TAMPA, Fla. - Sophomore Chris Caiazza netted a game high five goals, but the Saint Leo men's lacrosse team found themselves at the bottom end of an 18-8 final score against the University of Tampa on Thursday evening from the Naimoli Family Athletic and Intramural Complex. The loss bounces the Lions out of the Deep South Conference tournament, and drops their record of 8-5 on the season, while the Spartans advance to the tournament championship and advance their mark to 10-4.
Behind Caiazza's five goal performance, George Proechel, Tom Horn, and Matt Weller scored one apiece. Horn and Proechel added assists to their scoring totals, while Kevin Hutchinson dished out an additional assist on the night.
Between the pipes for Saint Leo, freshman Dave Moore made a total of 12 saves while facing 56 shots and 30 shots on frame. His adversary for Tampa, Joseph Fiorucci, made six saves.
The Spartans were led in scoring by Greg Griffo, who tallied four goals and two assists on the night. Kyle Hemrick and Ryan Becker each earned hat tricks, with Hemrick adding two assists and Becker dishing out an assist of his own.
Tampa got out to an early 3-0 lead, but an unassisted goal from Horn put Saint Leo on the scoreboard at the 7:58 mark in the first quarter. The Spartans answered back with two more to extend their lead to 5-1. Caiazza netted his first goal of the night off of an assist from Hutchinson with 2:48 left in the period to pull the Lions to within three, 5-2, but Tampa's Griffo added one for the Spartans with 59 seconds on the clock to close out the quarter with a score of 6-2.
The second stanza opened up with a goal from Weller to pull the Lions back to within three with 13:53 on the clock. Tampa answered back to pull ahead 7-3 at the 8:56 mark, but Caiazza earned the play of the night two minutes later when he intercepted a clear from Fiorucci and shot ball from 30 yards out to find the back of an open net with 6:49 on the clock.
Despite the Lions' best defensive efforts, the Spartans went on a three goal run to pull ahead 10-4. Caiazza netted his third of the night with 2:50 left before the break, but Tampa added two more of their own in the final two minutes to set the score at 12-5 at halftime.
It was a slow third quarter, with neither team able to put a point on the scoreboard until the waning moments of the period. With 31 seconds left in the quarter, Horn connected a pass to Proechel on an extra man opportunity to give the Lions their sixth goal of the evening, setting the score at 12-6 entering into the final period.
The fourth quarter saw the Lions outscored by their opponent 6-2, setting the final tally at 18-8. Tampa led the shot count 56-26, and had more shots on target, 30-14. Saint Leo earned 18 ground balls to Tampa's 38, and were 9-for-29 on faceoff attempts. The Lions found the back of the net on 3-of-6 man-up opportunities, while holding the Spartans to just one goal on four extra man situations. Saint Leo was successful on 13-of-17 clear attempts.
The Lions return to action on Sunday, April 21, when they travel to Hilton Head, S.C. to take on Mars Hill College at neutral site Hilton Head High School. Game time against Mars Hill is slated for 2 p.m. For more information, visit saintleolions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's lacrosse DSC Tournament run by following the Lions on Twitter, an "Liking" the Green and Gold on Facebook.