Comeback Bid Falls Short as Florida Tech Holds off Men's Lacrosse, 9-8

Junior Elliot Sykora
Junior Elliot Sykora

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Florida Institute of Technology outscored MIT, 5-2, in the opening frame and managed to hold on for a 9-8 victory over MIT in a non-conference men's lacrosse game on Friday. Freshman Paul Orrson (Baltimore, Md.) led all scorers with three goals and an assist for the Engineers, whose ledger lowered to 1-5 on the year.

The Panthers jumped out to a 4-0 advantage midway through the first quarter before freshman Luke Verdi (Middletown, Md.) put MIT on the board with 4:28 on the clock. FIT extended its lead with just over a minute to go but a solo effort from Orrson with nine ticks left kept MIT close.

The hosts increased their margin to 7-2 after five minutes elapsed in the second stanza. The score remained unchanged until the Engineers rattled off four goals during the final six minutes of the quarter. Sophomore Chris Cook (Tully, N.Y.) ignited the run while Orrson followed with an unassisted marker in a span of 58 seconds. He then found sophomore Bill Kelleher (Pittsburgh, Pa.) for a man-down goal with 1:05 remaining. Junior Elliot Sykora (Wilmette, Ill.) won the ensuing faceoff and went directly to goal to bring MIT within one (7-6) at the intermission.

FIT ended its 12-minute scoring drought and gained some breathing room early in the third quarter. The Engineers continued to attack, eventually finding success on a strike from Orrson that was set up by freshman Alex Seo (Westport, Conn.) at the 6:40 mark. The Panthers responded with another goal to go up, 9-7, heading into the final frame.

FIT controlled play during the early stages of the fourth quarter but MIT's defense kept them off the board. A save by senior Christopher Rullan (Wexford, Pa.) led to a quick transition strike by Cook with 9:59 left to play. The game became a back-and-forth affair before a frantic final three minutes. During a clearing attempt by the Panthers, sophomore John Kramer (Glastonbury, Conn.) forced a turnover which led to a pair of shots by Verdi, one of which was wide while the other was blocked with 2:01 to go. On FIT's next clearing attempt, junior Tim Wilczynski (Old Lyme, Conn.) generated a turnover and scooped up the groundball but his shot was just off the mark. The Panthers were awarded what proved to be the final possession of the game as they held on for the win.

Rullan finished the day with 15 saves and three groundballs while Kramer totaled eight groundballs and two caused turnovers. Wilczynski and junior Joel Santisteban (Lawrence, N.Y.) both had two caused turnovers as junior Britt Cyr (Cincinnati, Ohio) posted four groundballs and was 5-of-7 in faceoffs. Sykora rounded out the Engineers with three groundballs, one caused turnovers, and a 4-of-7 performance in faceoffs.

Upon its return to Cambridge, MIT will host UMass Boston on Tuesday, April 2.