MELBOURNE, Fla. – No. 19 Florida Tech scored seven of the final eight goals of the game to defeat the Saint Anselm College women's lacrosse team 14-7 in the season opener for the Hawks on Saturday afternoon at Panther Stadium.
Saint Anselm (0-1) closed to within a goal with 19:49 remaining in the game after consecutive goals by Emma Palumbo, but Florida Tech (4-1) pulled away in the remaining time. The loss was the first for the Hawks in a season opener since 2013, snapping a run of three-straight season-opening victories.
Palumbo led the Saint Anselm attack with a hat trick with all three goals coming in the second half. Meaghan Sheehy tallied a team-high four points on two goals and two assists, while also grabbing a team-best six ground balls. Rachel Henderson added the other two goals for the Hawks.
Sara Grenier, Caroline Dunleavy and Lauren Tybor each netted three goals for Florida Tech, which also got two goals and one assist from Leah Dunn. Mary Gormley matched Sheehy with six ground balls.
Zoie Cavotta suffered the loss in her first-career start despite eight saves for the Hawks. Stephanie Stuart improved to 4-1 on the season by making nine stops for the Panthers.
Florida Tech raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game, before Saint Anselm rallied to tie it at 3-3. Sheehy provided goals on either side of a Henderson tally to help the Hawks tie it up, only for the Panthers to score twice in the final 1:24 of the half to go to the break up 5-3.
After Henderson grabbed the first goal of the second half, Florida Tech went back ahead by three on goals from Aleah Fjelstad and Grenier with 24:23 to go. Sheehy set up Palumbo for the game's next two goals to cut the deficit to a single goal. However, the Panthers scored the next three goals prior to a Palumbo free-position shot with 8:28 remaining and went on to score the final four goals in the final 7:16.
Florida Tech picked up 33 ground balls in the game, compared to 24 for Saint Anselm, aided by a 16-6 advantage in the second half. The hosts also committed 12 turnovers to 18 for the Hawks to help offset Saint Anselm's 14-9 advantage in draw controls.
Saint Anselm continues its four-game Florida swing on Monday, March 6 against Young Harris at Northeast Regional Park in Davenport at 11 a.m.