BOCA RATON, Fla.- Lynn University's lacrosse team is heading to the Sunshine State Conference Tournament for the first time in program history following a 12-10 victory over Saint Leo in the final game of the regular season on Saturday night. The Fighting Knights improve to 8-6 overall and 2-3 in league play while the Lions season comes to an end at 7-7 overall and 1-4 in the SSC.
It was a win-or-go-home situation for both teams as the Fighting Knights and Lions were duking it out for the #4 seed in the SSC Tournament. Both teams held 1-3 conference records entering the game. Lynn's victory earns the final spot and will face top-seed Tampa on Friday, April 24 in Tampa.
Two quick goals by SLU found the Fighting Knights in a 2-0 hole three minutes into the game. An unassisted Anthony Rainone goal make it a 2-1 game but the Lions fired back twice more extending its lead to three, 4-1, with 6:45 left in the first quarter. Lynn's Canadian duo of Austin Jerhoff and Austin Shircliff both tallied unassisted goals in the final minutes putting Lynn within one, 4-3, at the end of the period.
Mark Snellman scored on a pass from Johnny Gavin at 8:17 in the second quarter tying the game 4-all. Gavin dished out his second assist of the game, this time to Sam Turner, at 6:50 to give the Blue & White its first lead, 5-4. Brian Kiel scored at 5:49 on an assist from Snellman to give the Fighting Knights a 6-4 lead but Jake Gilmour got one back for SLU on a man-up opportunity with 3:59 to play in the half. Gavin had a beautiful shot from down low 10 yards outside the crease that slipped past the Lions' goalkeeper Dave Moore for a 7-5 lead that would hold unto halftime.
After the break Gilmour and Anthony Visintin scored to tie the game 7-7 with 7:42 to go in the third quarter. An extra man opportunity by the Blue & White gave Lynn an edge when Tyler Janvrin found Snellman to put the Fighting Knights back on top, 8-7.
Lynn went on to score three more goals over the course of the first nine minutes in the final period. First Jacob Van Leenen tallied an unassisted goal at 13:29 for a 9-7 lead. Kiel notched his second goal of the game at 10:59 and Jerhoff's unassisted goal at 6:06 gave the Fighting Knights their biggest lead of the game, 11-7. SLU tallied three goals over the next four minutes making it a one-goal game with 1:28 to play. With under a minute to go Gavin forced a key Lions turnover that gave the Blue & White the ball back deep in the SLU zone. Shircliff put the game away with 21 seconds remaining when he scored unassisted making it a 12-10 Lynn lead.
Vincent Genovesi was 13-for-23 at the face-off X in the win while Lynn's goalkeeper Nick Nehring made a career-high 16 saves in between the pipes. Tyler Briggs was a dominant force on the field collecting four ground balls and causing a turnover while helping the Blue & White to be successful on 11-of-13 clears.
Lynn edged SLU 34-33 in shots while both teams had 11 turnovers. Saint Leo's Jake Gilmour had a game-best five points with four goals and an assist. Lynn's Snellman and Gavin each had three points while eight different members of the Blue & White's squad tallied a goal. Additionally, four Knights had multi-goal games.
The Fighting Knights finish the regular season 8-6 overall and 2-3 in the SSC marking the first multi-win season for the Blue & White and finishing above .500.
Lynn will travel to Tampa on Friday, April 24 to take on the Spartans who are undefeated in SSC play this season at 5-0. Time is to be determined.
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