Strong Defensive Efforts Leads Spartans to 9-8 win over Wheeling Jesuit Lacrosse

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Joseph Fiorucci made 11 saves, while the defense forced 15 turnovers as the University of Tampa men’s lacrosse team defeated Wheeling Jesuit 8-7, Saturday afternoon at Charlotte Christian High School. With the win the Spartans improve to 6-4, while the Cardinals drop to 6-4.

Wheeling Jesuit struck first as Brian Frank scored a goal to put the Cardinals ahead 1-0. Tampa responded a minute later as Drew Motschwiller netted the equalizer with 7:32 remaining in the opening period. The Cardinals scored one more time to give Wheeling Jesuit a 2-1 lead after the first quarter.

Tampa came out strong in the second quarter scoring four goals on four shots. Andrew Smith started the Spartans scoring, forcing a Cardinals turnover in Tampa territory, picked up the ground ball and netted his lone goal of the game. After a Cardinals goal, Ryan Becker found Greg Griffo across the middle for a goal to tie the game 3-3 with 8:10 left in the first half. Minutes later, Brian Patton wrapped around the cage and netted a goal to give Tampa its first lead of the game 4-3. The two teams traded goals before the end of the half, giving the Spartans 5-4 lead at the break.

Two and a half minutes into the third quarter, Brian Patton bounced a shot into the back of the cage to extend Tampa’s lead to 6-4. The scored remained until one minute left in the quarter when Matt Bilak split two defenders and shot a bouncer past the goalie to give Tampa a 7-4 lead.

Wheeling Jesuit scored back-to-back goal to start the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 7-6 with 8:31 left. The Spartans responded as Smith connected with Griffo for the goal to extend Tampa’s lead to 8-6. Minutes later, Sean Wright’s goal cut Tampa’s lead to 8-7 with 3:27 remaining in the fourth quarter. Wheeling Jesuit had an opportunity to tie the game but Frank’s shot went wide and the Spartans ran out of the clock for the 8-7 final.

Griffo and Patton each netted a pair of goals, while Smith tallied a goal and an assist in the game. Trevor Calleja went 7-14 on faceoffs and picked up a team-high four ground balls.

The Spartans back line of Eric Dance, Larry Gress, and Marty Heyn combined for four caused turnovers and three ground balls. Trio also help hold the Cardinals scoreless on six man-up opportunities.

The Spartans will return to action Tuesday, March 26, when they host MIT. Game time will be 7 p.m.

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