Caroline Macleod scored the game-winner with 4:17 left in regulation Sunday, as the Panthers beat Palm Beach Atlantic 8-7 in a non-conference tilt, and completed a weekend sweep at the US Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, MD.
Kailee O’Brien and Aleah Fjelstad led the Panthers as both finished with two goals and one assist. Madison Savje added two assists. For PBA it was Anna Leskaris, Grace Bartlinski, and Kate Leblanc, who all had two goals. Kiki Cinotti had three assists.
Following Saturday’s 16-8 win over Post in their season opener, the Panthers had their hands full on Sunday with fellow Sunshine State Conference foe PBA. The Panthers were down 6-4 and 7-6, before coming back in the final five minutes to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Chloe Zador got the start in goal for the Panthers making two saves and allowing three goals. One of those saves came a minute and a half in, robbing Cinotti. Zador would get help from her offense when Mollie Kaplan scored 2:53 in on a free-position shot.
The Panthers (2-0) took a 2-0 lead less than a minute later, as O’Brien scored her first of the day. Just like the Kaplan goal, it was a free-position shot.
Palm Beach Atlantic got their first of the day from the stick of Leblanc, and two and a half minutes later PBA backstop Abigal Nehring got some help from the post on a shot by Morgan Leonard. That kept the score 2-1.
The Sailfish (1-2) would tie things up with 18:15 to go, getting a goal from Laskaris. Leonard, who hit the post earlier in the contest, would give the Panthers a 3-2 lead, beating Nehring with 11:58 left in the half. O’Brien got the assist.
A man-up goal from Alexis Townsend gave the Panthers a 4-2 lead with 9:34 left, but the Sailfish cut that by one with just over six minutes left, when Bartlinski got her first of the day, making it 4-3. The Panthers had a great chance just before the end of the half to get that goal back, but the free-position attempt by Savje went wide, and the teams went to the half with Florida Tech up 4-3.
Madison Fields who got the start on Saturday against Post, took over for Zador to start the second half. In the first five minutes, she saw Leblanc hit the crossbar and she made a save on Cinotti on a free-position shot.
After a yellow card put the Panthers a man down, Lindsey Heffler would score on a free-position shot, tying the game 4-4 with 23:37 to go. After Fjelstad was unable to get one by Nehring with 16:34 left, it took Laskaris 17 seconds to break the tie. The assist went to Cinotti, and it was 5-4 PBA.
PBA missed a chance to widen that lead when Fields robbed Bartlinski, but they got converted their next chance when Leblanc made it 6-4 with just over 13 minutes left.
Nehring kept Alexis Townsend off the board with a save, but 2:07 later O’Brien would not be denied as she scored with 8:52 to go, making it 6-5. Two minutes later, Fjelstad tied the game with her first of the night. After Bartlinski gave PBA a 7-6 lead with 5 ½ minutes left, it took Fjelstad 46 seconds to find the net again, tying things up at seven.
The decisive came 31 seconds after the tying goal. This time it was Macleod, who scored only once, but it was the one that mattered most, giving the Panthers an 8-7 lead. Palm Beach Atlantic would call a couple of late timeouts trying to get into position, but the Panthers defense was up to the task for the last four minutes plus.
For more info: Florida Tech Vs. Palm Beach Atlantic Box Score (Sparks, MD)
Statistically, this game was even in a lot of categories including shots (22) and saves (7). Florida Tech forced 18 turnovers, while they committed 15. The Panthers were an impressive 20-for-22 on clears. And held a 22-16 advantage in ground balls.
This is the first of two meetings between these teams this season. They will meet Saturday, April 4 in West Palm Beach.
As for the Panthers’ next matchup, that will be against Young Harris on Saturday, February 28 on the road in Georgia. The opening draw is set for 4:00 p.m.