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Panthers Pass Tough Test Against Pace

Alexis Townsend scored four goals on Saturday.

The sixth-ranked Florida Tech women’s lacrosse team improved to 7-0 Saturday with a big 15-10 win against No. 19 Pace University at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.

Sara Grenier finished the game with four goals and two assists and Alexis Townsend tallied four goals, to lead the Panthers offense. Stephanie Chadnick led the Setters with four goals and Courtney Pabst had a hat-trick.

The first half was a bit sloppy to start for both teams. Casey Gelderman got the scoring started for Pace, beating Panthers goalie Stephanie Stuart 1:32 into the game. Mary Gormley tied things up, shooting one past Jillian Oross and tying things up at one.

Pabst and Townsend traded goals before Aleah Fjelstad found the back of the net with 13:20 to go, giving the Panthers their first lead of the day, 3-2. Lauren Tybor scored a free-position goal 1:30 later, to make it 4-2.

A timeout by Pace was not enough to stem the tide as Grenier scored again on a nice feed from Caroline Dunleavy, who joined the 200-career point club, earlier this week. She ended that night with 202 career points and had two goals and two assists on Saturday.

The lead the Panthers built was quickly washed away, as Chadnick went on a personal four-goal run. She scored the first two goals 1:56 apart and scored the last two 3:10 apart. Her final goal came with 50 seconds left in the half, giving Pace a 6-5 lead at the break.

Florida Tech (7-0) turned the ball over much more in the first half than they normally do but Pace matched them, as each team had 17. FIT ended the half with a 14-12 advantage in shots and a 16-12 edge in ground balls. Each team had six draw controls.

“We had to re-focus at halftime, said Panthers head coach Corinne Desrosiers. “We wanted to be efficient against a dangerous Pace team when we had offensive possessions, we just weren’t sticking to those pieces in the first half like we wanted to. We weren’t playing poorly, but we weren’t hammering down the points that we wanted.”

The Panthers definitely had chances to at least come away tied at the half, or have the lead, but a 1-for-7 showing on free-position shots hurt them.

Gormley would score a man-up goal to start the second half and Pabst would answer, making it 7-6 Setters with 20:51 to go. Grenier would score 34 seconds later and it took 12 seconds for Sam Schiano to get in on the fun and Dunleavy capped a three-goal run, giving the Panthers a 9-7 lead with 18:54 to go.

Pabst broke up the FIT run and closed the gap to one, only to see Dunleavy score again, two minutes after her last goal. It was her 20th of the season and made it 10-8. Townsend and Grenier scored 16 seconds apart to widen the gap to 12-8.

“We told them at half to stick to the plan and you should have wide-open looks if you do it right,” Desrosiers said. “All they had to do was stick to the plan and stay patient with possession, once they did that, we started to pull away.”

Emily Ankabrandt scored for the Setters over five minutes later, but Grenier answered on the man-up with 7:29 left and Townsend scored twice in 30 seconds to give the Panthers a 15-9 lead. Grenier assisted on both goals.

“She did great,” Desrosiers said of Townsend. “We’ve been rotating that forth attacker spot because we just have a lot of really good shooters and we are trying to give them all opportunities, but she played the entire game for us and she really stuck to her offensive concepts. When she had the shot she took it and when she didn’t, she kept possession. I think she only had one turnover and that’s amazing for an attacker to do that, so we’re really proud of her.”

Gelderman bookended her day with the last Pace goal, coming with 3:15 to go. It was the last of four goals the Setters scored in the second half. Stuart made nine saves for Florida Tech, with six coming in the second half.

“She played her butt off for us, they all did,” Desrosiers said. “Once they made those corrections and stuck to the gameplan and we really showed that we’re one of the top teams in the country right now.”

For more info: Pace @ Florida Tech Box Score

Next up for the Panthers is a visit from McKendree University. That game will be played Tuesday at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.

“McKendree, the first time we ever played them a couple years ago they beat us when we were out there in Illinois,” said Desrosiers. “So we obviously want a revenge win there.”

McKendree was ranked #21 in the last poll, but they lost 18-9 to Indianapolis on Saturday and are now 1-1 on the season. Opening draw on Tuesday is set for 7:00 p.m.