The Georgia men’s club lacrosse team faced a major test on Sunday afternoon, as the Bulldogs were on the road in the Palmetto State, where they faced SELC North East Division-leading Clemson in a critical conference battle against the rival Tigers. The Classic City Canines earned an 8-5 victory over the Fort Hill Felines, claiming their fourth straight triumph to inch above .500 for the first time this spring.
Although junior goalie Alex Austin had a solid day in the cage, Clemson managed to hold a 2-1 lead late in the first quarter. The Bulldogs’ lone goal had come from the stick of senior midfielder Conner Reed, but junior middie George Walker found the back of the net to even the score at the end of the opening period. Reed gave Georgia a 3-2 second-quarter lead off of an assist by junior attack Michael Trainer.
After carrying that slim one-goal edge into the break, the Red and Black built on their lead in the third stanza, thanks to goals by freshman attack Phil McCarthy and Walker. The Tigers narrowed the gap to 5-3 in a man-advantage situation after the visitors were called for a push, but junior midfielder D.J. Nuckolls extended the Bulldogs’ lead once more.
The Country Gentlemen scored again, then Walker wrapped up the hat trick to make the score 7-4 in the final minute of the third quarter. As Austin reached double digits in saves for the day, the margin remained unchanged until Walker found twine for the fourth time to double up the Orange and Purple, 8-4, with eight minutes remaining in the game. Clemson carded the contest’s final goal, which proved to be of strictly statistical significance.
This win was huge for the Bulldogs, and not only because it marks the Red and Black’s first true road win of the season. Following a shaky start, Georgia now appears poised to defend its 2013 SELC championship. First, though, the Athenians will face a stiff challenge from outside the region when Georgia faces Pittsburgh on the evening of March 21. The Classic City Canines are 5-1 against Southern teams this season . . . and 0-3 against clubs from other parts of the country.
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