Georgia Men's and Women's Club Lacrosse Teams Suffer Tough Losses in California ------<#)

The Georgia women’s club lacrosse team had an outstanding Valentine’s Day, carding wins over defending national champion Colorado State and tourney host UC-Santa Barbara, but their male counterparts did not start as successfully in the Golden State, as the Gaucho guys dealt the Bulldog men a 17-4 setback.

Georgia scored one goal in each period, falling behind by margins of 4-1 after one quarter, 9-2 at the half, and 13-3 at the start of the final stanza. UCSB, which was the second top four team the Red and Black had faced in 2014, fired at least nine shots on goal in each of the first three periods, while Gaucho starting goalie Conrad Carlson stopped four of the seven shots taken against him by Georgia.

In Saturday’s penalty-riddled action in California, the men continued to struggle against top-tier non-conference competition, while the women fought hard against tremendous disadvantages and came up short in spite of displaying great fortitude. Up first were the ladies, who followed up five straight games against teams currently ranked in the top 26 in the computer rankings with a sixth such outing, this time taking on 11th-rated Brigham Young on the second day of the Santa Barbara Shootout. (Put differently, Georgia faced a preseason top five team for the third time in two days.)

The Cougars took control of the opening draw, but junior defender Brooks Leavell, one of several standouts on the Georgia D, carded the steal that gave possession to the good gals. A yellow card drawn by senior midfielder Callie Wheatley awarded BYU the opportunity for a free position shot, but freshman goalie Caroline Youngs came up with the save to preserve the scoreless deadlock. The Bulldogs’ shutdown defenders then halted the Cougs in their tracks, and sophomore midfielder Tali Brennan came away with the ground ball. A wide shot by senior attack Murphy Ferguson and a kick save by Youngs kept the score knotted at zero.

After Brigham Young became the first team on the board, junior midfielder Morgan Shumate came away from the draw with possession of the ball, but another errant shot by Ferguson failed to find the back of the net, striking the post instead. An ensuing takeaway by sophomore midfielder Mady Katz led to a free position shot for sophomore midfielder Arden Birdwell, but the Cougar goalie came up with the save to keep BYU in front, 1-0. Another stop by Youngs, followed by a steal by junior defender Sarah Biondich, kept the margin unchanged until a Georgia turnover and a Cougar free position goal put the Athenians in a 2-0 hole.

Undaunted, the Bulldogs came back from the deficit. Youngs notched another save on a free position shot, Ferguson scored on a roll from the left, and junior defender Cathryn Winslow took control on the ensuing draw. The Red and Black continued to play aggressively, particularly on defense, leading senior midfielder Candace Ellery to come away with a steal, but BYU extended its lead to 3-1 on another free position shot.

It was then that the yellow card situation got completely out of hand; senior defender Kelly Arnhart, Brennan, and junior midfielder Katie Ezell all had penalties called against them, bringing the Bulldogs’ total for the first half to an incredible seven yellow cards (including a pair of verbal infractions). Because BYU had none called against them before intermission, the Athenians played the balance of the first half, and the entirety of the second half, at a four-woman disadvantage.

Playing three-on-seven on both ends of the field with a 4-1 halftime deficit, the Bulldogs pulled to within 5-4 on a roll from the left by senior attack Emma Goodnow and free position goals by Ezell and junior attack Jenna Dreyer. However, there simply was no way any team could overcome the handicap of spending more than half the game down four players, so the Cougars went on to win an 11-7 outing featuring ten total yellow cards.

Later this afternoon, the Georgia men’s club lacrosse team took the field in San Luis Obispo to face preseason No. 18 Cal Poly. The Bulldogs took an early lead on a goal by junior attack Michael Trainer off of an assist from senior midfielder Conner Reed with eight and a half minutes remaining in the opening period. Fewer than five minutes later, the Mustangs tied the contest, but sophomore attack Kyle Reed notched a goal following a feed from sophomore midfielder Cayman Sotudeh to afford the Athenians a 2-1 lead at the close of the first quarter.

However, penalties came back to bite the Bulldog men, as well. Cal Poly took a 3-2 lead with a two-man advantage, then later scored an additional goal while playing with an extra man. That, plus six Mustang possessions off of the first eight faceoffs, paved the way for an 8-2 halftime lead for the home team, despite a pair of impressive saves by the Red and Black in a man-down situation. Sotudeh and Trainer each had a multi-goal game on Saturday, but, in the end, the Bulldogs fell to Cal Poly by a 19-5 margin.

Since I’ve brought you nothing but bad news in this report, I feel obligated to provide at least some positive Georgia lacrosse coverage, so (with my apologies for the personal indulgence) I would like to take this opportunity to notify you that, today, my ten-year-old son, Thomas, went to Rock Eagle for the 4-H Cloverleaf District Project Achievement public speaking competition. Delivering a speech about lacrosse, Thomas already had won first place in the sports category in the county-level competition in Henry County, which produced the highest number of students who placed at the district level. Thomas contributed to that tally, finishing second out of about 55 kids in his category with a five-minute speech on the fastest-growing team sport in the United States.

So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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