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Panthers Pummel Flagler in MacArthur’s Debut

Header pic: Justin Williams – Credit: Lou Marinacci – Pictures of Motion

The 19th-ranked Florida Tech Panthers (2-2) got their second win of the young season on Saturday, beating the new kid on the block, the Flagler Saints (0-3) 17-6 in a Division II regional matchup at the Olin Complex. It is the first year of the Flagler lacrosse program.

It was the first win for new head coach Brad MacArthur who took the reins as the Panthers’ full-time coach on Tuesday.

“The debut itself was minimal for me,” said MacArthur by phone after the game. “I just wanted to see the team go out and execute the game plan. They did that, and I think the sky’s the limit for this team.”

MacArthur credited interim head coach Zach Wynne and his staff for the job they did in the first three games of the season. “Zach did an admirable job keeping these guys focused,” he said. “I was there for the games in North Carolina and they did a great job, but I was glad to see this offense explode today.”

It was a big day for a lot of Panthers led by Bennett Duffy, who had four goals and two assists. He scored a hat trick in the second quarter. Justin Williams completed his hat trick when he scored the opening goal of the second quarter. Griffin Bowie had three assists to lead the Panthers in that category.

Drew Flagg had a hat trick to lead Flagler and Thomas Pritchard came through with two goals for the visitors who gave Florida Tech a good run in the first quarter, with the score tied 2-2 after 15 minutes. Williams scored Florida Tech’s first two goals, including the lid lifter 1:06 in.

The second quarter was the turning point, as the Panthers struck for nine goals including the Williams hat trick goal getting them started 20 seconds into the quarter and giving the Panthers a 3-2 lead. Duffy then scored two goals, with a goal from Collin Stewart sandwiched in between. It was a four-goal spurt for the Panthers in 2:30 and gave them a 6-2 lead.

Pritchard broke up the run but less than a minute later, a tally from Bowie made it 7-3. Bowie would then assist on a goal from Ben Claffee, making it 8-3. Claffee’s goal was a jump shot tally from a tough angle that somehow squeaked through.

Aran Heath would get his first of the season 2:08 later, making it 9-3. Nate Deplancke and Duffy would end the quarter with goals for the Panthers, who scored five consecutive times to close the half and led 11-3.

Duffy’s fourth goal of the contest came 1:14 into the third quarter making it a nine-goal lead. Flagg would score less than two minutes later, to make it 12-4.

Florida Tech goalie John Hulsman played the first half plus 6:30 of the third quarter, making six saves and allowing four goals. Connor Davis took over in the net.
Part of the reason the first three games were close was because of the effort Hulsman was making,” MacArthur said. “He wants to make an effort to be one of the best.”

Jakob Terpak scored with 9:39 left in the third with the third helper of the day for Bowie. Deplancke and Matt Gutmann closed out the third quarter with goals for the Panthers and it was 15-4.

Flagg would get his hat trick with 7:50 left in the game. That was followed by a goal from Florida Tech freshman Gavin Stecher, with an assist by fellow freshman Cole Bonnell, expanding the Panthers lead to 16-5. After Geraint Shaw scored with 24.6 left to close the gap to 16-6, Patrick Stewart beat the buzzer to put the exclamation point on a big win for the Panthers.

For more info: Flagler @ Florida Tech Box Score

This is certainly a win to build on as MacArthur settles here in Brevard. He is familiar with both the Panthers and the Sunshine State Conference.

“I saw some Florida Tech games because they were usually an early morning game so it was easy to catch them, ” he said. “I had some SSC players in my program in Canada so I had seen some of the talent.”

When asked what drew him to Florida Tech, it was a combination of things for MacArthur.

“The institution itself and the academic opportunity for athletes is tremendous. My path was similar being an NCAA athlete,” he said. “I looked at this program and liked what I saw. I credit the people before me for building the program.”

The Panthers don’t play again until March 5 against Seton Hill. MacArthur will make good use of that time.

“The coaching staff has already sat together and talked. We are gonna refine and reset,” he said. We want to understand where our strengths and weaknesses are moving forward.”