TAMPA, Fla. – In a rematch of last year’s NCAA quarterfinal, the University of Tampa Spartans defeated the Mercyhurst University Lakers by a final score of 11-7, Saturday night at the Naimoli Family Athletic and Intramural Complex.
The victory improved Tampa to 7-1, while Mercyhurst falls to 2-3.
When asked about his teams performance against the Lakers, coach Rory Whipple said, “With the one loss, we cannot afford to lose any more games if we want to make the playoffs. Hopefully we build on this win and come together as a team and work hard to make a run.”
UT jumped on the board first, as Matt Bilak put a shot past the goalie at the 11:51 mark. MU quickly responded with a goal to even the game up. The Spartans then went on a streak, as they scored three unanswered goals to go into the second period with a 4-1 lead.
The Lakers would dominate the second quarter of play, as they held the Spartans scoreless in the quarter, while scoring three goals themselves. James Crowe was big for the visitors, as he netted two of the three goals in the quarter, as the two teams went into the half tied at 4.
After a Mercyhurst goal two minutes into the half, Conor Whipple scored the equalizer with 8:58 left to play in the third period. Bilak would score the next two goals to give Tampa the lead for good. Mike Morris added an insurance goal with 2:19 left to play.
“At halftime, with the game tied, we felt like it was a new game and we just had to beat them for 30 minutes.” said head coach Rory Whipple. ” Matt Bilak scored two straight goals, which is really impressive as they had a long stick on him, and he really shut them down.”
The fourth quarter went back and forth as each UT outscored MU 3-2. Bobby Calhoun put the nail in the coffin, as he scored an empty net goal with 1:43 left to play in the contest.
Bilak led the day for Tampa, as he totaled five points with his four goals, along with an assists. Calhoun added four points, as he scored two goals and two assists. Attackers Whipple and Morris each contributed with two goals on the night.
In net, A.J. Arnold recorded eight saves, as he improves his record to 4-0 on the season.
Tampa will hit the road, as they take on Mars Hills on March 22, in a neutral site matchup in Marietta, Ga. The game is set to begin at 1:00 p.m.
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