Editor’s Note: Please welcome University of Georgia Junior midfielder and Team President, Conner Reed to MCLA Fan. He will be writing about the Bulldogs throughout the 2013 season as they compete in the SELC D1 and make a run for the National Tournament.
Dawgs win 2013 Southern Shootout
3-0 was nice, but the real challenge was coming as the bus pulled out of Athens and turned south bound to Tallahassee, Florida for the FSU Southern Shootout. The 3-day gauntlet this year included match-ups with Central Florida, South Carolina, and Florida State. All three games were rematches from the 2012 campaign.
As the Dawgs rolled up to Harkins Field on Friday evening, the rain had been coming down for hours. Though it had slowed some, it was evident that it was not about to stop (thank goodness for field turf). The beginning of the game mirrored our previous weekend’s match-up with the University of Florida: a tough first quarter, with back and forth scoring for both teams. The Dawgs were up 3-2. However, the Knights would take control of the 2nd quarter with some strong attack play. UCF took a 7-4 lead into halftime. As the rain continued to come down in the 3rd quarter, UCF tried to pull away and scored 6 goals. 4 tallies by UGA sophomore attackman Dan O’Meara kept the Dawgs within striking distance as the game entered the 4th quarter. About 4 minutes into the 4th, UCF received a 3-minute non-releasable penalty, and the Dawgs capitalized with 2 goals by Senior attackman Trent Dean and 1 goal from senior midfielder Matt Dumbleton. Dumbleton would strike again soon after, bringing the score to 14-12 UCF. Another quick goal by the Dawgs brought them within 1 with 3 and a half minutes left. Junior midfielder Conner Reed would tie the game up with 2 minutes left, and freshman attacker Kyle Reed hit the game winner before doing some end line sprints to run out the clock. “Our guys, especially the young guys, showed a lot of poise out there tonight,” commented senior defenseman Brett Botto.
The next day the rain continued to fall. So much so that we start thinking Florida’s nickname of the “Sunshine State” was purely for ironic purposes. Everyone knew this rematch would be hard fought game. “Both teams are very similar in their mindsets and their styles of play. The USC guys were extremely hungry for this one after the close game last year,” said Sophomore midfielder Vance Woodcox.
The Dawgs wasted no time putting goals on the board in this one, as Dumbleton, Dean, and C. Reed all put up early goals before a weather delay halted the game 4 minutes in. Sophomore midfielder George Walker quickly added a goal, but South Carolina responded making it 4-1 early. The Dawgs added 2 more goals before the half, but USC had narrowed the gap to only 2 goals. The rain got even heavier for the 2nd half, and play became sloppy. The Dawgs would add 3 goals in the 3rd, however, and go into the 4th up 9-4. The Gamecocks stormed back in the 4th and made it a one goal game. Clutch saves by sophomore goalie David Lumsden, and several key takeaways by defensemen Brett Botto, Sean Whitney, and Peter DeWispelaere held off the comeback, and the Dawgs took the very soggy 10-9 victory.
Sunday the sun finally came out, just in time for the championship game of the Southern Shootout between the Dawgs and the Florida State Seminoles. The Noles ended the Dawgs season the year before with 10-9 come-from-behind victory in the semi-finals of the SELC Championships. When asked about the FSU game, junior midfielder Bobby Merryman commented, “We’ve been waiting for this game since April, and we want to take it to ‘em.”
The Dawgs once again came out firing in the first quarter, with long possessions and precise shooting. Dean netted 2 early, assisted by Dumbleton and O’Meara. Walker also added one of his own. The Dawgs scored in transition early, too, when freshman midfielder Cayman Sotudeh followed his 3-assist night with a beautiful back-door cut and finish on the break. The Dawgs took a 4-1 lead into the second quarter. Florida State maintained possession of the ball most of the second quarter, but the Georgia defense was suffocating, not allowing any room. The keeper Lumsden stood on his head all day and added 20 saves on Sunday, including some incredible highlight reel stops. Defenesmen Whitney, DeWispelaere, and Botto swarmed early and often, protecting the crease. LSM’s Kolby Hanson and Jackson Ruck shut down the midfielder scorer for the Noles, and midfielders Whitehurst and Merryman again cleared the ball with absolute efficiency.
UGA took a 6-2 lead into the half after two more goals from Dean, his 100th and 101st goals of his career. Florida State would not lay down, however, and came back to make the game 6-4. In the end, the Dawgs would pull away with goals by K. Reed (2), Dumbleton, C. Reed, Walker, and freshman midfielder Kevin Doran, winning by a score of 11-6. Georgia graciously accepted the Southern Shootout trophy, and goalie David Lumsden won the Defensive MVP award for the second year in a row. This was FSU’s first loss at home in 5 years.
The Dawgs welcome out-of-conference foes Iowa and TCU to the Classic City this coming weekend.