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. See all of Conner’s exploits on the season here.
The most important weekend of the year was finally here for the University of Georgia Bulldogs: the SELC Championships in Johns Creek, Georgia. After the Dawgs saw the bracket, there was one goal: redemption.
Friday night started with a rematch of the Dawgs’ first loss of the season against the Clemson Tigers. Unlike the first match-up, Georgia started off fast. Senior attackman Trent Dean scored the first goal on the Tigers to put UGA up 1-0. Clemson would respond quickly with a man-up rip from 15 yards out. Sophomore midfielder George Walker would put the Dawgs back up and bring the score to 2-1 at the end of the first quarter. To start the second, Clemson would tie it up, but then Georgia went on a run. Another goal by Dean was followed by goals from sophomore attackman Michael Trainer and another by Walker. Clemson would net two of their own and bring the halftime count to 5-4 UGA.
The Tigers would tie it up quickly in the third, and the game would go back and forth until the end. Trainer and Dean would both add goals to put the Dawgs up 2 heading into the fourth. Halfway through a very physical fourth quarter, Clemson scored to come within one of the Dawgs’ lead. After a few close calls, the Tigers would get a pass through on the crease and score with 8 seconds left. In overtime, both teams saw several close calls. However, sophomore goalie David Lumsden and his defensive team of Brett Botto, Sean Whitney, and Peter DeWispelaere stood tall, making some very clutch takeaways and saves. Sophomore face-off man Harrison Cassada, along with freshman FOS Patrick Fennell won several key faceoffs to give the UGA offense a chance to score. Finally, in the fourth overtime, junior midfielder Conner Reed ended it with a left handed finish on the crease to send the Dawgs to the quarterfinals.
Saturday night, Northview High School saw Georgia and the Richmond Spiders faced-off for the first time in program history. Northview graduate Michael Trainer obviously felt comfortable back on familiar turf, as he put in 5 goals and had 2 assists – how’s that for a day, huh? Freshman attackman Kyle Reed also broke out with a 4 goal, 2 assist performance. Walker and Dumbleton would both put in a goal each, and Dean added 2 of his own. Richmond hung tough for three quarters, but the Dawgs’ depth proved too much. After a 13-8 victory, UGA advanced to the SELC finals for a rematch against rival Georgia Tech.
A rainy Sunday afternoon started eerily similar to the teams’ first match-up just a week prior. Even though the Dawgs possessed the ball for most of the first quarter, Tech put up two goals to take an early lead into the second quarter. UGA got on the board early in the second quarter with a goal by Conner Reed, but Georgia Tech would answer with another goal of their own to stop all momentum and make the game 3-1 Jackets. Late in the second, the Dawgs finally broke through. Senior midfielder Matt Dumbleton put a lefty rip past the Tech keeper, and sophomore midfielder George Walker continued the Alpharetta High School alumni show with a rip to tie the score at 3. Tech would add one right before half and take a 4-3 lead into the locker room.
A lightning delay kept the teams off the field for almost an hour, but a young Georgia team did not let it affect them. A little Motown funk just before hitting the field was just the thing to get the boys fired up (too bad I already used the “yazz flute” clip…).
The Dawgs started fast, as George Walker put a lefty ripper in to tie it at 4 – game on. As the rain continued to pour down, Georgia continued to hold possession. Then, the unthinkable happened: a fast break goal. I think it may have been our first all year. Junior midfielder Bobby Merryman fed senior defenseman Sean Whitney (who missed a WIDE OPEN goal on Friday night) on the break, and then quick ball movement ended with a Trent Dean goal on a Kyle Reed assist. 5-4 Dawgs, midway through the fourth. Once again, the Dawgs would hold possession to burn clock. With four minutes remaining, Conner Reed would put a shot stick side high past Tech’s goalie, and UGA held a 6-4 lead. Lumsden stonewalled several Tech shots in the final minutes, only allowing one more to get past him. In the end, the Dawgs finished their redemption weekend with a 6-5 win and an SELC Championship. After all the rain we’ve seen this year, redeeming a previous loss in a downpour is what I call poetic justice.
Michael Trainer, Kolby Hanson, Peter DeWispelaere, David Lumsden, George Walker, Trent Dean, and Harrison Cassada represented UGA on the All-Tournament Team, including Trainer and Lumsden winning Offensive and Defensive Players of the Tournament, respectively.
Georgia also had their fair share of all-conference players: Davide Lumsden (Honorable Mention Goalie), Brett Botto (Honorable Mention Defense), Sean Whitney (2nd Team Defense), Trent Dean (1st Team Attack), and Conner Reed (1st Team Midfield). Follow the Dawgs on their trip to the MCLA National Tournament through the team website (UGAlacrosse.com), Facebook page (UGA Men’s Lacrosse Team), or Twitter account (@UGAlax).