Editor’s Note: Kyle Stinchcomb is back on MCLAFan with another update via the Clemson Tigers Men’s Lacrosse Blog. Clemson has been having a banner year, but it hasn’t been without adversity and even some losses in games. It’s Clemson lax time…
Let me just say it’s been an up and down two weeks for us here on the Clemson Lacrosse team. I’m going to try to keep it short this time around. Also, thank you for reading my last post about spring break and a crushed helmet. I got over 1600 views and that was really cool to see.
Two Thursdays ago, Missouri came to play us at home and it was a great experience to play a team from that far away. I’ve never been to Missouri, but sophomore Steve Dybus (Chaminade College Prep/ St. Louis, MO) was certainly excited to beat his home state’s team. From the first whistle it was pretty clear we were going to pull away. It was nice to get a pretty decisive win over one of the better teams in the GRLC.
That Friday we traveled to Columbia, SC to take on our in-state rival and divisional foe, University of South Carolina, or SCAR, as we can no longer refer to them as USC. As a very wise man once said, “Carolina is in Chapel Hill, USC is in California and the University in this state always has been, and always will be, Clemson.”
We were looking to clinch our second straight divisional title and our fifth straight regular season win over SCAR. (Editor’s Note: I LOVE this rivalry. It’s clear both Clemson and S Carolina have a really good time with it. See Gamecocks fan Scott MacPherson for further evidence. Glad we can be a healthy part of it!)
The first half was a back and forth battle, with both teams feeling each other out. In the third quarter, we pulled away with the score at the end of three set at 7-2, in our favor. In the fourth we kind of let the wheels fall off and USC went on a 5 or 6 goal run. It was tied up with under a minute left, and the ball was in our possession.
With about 20 seconds left, Senior midfielder Dan Huettenmoser took the ball and inverted from X. He face dodged and dumped one in with 14 seconds left in the game, to put us ahead 9-8. That would be the final score. We’re on our way to sending another group of seniors out without losing to SCAR (playoffs remain!), and a win always feels good.
Unfortunately, freshman faceoff man Charlie Pontiakos suffered a decent hamstring injury and would be forced to miss the next two games.
Last Wednesday, Georgia came to play us and let’s just say it did not go well… at all. We were wary of them but completely unprepared to play them. We didn’t really have a good solution to our new faceoff issue and we paid for it. I think we lost every single faceoff and their team speed allowed them to fast break multiple times.
They ran us off the field and beat us in every facet of the game. The final score was 14-6. It’s the worst loss I have suffered as a Tiger and I walked off the field pretty embarrassed. To lose that badly to any team is unacceptable and I hope we never come out that flat ever again.
Now this past weekend, we hosted Virginia Tech in a key SELC match up. We were ranked #12 and they were sitting at #11 in the national rankings. Our athletic office allowed us to use our football team’s practice field for the Saturday game and it was our senior’s last home game ever. Needless to say, it was a big game.
The game started out with us learning that Junior first liner Ryan Conlon, and a Senior captain (and first line midfielder) were both battling bronchitis and the flu respectively. They both decided to play through it and try to battle it out, doing their best Jordan impression.
This time around we were better prepared to fight on face-offs and our offense possessed the ball very well. The only thing that really killed us was transition. Their poles handled very well and really pushed the tempo in transition, and it led to 8 or so fast break goals. We didn’t adjust to their clear at all and it ended up causing us to lose the game. We ended up turning the ball over at the end, and the game ended 11-10 in favor of Tech.
It was really hard to see the seniors walk off their last home game with a tough loss.
Two straight losses is a new thing for us and let me tell you it does not feel good. The positive is that we feel very good about the possibility of facing those teams again in the SELC tournament. We really want a second chance at these teams, and I think it’s pretty likely that we’ll get it.
When you play 19 regular season games (and two NCAA scrimmages), you’re probably going to lose some games that you wish you could have back. That’s not an excuse either, far from it. Every team that beat us this season earned their win and was better than us on that day. But any chance for redemption is welcome.
We take our last road trip of the year, and last two regular season games, to Alabama this weekend to play Auburn and Alabama. We want to stop our losing skid, and we are hopeful that we can escape the injury bug that’s been plaguing our team. This is a great test for us and we are excited to meet it head on.
I’ll let you know how the trip goes next week. I’ll watch Roll Tide/War Eagle to refresh my memory on the two schools. We can’t wait to play Defensive Coordinator Mike French’s Alma Mater, Auburn. Apparently he was pretty good for them back in the day or something.
Until next time Laxallstars, follow us on twitter @ClemsonLacrosse!