The 16th-ranked Florida Tech Panthers got off to a dangerously slow start this season, losing four of their first five games. Saturday night the turnaround continued as the Panthers beat Palm Beach Atlantic 12-8, in a Sunshine State Conference game.
FIT has now won four straight conference games, beating Tampa, Rollins, and Lynn prior to Saturday’s victory. Freshman Brandon Harry was a pleasant surprise, earning his first career hat-trick against PBA. Justin Williams and Carson Clough collected two goals each, while Ryan Land, Logan Sweeney, Mason Ostrowski, Lance Pavlina, and Tyler Covey had single tallies.
Florida Tech ripped off 53 shots in this contest, 29 of those were on goal. This game was close for the first three quarters, thanks in large part to the play of PBA goalie Ben Slavick made 17 saves and kept his team in this game throughout.
Panthers netminder Daniel Flock saw 34 shots, with half of them on goal. He made nine saves of his own and is a huge reason for the Panthers success… not just in this game, but all season.
The game got off to a slow start offensively, as the Sailfish struck first with a goal from Zach Figura with 5:15 to go in the quarter. It looked like that might stand up, as Slavick was stopping everything the Panthers threw at him. He had five saves in the opening 15 minutes, but Sweeney finally solved him with 18 seconds to go, tying things up 1-1, after one.
The Panthers (7-4, 4-0 SSC) again had trouble with Slavick in the early portion of the second, but Clough and Land scored 12 seconds apart and 36 seconds after that, a goal by Ostrowski made it 4-1.
Jackson Miller, who assisted on the first goal of the night got one of his own with 3:16 left in the half, cutting the Panthers lead in half but Harry answered that with the first goal of his career, pushing the Panthers lead to 5-2
With 2:20 left before the break. As Florida Tech did in the first quarter, the Sailfish got a late goal, with 19 seconds left out of the stick of Brendan Fischer, scoring on the man-up and making it a 5-3 game at the half.
Williams got the Panthers off on the right foot with his goal 1:03 into the third, doubling the Panthers lead at 6-3. Trevor Keena scored 21 seconds later to get it to 6-4, but it took just 36 seconds for Clough to beat Slavick for the second time and it was a three-goal game again, at 7-4.
Harry got his second of the night 55 seconds after Clough and it was an 8-4 lead for the visitors. Keena and Williams would trade goals and the Panthers would take a 9-5 lead into the fourth quarter.
The fourth went almost 10 minutes without a goal, but Anthony Cresto found the back of the net with 5:27 to go, making it 9-6.
That goal kicked the Panthers offense into hyper-drive, as Covey, Harry and faceoff specialist Pavlina scored in a 31-second span, giving the Panthers a 12-6 lead. The goals from Harry and Pavlina had just five seconds between them.
Trent Parker and Miller scored the final two goals of the game for PBA.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Palm Beach Atlantic Box Score
The Sailfish deserve a lot of credit, they are a first-year program that played much better than their 4-9 record would indicate. This was a chippy, somewhat emotional game that saw a lot of jawing on both sides. It will be interesting to see what future games have in store in this series.
Florida Tech will return home Wednesday, to meet Embry-Riddle, who lost Saturday and fell to 1-9 overall and 0-4 in the conference. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.