The community-minded Georgia men’s club lacrosse team has experienced its share of growing pains under first-year head coach Billy O’Haire, stumbling to a 1-4 start against a tougher non-conference slate that included three preseason top 20 teams. On Friday evening, the Bulldogs sought to right the ship against SELC South West Division rival Alabama at Roswell’s Centennial High School, of which Red and Black junior midfielder Evan Hamrick is an alumnus. The Crimson Tide, like the Athenians, came into the game sporting an 0-1 league ledger, but the Red and Black got the better of the exchange, defeating the visitors by a nine-goal margin.
Freshman attack Phil McCarthy scored the initial goal that staked Georgia to the game’s earliest lead, then Hamrick extended the Bulldogs’ advantage to 2-0. With five minutes remaining in the opening period, junior attack Michael Trainer tacked on another score off of an assist by junior midfielder D.J. Nuckolls. The Red and Black kept up the onslaught when freshman middie John Newar became the second rookie to find the back of the net and senior midfielder Conner Reed carded an assist on a Nuckolls goal.
Reed added a score of his own to make it 6-0 with just over ten minutes remaining in the first half. Even though ‘Bama would never again trail by fewer than a half-dozen scores, the Athenians were not done: Trainer notched his second goal, thanks to an assist by junior faceoff specialist Harrison Cassada, before Alabama finally got a shot past junior goalie Alex Austin to pull back within six goals of the Classic City Canines. With fewer than six seconds showing on the clock, Trainer responded by scoring for the third time to send the contest to intermission with Georgia holding an 8-1 lead over the Crimson Tide, who had trailed Georgia Tech by the identical margin at the break in Atlanta two weeks earlier.
The junior attack picked up where he left off in the second half, turning a feed from Nuckolls into his fourth goal of the game early in the third quarter before pouring in his fifth shortly thereafter. Alabama gained ground on the Bulldogs with the back-to-back-to-back scores that made the margin 10-4, but Nuckolls and Trainer swapped roles as the latter earned the assist that enabled the former to collect his second goal of the contest and put the Bulldogs up by seven at the end of the penultimate period.
Trainer continued his one-man barrage by registering the sixth score that gave him a double hat trick early in the fourth quarter, then following that up with the assist that gave Nuckolls his own hat trick. Austin continued to make saves for the Athenians, enabling Georgia to close out a 13-4 win for its first league triumph of the season.
The victory serves as a huge boost for the Bulldogs, who will be back in action at 1:00 p.m. this Sunday, when the Georgia men’s club lacrosse team will face visiting South Florida at Alpharetta High School. In the interim, the Georgia women’s club lacrosse team will take on Florida tomorrow at Duluth’s Northview High School at 11:30 a.m. If you’re going to be in the Atlanta area this weekend, be sure to check out one or both of the Red and Black lax clubs.
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