Georgia Women's Club Lacrosse Team Takes Down Defending National Champion Colorado State ------<#)

The Georgia men’s and women’s club lacrosse teams are in California for Valentine’s Day, and the ladies got the weekend underway with an early afternoon outing on the first day of the 26th annual Santa Barbara Shootout. Against a Colorado State squad that has won three of the last four WCLA national championships, the Red and Black emerged with their undefeated season intact following a hard-fought 11-10 victory.

An initial draw control by senior midfielder Callie Wheatley followed by a free position shot by senior attack Emma Goodnow came to naught thanks to a save by the Rams’ goalie, so the first score of the game was by Colorado State. Wheatley answered with a tying goal, but a Georgia turnover led to the score by CSU junior attack Ali Slyne that made it 2-1 for the defending national champs. Shortly thereafter, though, a free position shot by junior midfielder Katie Ezell snarled the score once more.

The seesaw battle continued, with Colorado State going back out in front on a free position goal, freshman goalie Caroline Youngs getting a save, and senior midfielder Candace Ellery firing high. Slyne pushed the Rams’ advantage to 4-2, only to have Georgia answer by moving the ball from senior attack Murphy Ferguson to junior attack Parisa Ayers to junior attack Jenna Dreyer to the back of the net. Slyne scored again and the Bulldogs turned the ball over, but another stop by Youngs and another goal by Dreyer cut the Red and Black deficit to one.

Wheatley again got draw control, leading to a pass from Dreyer to Ferguson for the tying score with 15 minutes remaining in the half. Once more Wheatley gained control of the draw, and the ensuing free position shot by Ayers gave the Athenians their first lead of the game, 6-5. A scramble for control on the next draw led to a Colorado State possession and a Rams goal to deadlock the contest anew. Georgia drew a yellow card for an illegal substitution, producing a free position shot for CSU, but Youngs once again kept the ball from finding the back of the goal. A wild first half closed out with a score by sophomore midfielder Mady Katz off of a feed by fellow sophomore midfielder Arden Birdwell to send the Bulldogs to intermission holding a 7-6 advantage.

The second half opened auspiciously for Georgia, as senior midfielder Lindsay Brinker scooped up a ground ball and Dreyer fired a free position goal to extend the Red and Black’s lead to two. Following saves by both goalies, the Rams carded an unlikely score on a pass that rolled into the goal. Aggressive play by the Athenians produced takeaways, but also penalties, and a Bulldog foul allowed Colorado State to knot the tally at eight goals per side on a free position shot by Slyne with a little over twelve minutes remaining to play.

Goodnow gained control of the ensuing draw, and, following a Georgia timeout, Dreyer notched the score that gave the Bulldogs the lead. The next possession saw the ball move between Ezell, Ferguson, Ayers, and, ultimately, the goal to make it 10-8 for the good gals. Back-to-back saves by Youngs on free position shots kept the margin at two until Ferguson found Goodnow to stake the Red and Black to an 11-8 lead with a little over five and a half minutes showing on the clock.

Though CSU gained control of the draw, a steal by senior defender Kelly Arnhart allowed Georgia to take the contest below the four-minute mark before the Rams scored to cut the Bulldogs’ edge back to two. Another Colorado State goal made it 11-10 with 109 seconds left, and, after the Bulldogs came out of the hard-fought draw with possession and called a timeout, the defending national champions reclaimed custody of the ball while the Athenians attempted to run out the clock. However, junior defender Brooks Leavell came up with the game-saving steal that secured an impressive triumph for the Bulldogs and produced a bit of unseemly whining by the dethroned Rams:

Friday’s remaining games will see the Georgia women face UC-Santa Barbara at 6:00 p.m. and the Georgia men face UC-Santa Barbara at 8:00 p.m., but, unfortunately, those are Pacific times, which translate to a thousand o’clock here in Georgia, so you are hereby directed to the Twitter feeds of the respective combatants this evening for real-time results while you (undoubtedly eagerly) await my postgame recaps later in the weekend.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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