ERIE, Pa. – Behind one of the most epic come-from-behind victories in program history, the No. 6 University of Tampa men’s lacrosse team used a five-goal onslaught from senior Jake Schmidt to deal No. 4 Mercyhurst a 10-9 overtime defeat on Saturday at Tullio Field, as UT advances to the NCAA Division II Semifinal.
Facing an 8-1 deficit entering halftime, Schmidt sparked an 8-1 run in the second half to end regulation knotted at 9-9 with the Lakers. The midfielder needed just one minute of overtime to end Mercyhurst’s season with a deafening unassisted goal after a costly turnover from MU. The Rochester, N.Y. native finished the contest with five goals and an assist.
UT continues to the semifinal match with a 15-2 overall record while the Lakers conclude their season with a 15-3 tally.
The postseason win marks the second time that Tampa has defeated Mercyhurst in postseason play after dropping its regular-season matchup. The Spartans will compete in the NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Semifinal for the second time in program history, meeting familiar foe Limestone College.
The opening half of play was heavily dominated by the hosting Lakers, as Mercyhurst scored the opening five goals of the contest, unanswered. Tampa was able to score in the second period off the stick of Matt Vetter, but the Lakers responded with a trio of goals to end the first half with an 8-1 advantage.
Despite the lopsided first-half score, face-off specialist Alex Patton dominated the opening quarters with 9-for-10 face-offs won, scooping up four ground balls. Freshman long-stick midfielder A.J. Ferraro followed with three ground balls in the first 30 minutes of play.
Mercyhurst held the offensive tempo, capitalizing on 18 shots compared to the seven from UT.
Tampa matched the first-half efforts of Mercyhurst, shutting down the Laker’s offense while forcing an overtime period behind an astonishing 8-1 run led by Schmidt and fellow senior Mike Morris. Schmidt scored four goals in the second half in addition to the game-winner in overtime while Morris notched a pair of goals for UT.
Senior Matt Bilak and freshman Andrew Kew accounted for the remaining two goals as Bilak, Jordan LeFranc and Conor Whipple each added an assist.
Sophomore Patton finished with a 73.9 face-off percentage, winning 17-of-23 and concluding the contest with a game-high seven ground balls. Kew and Riley Piper added three ground balls for the Spartans.
Defensively, junior Charlie Cummins caused three Laker turnovers to lead Tampa’s back line. Freshman netminder Bryan Karn earned the win, picking up six saves while surrendering just four goals coming off the bench for a .600 save-percentage.
Tampa will continue on to the national semifinal to face No. 1 Limestone on Sunday, May 22nd in Gaffney, S.C. at a to be determined time. Live stats will be available for the contest via www.tampaspartans.com.