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Panthers Get Home Win Over Kutztown

The Florida Tech women’s lacrosse team rebounded from Thursday’s loss to Concordia-St. Paul with a very gutsy 17-13 win over Kutztown University on Saturday at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.

Kailee O’Brien led the charge for the Panthers, scoring five goals and assisting on another. Alexis Townsend and Aleah Fjelstad each had four goals, while Mollie Kaplan added two goals and two helpers. Caroline Macleod was responsible for the Panthers’ other two goals.

This was a game of runs on both sides, thankfully for the Panthers, they got the benefit of the run that mattered most late in the game, as they scored four of the final six goals.

Madison Fields got the start for Florida Tech in goal, against Jenna Blesson for the Golden Bears. She got some early help from her offense, as Allie McCormick and Destanee Watkins scored in the first 2:46 of the game.

Kaplan then took matters into her own hands scoring goals 1:12 apart, tying the game 2-2. That jumpstarted the Panthers in a big way, as Townsend would score to give the Panthers their first lead of the day. Fjelstad would follow that with two of her own, coming 27 seconds apart, and just like that, the Panthers were up 5-2.

Kutztown (2-2) answered with three straight including the second of the day, tying the game at five with 19:16 to go in the first half.

Macleod got the Panthers back on track with 15:32 left and she sparked a four-goal run for Tech, as Townsend got her second of the day, making it 7-5. O’Brien would score back-to-back goals in the span of 39 seconds, making it a 9-5 game.

After Kutztown cut the lead to 9-6, O’Brien scored two consecutive goals in just 1:59, giving her four of the last five goals and giving the Panthers an 11-6 lead. The Golden Bears closed the gap to 11-8, scoring twice with Lesley Lane’s goal coming with 15.2 seconds left in the first half.

Fields made four saves and gave up eight goals in the first half. As she did in the Panthers’ first few games this season, coach McKenzie Rafferty decided to make a change in goal, handing the reigns to Chloe Zador for the second half.

The Golden Bears got a quick free-position chance in the second half and took advantage, as Cyrose  Conteh, Cyla Cafferata, and Erin Vaughan Ware each scored their second goals of the day, tying the game at 11.

With another Kutztown run behind them, it was time for the Panthers offense to go on the attack, and they did just that with O’Brien breaking the tie with her fifth goal of the day, making it 12-11. That goal was followed by Fjelstad’s hat trick goal and Townsend’s hat trick came on the man-up 56 seconds later, giving the Panthers a 14-11 lead. They weren’t done, as Mcleod added her second of the day, boosting the Panthers lead to four.

After Allie McCormick scored her second of the day to close the gap to 15-12, Townsend struck for her fourth of the day, making it 16-12. Devon Fitzpatrick scored the last Kutztown goal of the day, and that was answered by Fjelstad’s fourth of the day with 2:02 to go, giving the Panthers the winning differential

Zador shook off the early struggles, making six saves and allowing the Panthers to widen their lead late in the game.

Florida Tech had 31 shots (26 SOG), while the Golden Bears had 26 shots, 23 on goal. The Panthers, who were 2-for-9 on free-position shots against Concordia-St. Paul was good on five of their six attempts on Saturday.

The Panthers were 21-for-22 on clears, while Kutztown was 18 of 21. Florida Tech caused 17 of the 25 Golden Bears turnovers, while the Panthers had 17 as a team.

For more info: Kutztown @ Florida Tech Box Score

The Panthers will host No. 11 Mercy College on Wednesday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m.