Tampa Falls to No. 1 Limestone in NCAA Semifinal

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via press release


(Author’s Note:  Was watching this online yesterday while watching the D1 game on TV.  With three minutes left and Tampa trailing by one TU was able to gain possession and their offensive play led to a wide open player five yards out but the pass was dropped when the tying goal was there for the taking.  Tampa had lost the regular season matchup 25-7 so this near turnaround was an incredible achievement.  Another marvelous season for TU and the Sunshine State Conference ended up being rated the strongest conference in D2 in the country!  Coupled with the Florida Southern Women’s National Championship we are looking at a lengthy run of great lacrosse all around the state.  Fans really need to start to fill the SSC’s stadiums next season!)


Box Score


GAFFNEY, S.C. – After a back-and-forth 60-minute NCAA Division II Semifinal battle between two powerhouse programs, the No. 6 University of Tampa men’s lacrosse team fell to No. 1 Limestone College by a 13-10 final score at Saints Field on Sunday.

The Spartans conclude their season as NCAA semifinalists with a 15-3 record while the hosting Saints advance to the championship match against Le Moyne with a pristine 21-0 tally.

Freshman Andrew Kew blasted five goals in his semifinal debut, finishing the year with 62 goals in his first collegiate campaign.  The 62 goals ties the single-season record set by Jake Rooney in 2014.

Junior Conor Whipple finished the contest with two assists and a goal to set the new single-season mark for both points and assists with 96 and 50, respectively.

Freshman Kew began the scoring for both teams, driving an unassisted goal into the net to take a 1-0 lead.  Saints midfielder Mike Messenger delivered the equalizer at the 11:07 mark of the opening quarter.  Limestone would take a 2-1 lead but senior Mike Morris would match with a goal thanks to an assist from attacker Whipple, ending the first period knotted at 2-2.

Messenger began the scoring in the second frame to regain the lead for Limestone.  Attacker Kew would tie the score for Tampa, powering in an unassisted goal as the game sat 3-3.  Senior Matt Bilak gave UT its second lead of the contest as Sam Murphyassisted the score.   The Saints would capitalize on a costly Tampa penalty to cause another tie at 4-4.  The premier half of the NCAA Division II semifinal would end in a 4-4 tie between No. 6 Tampa and No. 1 Limestone.

UT limited its turnovers to a mere five in the beginning periods while LC posted double-digit turnovers with 10.  The Spartan defense led with five caused turnovers and 12 ground balls.  Midfielder Riley Piper posted a pair of caused turnovers while scooping up two ground balls.  Long-stick midfielder A.J. Ferraro led the team in ground balls with three, adding a caused turnover to his credit.

Goalkeeper A.J. Arnold led in between the pipes, stopping six shots while allowing four goals for an even .600 save percentage across the first 30 minutes of play.

The Saints were first to strike in the third period, as Charlie Sheehan notched an unassisted goal at the 13:40 minute mark.  Whipple returned fire with a game-tying goal before assisting Matt Vetter netted the 6-5 UT advantage just moments after.

Limestone responded with a goal from Colton Watkinson at the 9:49 minute mark in the third period.  Senior Jake Schmidt scored to give Tampa a 7-6 lead.  Watkinson scored again to tie the contest before Jordan Saunderson pushed the score to an 8-7 lead in favor of the hosting Saints.  As the minutes waned in the third quarter, Limestone held the lead 8-7 in the semifinal.

Watkinson picked up the hat-trick for Limestone as the Saints earned their largest lead of the contest with a 9-7 advantage in the first few minutes of the fourth period.  Kew would pull the game within one with his third goal of the game at the 11:42 minute mark.  Midfielder Watkinson would score yet again to give the home team a 10-8 lead.

Not to be outdone, Kew scored a breakaway goal, his fourth of the contest on an assist from Morris to shrink the Saints lead at 10-9 with 7:25 minutes left in regulation.  LC midfielder Chris Clancy padded the lead at 11-9 with his first goal of the contest.

Attacker Kew tied the single-season goals record of 62 with his fifth score of the contest, matching the 2014 season of Tampa All-American Jake Rooney.  The goal pulled UT within a goal of Limestone at 11-10 before Watkinson scored his fifth goal of the contest to return the game to a two-goal advantage for the Saints.

Junior Arnold (10-2) was tabbed with the loss despite a strong 60 minutes in goal.  The netminder finished with a .435 save percentage with 10 saves.  Freshman goalkeeper Danny Forren (1-0) earned his first collegiate win in dramatic fashion, stopping eight total shots while allowing 10 goals.

Tampa concludes its season in postseason play for the third consecutive year, advancing to the semifinals for just the second time in the program’s short history.  Limestone continues its defense of its 2014 and 2015 National Championships in Philadelphia, Pa.

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