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Florida Tech Hangs On Against Davenport

Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

The 15th-ranked Florida Tech Panthers got key goals from their most experienced goal scorers on Monday, en route to a 17-13 win over the Davenport Panthers at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.

Mollie Kaplan scored her fifth goal of the night with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, capping the Panthers second victory of the season. She also had an assist, giving her a seven-point night. Sam Schiano and Leah Dunn scored four goals each and Alexis Townsend had two. Florida Tech got single tallies from Aleah Fjelstad and Lexi Sheely. Kailee O’Brien led FIT in assists with two, while Fjelstad, Kaplan, and Schiano added one apiece.

Panthers head coach McKenzie Rafferty will obviously take the win, but she left no doubt that this was not a win she was particularly happy with.

“We underestimated them,” she said, in reference to Davenport. “I don’t think they came to play at all and I’m disappointed in this. Yeah, it’s a win but it doesn’t feel like it.”

“I’m surprised that we held the number two team to a 15-9 loss and then came back and played an unranked team and beat them by four goals,” she continued. “They admitted in the locker room that they didn’t come out ready, they weren’t ready at all.”

That was evident early, Davenport went up 2-0 on goals from Taylor Ries and Brenna Knoll in the first 3:57 of the game, against Panthers starting goaltender Chloe Zador. Her team would erase that deficit in a hurry as the home Panthers reeled off six straight goals, including a hat-trick for Dunn with 9:50 showing on the first half clock, and two goals from Kaplan. Schiano had the other goal and just like that, FIT was up 6-2.

Aaliyah Miller and Ryann Deuel would get the visitors within two, but Florida Tech bounced back, scoring the last three goals of the first half, including two in a row from Kaplan. Townsend’s goal with 2:12 remaining, allowed Florida Tech to carry a 9-4 lead into the half.

Ries started the second half with a goal, but Dunn, Fjelstad, and Schiano answered for FIT and it was a 12-5 game. After Davenport’s Kenzie Warren cut the Panthers lead in half, Rafferty took Zador out and handed the goaltending duties to freshman Hannah Murray with 15:43 left in the contest.

Zador finished with just four saves, allowing six goals. Davenport went right after Murray, getting goals 40 seconds apart and cutting the deficit to 12-8. Schiano answered with her hat-trick goal, followed by the second goal of the night from Townsend, giving the home team a 14-8 advantage.

Knoll answered with her third and fourth of the night, coming 1:19 apart, and cutting the FIT lead to 14-10. Murray would notch her first collegiate save on a shot by Knoll with 9:04 left in the game.

Reiss would register the hat-trick with 7:44 to go, making it a three-goal game. Sheely, a freshman, answered with her first career goal before Warren would tally again, making it 15-12 with 5:19 left. That would be backed up by another goal for Deuel, shrinking Florida Tech’s advantage to two.

That would be as close as they would get, as Schiano scored with 26 seconds left and Kaplan would shoot into a wide open net, with a single tick of the clock left.

It was a rough debut for Murray, who allowed seven goals while registering just the one save. Couple that with the night Zador had, and you understand Rafferty’s frustration.

”Im not happy with either goalie’s performance, to be honest,” she said. “I don’t think they saw shots, they didn’t track the ball well at all tonight.”

For more info: Davenport @ Florida Tech Box Score

Next up for the Panthers is a regional game against Queens at home. The opening draw is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.