Six different Florida Tech players had a hat-trick on Saturday, as the Panthers rolled to a 21-12 victory over the eighth-ranked Rollins College Tars, who were coming off an upset of the number one team in the country, Florida Southern, on Wednesday.
“They’re a great team, we respect them like crazy and I knew it was gonna be a battle,” said Panthers coach Corinne Desrosiers. “They always give us a game.”
Before Saturday, the most goals Rollins (12-3, 2-2 SSC) had allowed in a game this year was 15, against defending national champion, Adelphi. On Saturday, they allowed 16 in the second half alone.
“This is probably our best win all year,” Desrosiers said. “Nobody runs the clock on Rollins and we got to do it today.”
Lauren Tybor finished the day with four goals to lead the Panthers, but this was a total team effort. Caroline Dunleavy, Sara Grenier, Alexis Townsend, Mollie Kaplan, and Sam Schiano had three goals each, while Mary Gormley chipped in with two.
Stephanie Stuart was amazing in goal for the Panthers, particularly in the second half when she came up with eight saves. Many of those were great scoring chances for the Tars that they are used to putting in the back if the net.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with thePanthers jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Schiano just 36 seconds into the game. Stuart made her first of five first-half saves 2:20 in, on a free-position shot by Hannah Ashton.
After Gormley’s free-position goal made it 2-0, 4:27 into the contest, Brittney Embree was called for a check to the head. Ashton cashed that in with 23:17 remaining, making it 2-1. It was the first of four goals on the day for Ashton, who now has 49 for the season.
The Panthers (12-1, 2-1 SSC) then ran off three straight goals, with Dunleavy, Grenier, and Tybor scoring to make it a 5-1 contest with 13:02 gone in the game.
Paige Brock got the Tars back into it with two goals, coming 42 seconds apart. Megan Cury and Kallie Germain would then score 41 seconds apart and just like that, it was 5-5, with 4:03 to go in the first half. The two teams would remain tied at the horn.
“We started getting a little slower with possession and we stopped moving our feet,” said Panthers coach Corinne Desrosiers of the late flurry by Rollins. “We started getting a little too conservative on defense.”
The second half started much like the first, as the Panthers got a goal from Kaplan 20 seconds in. Schiano would make it 7-5 with her second of the day and Stuart made it stand up with a great save at the other end.
Townsend found her way into the goal column with 26:04 left and it was 8-5. The four-goal run continued when Tybor scored 17 seconds later to make it 9-5.
As they had before, Rollins fought back with a three-goal spurt of their own. Bookend goals from Ashton with a tally from Hannah Coakley made it 9-8, with 6:17 having elapsed in the second half.
That was as close as the Tars would get, as the Panthers offense kicked it into high gear, scoring six of the next seven goals. Grenier got things going and Kaplan scored twice in 16 seconds, giving her the hat-trick 7:49 into the second half.
Gormley would get her second of the game, followed by Tybor’s hat-trick goal, which made it 14-9 with 15:47 left in the game and forced a change in goal for Rollins, as Sarah Neely took over for a reeling Malorie Olin. Olin, a senior was less than thrilled to be on the sideline, as she has consistently been a top goaltender in the Sunshine State Conference throughout her four-year career.
Dunleavy scored her second of the game to make it 15-9, before Brock scored her third of the day, to make it a five-goal game. Townsend answered that 22 seconds later, to give the Panthers a 16-10 lead and get Olin back into the game after a 2:48 sideline stint that saw Neely give up two goals.
After German scored to cut it back to five, Townsend completed her hat-trick. That jump-started another four-goal run by the Panthers, with Tybor getting her fourth and Schiano and Dunleavy each capping their hat-tricks on consecutive goals.
Grenier then got her hat-trick with 1:39 to go, giving her 48 goals for the season and giving the Panthers a 21-11 lead, which meant the clock kept running because of the 10-goal differential. Maggie Dougherty scored the final goal of the day, both for the Tars and for the game, with 14.4 seconds left, making it a 21-12 game.
While the Panthers scored 16 in the second half, the defense allowed only seven, helped of course by Stuart.
“In the second half I told the defenders to get out on their hands a little bit more if you can make the play, make the play, and they understood what I meant,” said Desrosiers. “So you saw us cause more turnovers and more chaos in the second half which gave our offense ultimately more looks.”
The Panthers topped Rollins in draw controls 20-15, but Desrosiers said that part was key because even on some of the draws the Tars won, the Panthers were able to take the ball away before they got settled. The Panthers took 36 shots (29 SOG) to the Tars 33 (25 SOG).
The Panthers were perfect on clears, going 19-for-19, while Rollins won the ground ball battle 33-32.
Desrosiers said the Panthers will likely see Rollins again in the playoffs and she knows that it will be another tough game, but her team learned something valuable coming out of this one.
“This was a good statement win for the girls,” she said. “I really think this team can beat anybody, we just have to believe it every time we step on the field.”
For more info: Rollins @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers hit the road Wednesday night for another Sunshine State Conference tilt against Palm Beach Atlantic. Opening draw is set for 7:00 p.m.