Reid Chaconas had a five-point day in Saturday’s loss to Saint Leo. Lou Marinacci - Pictures of Motion

A faceoff violation to start overtime doomed the Florida Tech Panthers on Saturday, as they fell to Saint Leo 16-15 in overtime, in a crucial Sunshine State Conference men’s lacrosse game played at University Turf Stadium.

“That was a great lacrosse game today and you have to give credit to Saint Leo’s players and coaches for a hard-fought, well-deserved win,” said Panthers coach Mark Penn in an email to Sports Lowdown. “It was anyone’s game and they made one more play than us.”

Daniel Flock allowed 18 goals and made 16 saves for the Panthers, while his counterpart Thomas Tatarian allowed 15 goals and made nine saves.

The Panthers (7-4, 3-3 SSC) were outshot 54-36, with Saint Leo taking 34 shots on goal, compared to the Panthers 24.

“We took less shots than normal but we took better shots then we typically take,” Penn said. Our offense was much more patient and controlled today. We have things to build on, but obviously, time is running out on the season.”

Reid Chaconas led the Panthers scoring attack, netting four goals to go along with one assist. Logan Sweeney had two goals and an assist, as did Justin Williams. Freshmen Braden Dunn had two goals, and Luke Palmisano had a goal and two assists.

Saint Leo was led by Philip Buque’s seven points on five goals and two assists. Tyler Eames matched that point total with three goals and four assists.

The Lions 9-5, 4-2 SSC) held a 47-33 advantage in ground balls, including doubling up the Panthers 16-8 in the second quarter and winning the fourth quarter 13-6 in that category.

“I think ground balls were the biggest difference in this game,” said Penn. In the first half they were outhustling us to ground balls and capitalized on that momentum to build a lead, but we scrapped harder in the second half and got back in it.”

This was a back-and-forth affair with each team trading the first six goals. Chaconas scored on a feed from Williams, tying the game at three with 49 seconds to go in the first quarter. Brad Schillinger scored 22 seconds later and the Panthers held a 4-3 advantage after one quarter.

Williams got a goal of his own 1:02 into the second quarter, giving the Panthers a 5-3 lead. It took nine seconds for Chaconas to score his second of the day, doubling the Panthers lead to 6-3.

The Lions went on a five-goal run, capped by a Buque man-up goal with 1:55 to go in the second quarter, giving the home team an 8-6 lead. Dunn would answer as he put one home with 20 seconds left, pulling the Panthers to within one, 8-7.

Eames scored the first goal of the third quarter and then assisted on a man-up goal off the stick of CJ Stowell, giving the Lions a 10-7 lead. Peyton Tyson and Devin Sparks would score less than a minute apart, and make it a five-goal spread.

The Panthers answered with a four-goal run of their own, as Sweeney, Chaconas, and Jake Pierson scored to make it 12-10 with 19 seconds left in the third quarter. Williams tally started the fourth quarter and made it a one-goal game.

The teams traded the next four goals, making it 14-13 Lions, with 7:27 left in the contest. Chaconas and Matt Guttmann would score consecutive goals for the Panthers, giving them a 15-14 lead with 2:03 left in regulation.

Eames would score a beauty of a goal 34 seconds later, with a diving shot that eluded Flock with 1:29 left, tying the game at 15, and sending this one into overtime.

Buque would take advantage of the Panthers faceoff violation, scoring his 45th goal of the season and giving the Lions a 16-15 victory.

For more info: Florida Tech @ Saint Leo Box Score

“I’m really proud of the team for how they played today, we grew as a family,” said Penn. We played much more disciplined and executed our game plan better then we have in recent games.

With so many guys out with injuries, a lot of freshmen and inexperienced players were forced into action and they responded, Penn continued. Even the mistakes were made with purpose and effort and that’s what we were looking for.”

Florida Tech wraps up the regular season on Saturday, against Florida Southern. Any chance at the postseason rests on this game.

“We need to win next week to get into the postseason, so we have no time to lament this loss,” said Penn. Back to work Monday and we don’t want our season to end there.”

Saturday’s opening faceoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the Olin Complex.

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