TAMPA, FLA – The No. 9 University of Tampa Spartans defeated the No.14 Florida Tech Panthers Friday night at a crowded Naimoli Family Athletic Complex by a final score of 10-8. The game was a back, and forth affair with the Spartans outlasting the Panthers after a late goal by Tampa’s Sean Giampietro sealed the game with just 2:27 left in play.
Florida Tech will fall to 11-3, 3-2 to close out regular season play. Tampa improves to 13-2, 5-0 on the season the victory marks the second consecutive Sunshine State Conference regular season championship, and fourth straight after winning two consecutive Deep South Conference Championships.
UT’s offense was led by a group of unsung heroes as the FIT defense neutralized the offense’s usual contributors. Leading the way for Tampa’s offense was Sean Giampietro and Zak Goldbach, who tallied five goals combined on the night. Also contributing to the offensive effort was Daniel Soviero, Chris Vetter, Mat Bilak and Mike Morris. The offense posted a clearance rate of .923 and fired off 39 shots on the night for a 462 shooting %.
The Panthers opened up the scoring with two goals by Brian Bacarella to take an early lead. The Spartans quickly answered back with two goals of their own by Goldbach and Giampietro minutes later. Both sides would trade scores until the half where Tampa held a 5-4 lead.
Second half action started with a bang as Tampa put away two goals early in the third period. The teams would trade scores proving they’re worthy of their national rankings. FIT would score two consecutive goals before UT answered with their own goal. The entire match was a hard fought battle with neither side conceding each score more meaningful than the last. 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 Charlie Cummins and Jon McGowan. Cummins gobbled up five groundballs on his way to causing four turnovers. McGowan also caused fits for the Panthers causing two turnovers and scooping up five groundballs of his own. Also playing great tenacious defense was Nick Balzano, Luke Posner, and Nick Ferriero. As a unit, the defense caused 10 turnovers and collected 27 groundballs.
When asked about his team’s performance coach Rory Whipple said he was ” very proud the way his players stepped up to the challenge”. Whipple later went on to credit their success to Arnold’s phenomenal play between the pipes posting 15 saves and .652 save %. He also expressed how excited the program was about earning the No.1 seed and hosting the conference tournament.
The Spartans return to action April 24 in the first leg of the SSC Tournament Semi-final. The game time and opponent for Tampa has yet to be determined, but will either be Rollins College or Florida Southern based on current standings. Live stats and broadcast will be available for fans to follow the action from home.
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