Pioneers fall to #7 Tampa in season opener

Pioneers fall to #7 Tampa in season opener

TAMPA, Fla. --- Seventh-ranked Tampa defeated Tusculum 19-7 in season-opening men's lacrosse action Sunday afternoon at the Naimoli Family Fields.

Bryan Wright had four goals and an assist and Max Lambert added three goals and an assist for the Spartans (1-0), who led 10-3 at halftime and finished the match with a 52-25 edge in shots over the Pioneers. Tampa also had a 43-18 advantage in ground balls and won 23 of 29 faceoffs in the match.

Dallas Wade led the Pioneers (0-1) with three goals and Nate Wade added a goal and two assists for the Pioneers, who converted on both of their man-up opportunities while killing off three of four man-down situations to the Spartans.

Lambert opened the scoring just 35 seconds into the first quarter, then teamed up with Ross Dickerson for goals seven seconds apart as the Spartans led 3-0 with 6:47 left in the opening quarter. The Pioneers got on the scoreboard with 5:39 left in the quarter on a goal from Keegan Bell, but Wright extended the Tampa lead to 4-1 with 15 seconds to play in the period.

Tusculum pulled within 4-2 as Quentin Jennings scored just over three minutes into the second quarter, but Tampa came back with goals from Hunter Van Horn, Lambert and Matt Vetter to go on top 7-2 with 8:53 to play in the half. Nate Wade scored his first of the game with 7:31 remaining in the quarter as Tusculum cut the deficit to 7-3, but a goal from Jud Huxtable and two from Wright gave Tampa a 10-3 lead at halftime.

Tampa outshot Tusculum 30-10 in the first half, and won 12 of 15 faceoffs from the Pioneers. The Spartans also had a 19-14 advantage in ground balls in the half.

Tusculum opened the second-half scoring just 19 seconds into the third quarter as Tyler Klarner scored a man-up goal. After the Spartans responded 2 1/2 minutes later on a goal by Jake Mosher McGraw, Dallas Wade scored his first of the afternoon with 10:33 to go in the quarter to cut the Tampa lead to 11-5. Goals from Wright and Vetter extended the Spartan advantage to 13-5 with 6:27 to play in the quarter, before Dallas Wade and Tampa's Andrew Kew exchanged goals in the final 30 seconds of the period to send Tampa to the final quarter with a 14-6 lead.

Tampa built its lead in the fourth quarter with five unanswered goals from five different players, before Dallas Wade closed out the scoring with the man advantage with 48 seconds left to set the final score.

Joel Edgar and Eric Varlas led the Pioneers with three ground balls apiece, with two caused turnovers from Edgar. Dickerson went 14-for-16 on faceoffs for the Spartans and collected a game-high 10 ground balls, with six ground balls from Lambert and four from Wright.

Freshman Patrick Thomas finished with 16 saves in his collegiate debut for the Pioneers. For Tampa, B.J. Borowski played the first three quarters and made six saves, while Bryan Karn had two saves in the fourth quarter for the Spartans.

The Pioneers are off next weekend before playing their home opener on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. against Shorter at Pioneer Field.