WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. –– No. 14 Palm Beach Atlantic got back into the swing of things in a big way, defeating No. 21 Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) 11-8 on Wednesday night. The out-of-conference game between ranked opponents was a key restart for the Sailfish, who played their first game in 16 days. In early March, the 'Fish played five games in nine days that resulted in wins over then-No. 9 Siena Heights, plus Stonehill and Columbus State, but the break was greatly needed.
"It's rare that you can get more than two weeks off in March," said PBA coach Chris Southard. "We used that as an opportunity to heal up and get back to basics. Sometimes in the midst of the season, you neglect what got you there in the first place."
As the Sailfish (7-3) and Lynx (5-3) faced off, it was the defenses that came out fast and physical. Both teams combined for four goals in the first half, leading to a 2-2 tie at halftime. Mike Mastracchio (Jupiter, Fla./St. Leo Univ.) scored both goals for Palm Beach Atlantic.
The second half opened up on a Lindenwood-Belleville goal that would lead to a 5-3 Lynx lead with 9:45 to play in the third quarter. PBA found its answer through Payne McIntosh (West Palm Beach, Fla./Denison Univ.), who scored two of three goals on a Sailfish run, taking a 6-5 lead. He finished with four points, a season-high.
One more LU-B goal set the stage for a 6-6 tie heading into the final stanza, where Palm Beach Atlantic made it's final push. The 'Fish scored five of the next six goals, turning a 6-6 game into an 11-7 lead with 1:21 remaining. After one final Lynx goal, the clock expired, giving PBA another ranked win on its tournament resume.
Greg Swanson (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton) led the Sailfish with two goals and three assists.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Freshman goalie Steven Grove (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./The King's Academy) finished with a season-high sixteen saves for a 66% save percentage in the win. His five key saves in the fourth quarter pushed the Sailfish on to victory and he was awarded the game ball. He then awarded the game ball to freshman midfielder Christian Corbin (Bowie, Md./Annapolis-St. Mary's), as he did after being awarded the game ball against No. 9 Siena Heights.
Palm Beach Atlantic did not find the back of the net from the 2:58 mark of the first quarter until the 12:39 mark of the third quarter. That's a total time of 20:19 without a goal, and it's PBA's longest such streak this season.
LETTING THEM PLAY
The officials let both teams play on Wednesday night, throwing their first flag with 0:50 remaining in the first half. In total, just 3:30 of penalties were assessed in the game.
Wednesday night's 11-8 victory was PBA's third in-a-row against the Lynx, making the 'Fish 3-0 all-time against Lindenwood-Belleville. This is the first meeting where the game was not decided by one goal (W, 8-7 in 2015; W, 13-12 in 2014).
WHAT'S ON TAP
The Sailfish are in Savannah, Ga. this weekend for a two-game set against SCAD and Coastal Carolina. PBA plays the Bees first on Saturday (1:00 p.m.) before turning around on Sunday to face the Chanticleers (noon), with both games being played at the SCAD Athletics Complex. Follow the 'Fish on Twitter for live score updates.