TAMPA, Fla – The No.9 Tampa Spartans took on the No. 13 Panthers of Florida Tech Sunday afternoon at the Naimoli Family Athletic Complex.The game was a hard fought battle by both sides, but when the dust settled the Spartans came out with the title winning 11-8.
Following the victory, Florida Tech will fall to 12-4 effectively ending their season. Tampa improves to 15-2 on the year and gears up for Postseason play. This victory marks the second consecutive Sunshine State Conference tournament championship, and sixth straight championship overall after winning two consecutive Deep South regular season Conference Championships.
UT’s offense was led by the usual suspects of Mike Morris, Matt Bilak, and Conor Whipple despite FIT’s best effort. Leading the way for Tampa’s offense was Morris and Bilak, who tallied five goals combined on the day. Also contributing to the offensive effort was Bobby Calhoun, Zak Goldbach, Chris Vetter, Whipple and Riley Piper. Whipple kick-started the offense dishing out four assists. The offense posted a clearance rate of .863 and fired off 41 shots on their way to posting a 609 shooting %.
The Spartans opened up the scoring with two goals from Zak Goldbach and Matt Bilak to take an early lead. The Panthers quickly answered back with a score of their own by Ben Abell minutes later. Both sides would continue to trade blows until the half where Tampa held an 11-5 lead.
The second half action started with a bang as Florida Tech put away three goals early in the third period. The teams would tighten down defensively, as neither side allowed a goal for the remainder of the contest proving worthy of their national rankings. The Panthers put up a hard fought battle, but eventually the deficit was too much for them to overcome.
Stepping up for the Spartans on the defensive end were Luke Posner and Jon McGowan. Posner gobbled up two groundballs, as well as causing two turnovers. McGowan also caused fits for the Panthers causing a turnover and scooping up three groundballs of his own. Also playing great tenacious defense was Nick Balzano, Charlie Cummins and Nick Ferreiro. As a unit, the defense caused five turnovers and collected 29 groundballs.
During the championship trophy ceremony, the All-SSC Tournament Team selections were announced. Five Spartans were selected to be members of this illustrious group the players selected were: Jake Schmidt, A.J. Arnold, Mike Morris, Luke Posner and Conor Whipple. Whipple, who posted seven assists along with tallying a goal also received Outstanding Player of the Tournament.
When asked about his team’s performance coach Rory Whipple said he was ” very proud the way his team played and have played all year”. Whipple later went on to credit their success to Arnold’s phenomenal play between the pipes posting 14 saves and .636 save %. He also expressed how excited the program was about winning consecutive conference tournaments.
The Spartans return to action May 1 at home against Colorado Mesa for senior night. The game is slated for an 8p.m. start live stats, and broadcast will be available for fans to follow the action from home.
Fans may follow University of Tampa athletics on Twitter (www.twitter.com/utspartans), Facebook (www.facebook.com/tampaspartans), YouTube (youtube.com/utathletics) andInstragram (tampaspartans). UT also offers blast, a free text messaging service that sends text alerts following all Spartan events. To sign up, please register at www.tampaspartans.com