After playing their first four games on the road, the Florida Tech women’s lacrosse team opened their home season on Tuesday and they did it in grand fashion, with a 14-13 upset victory over sixth-ranked Regis, 14-13.
The national polls came out Monday, and somehow even at 4-0, the Panthers were not in the top-25. They proved they belonged with this win on Tuesday, as Panthers coach McKenzie Rafferty watched her current team upset the Rangers, a team she was on staff with for two years prior to coming to Florida Tech in 2019.
The Rangers (2-1) were a final four team last season, and they played like it on Tuesday, scoring three of the final four goals of the game before Florida Tech ran out the clock.
Florida Tech (5-0) had 28 of their 32 shots on goal, but a tip of the cap goes to the Rangers All-American goalie Elle Crawford, who made 14 saves. She was under constant pressure and this game could have been a runaway in the Panthers favor.
Madison Fields deserves a lot of credit on the Panthers side. Even though she was credited with only five saves, they were big ones. She was helped immensely by a great defensive performance by her team in front of her.
Caroline Macleod led the Panthers with four goals and an assist. Alexis Townsend had all four of her goals in the first half. Kailee O’Brien had two goals and an assist, and Aleah Fjelstad had two goals. Mollie Kaplan and Madison Savje added single tallies.
The Rangers top scorer was Andrea Macalalad, who had five goals and an assist. Ali Vanek had two goals and two assists, as did Kyleigh Peoples.
It took 41 seconds for Macleod to get the Panthers on the board and it took Macalalad 1:02 to tie the game. The teams traded goals until Townsend put two consecutive goals on the board.
The first of those two tied the game 4-4. It was her 70th career goal and moved her into eighth place on the Panthers all-time list. Her next goal gave the Panthers a 5-4 lead with 11:18 to go in the first half.
After Regis tied it at five, Macleod and Savje gave the Panthers a 7-5 lead. Vanek closed the gap to one, only to see Fjelstad score with 53.7 seconds left, giving the Panthers an 8-6 lead at the half.
Fjelstad picked up right where she left off scoring 2:46 into the second half, giving the Panthers a three-goal lead. Jessica Berg answered quickly, but the Panthers were not fazed, as O’Brien scored twice in the span of a minute 30, and Kaplan made it 12-7 with 17:53 left.
The Rangers had plenty of time left and they never went into panic mode, scoring four of the next five goals, three of those coming from Macalalad. That closed the gap to 13-11 with 5:59 left. Macleod tallied 41 seconds later, giving the Panthers a 14-11 lead before Peoples and Macalalad closed the gap to one with 1:31 left.
Florida Tech gained possession late and was able to run out the clock, giving them their biggest win in the Rafferty era.
For more info: Regis @ Florida Tech Box Score
Florida Tech was helped immensely by its 17-12 advantage in draw controls. O’Brien won eight of those, while Kaplan had five. Macleod led the Panthers with eight ground balls, helping the Panthers to a 22-20 advantage in that category. The Panthers were 16-for-18 on clears, while Regis was 15-for-17.
The second game of a six-game homestand for the Panthers happens on Thursday when they welcome in Concordia-St. Paul at 7:00 p.m.