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Tars Topple Panthers in SSC Clash

Josh ThomasPhoto credit: James Ragan Photography
The Florida Tech Panthers led twice on Tuesday night only to drop a 4-2 decision to the Rollins College Tars in a late-season Sunshine State Conference match. This was the second consecutive loss for the Panthers, who fell to 9-4 overall and 6-3 in the conference. For the Tars, who were celebrating senior night, they got a much-needed victory, improving to 9-4-1, including 6-4 in the conference. 
The night got off to a great start for the Panthers, who caught Rollins back on the heels early and took advantage of a couple Tars turnovers. The last of those turned into a Josh Thomas steal and he found Jan Hlavaca, on a cross, who tapped it past Tars’ goalie Drew Trautmann, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead 2:03 into the contest. 
The Florida Tech defense held up well for much of the first half, but with about 10 minutes left, the home team was awarded a free-kick and although Luuk Teurlinx made the initial chest save, Ben Grant was there to knock home the rebound and tie the match, 1-1. 
That’s how the first half ended. The Tars had the better of the shots after the first 45 minutes 6-5, with three shots on goal for Rollins and one for the Panthers. Teurlinx made two saves, while Trautmann did not record a save. The Panthers also led in corners, 2-0. 
The second half got off to a pretty good start for the Panthers as they found the back of the net 9:42 in. Solomon Wheatley found Brandon Smalley on a great cross into the box. Smalley hit it well and despite Trautmann getting his fingers on it, he could not corral it and just like that, the Panthers were up 2-1. 
The lead didn’t last long, as the Tars pushed right back. James Winchester was positioned perfectly after a corner kick by Tristin Johnson, Winchester headed it past Teurlinx, tying the game at 2-2. 
Just over seven minutes later, the Tars struck again. James Crowley took the initial shot and Teurlinx again made the save, but the rebound fell at the feet of Stefan Avram, who knocked it in and gave the Tars their first lead of the night, 3-2. 
Avram was not done, as he got away from his defender with 21:12 left and drew Teurlinx far out of his net. The risk almost paid off, as Teurlinx got his hands on the ball, but couldn’t grab it, leaving a wide-open net for Avram to kick into, giving Rollins the two-goal lead. 
The Panthers pressed for a goal in the final 20 minutes, but they were turned away by the Rollins defenders. With that, the Tars finished senior night on a high note, taking the Panthers down 4-2. 
Rollins outshot the Panthers 12-10, including 7-3 in shots on goal. Teurlinx made three saves, while Trautmann was credited with one. The Panthers took three corners to the Tars two and both teams committed 10 fouls. 
Florida Tech will close out their regular season on Friday, playing host to the top team in the Sunshine State Conference, Palm Beach Atlantic. The Sailfish play Embry-Riddle on Wednesday, but as of Tuesday, they were 12-0-2 overall and 7-0-1 in the SSC. 
Friday’s game will get underway at 7:00 p.m. at Rick Stottler Field. 

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