The 2014 WCLA Championships got underway at Virginia Beach today, and the Georgia women’s club lacrosse team came into the tournament with a No. 4 national seed and a 14-5 record that included four one-goal losses, three of which were in overtime. The Red and Black ladies played their 20th game of the campaign this morning against 13th-seeded Texas, a team the Bulldogs beat, 13-6, during the regular season. In the May 7 rematch, the score was similar and the margin was the same, as the Classic City Canines carded a 14-7 victory.
Though the Longhorns took possession on the opening draw, the Burnt Orange’s first shot hit the post, and the ball then moved in succession from senior midfielder Lindsay Brinker to junior midfielder Katie Ezell to senior midfielder Callie Wheatley to the back of the net to put Georgia out in front, 1-0, in the opening minutes of the contest. An ensuing feed from junior attack Parisa Ayers to senior attack Murphy Ferguson put the Athenians out in front by two, and a subsequent save by freshman goalie Caroline Youngs leading to a score by junior attack Jenna Dreyer gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes left in the first half.
Texas narrowed the gap with a pair of free position shots, but Dreyer responded by snagging a loose ball and finding twine to make the score 4-2. Although Youngs continued to card stops, the Longhorns cut the lead to one with a third successful free position shot, then, after a series of missed shots and turnovers, Ferguson assisted senior attack Emma Goodnow on the goal that extended the Georgia lead to two. Additional giveaways ensued before the Burnt Orange pulled within one with six minutes showing on the clock, and the game proceeded to halftime with the scoreboard showing a 5-4 edge for the Athenians.
Junior defender Brooks Leavell won the opening draw after intermission, leading to a quick score by Dreyer, but Leavell thereafter received a yellow card, leading to the goal by Texas that cut the margin to 6-5. Youngs kept making saves, though, so the Bulldogs were able to extend their advantage to two once more on a feed from freshman attack Maddie Hunter to Dreyer with 18 minutes remaining in the game.
The Longhorns yet again cut the Georgia lead to a lone goal just inside the 13-minute mark, but Wheatley won the subsequent draw and sophomore midfielder Tali Brennan found the back of the net on the shot down the middle that made it 8-6 for the good gals. Wheatley won the next draw, as well, producing a possession that ended with sophomore midfielder Mady Katz notching the goal that put the Bulldogs out in front by three. Ferguson then tacked on the insurance score that staked the Red and Black to a 10-6 advantage with nine and a half minutes left to play.
What had been a nailbiter continued to move in the direction of a laugher as Georgia took the draw and Dreyer bounced a shot into the goal to extend the Athenians’ lead to five. Senior midfielder Candace Ellery then got into the act, making it a 12-6 ballgame before Texas at long last answered the Bulldog flurry by scoring with six minutes remaining on the clock. Determined not to let the Longhorns up off the mat, though, freshman midfielder Gaby Lohner and senior defender Kelly Arnhart responded with goals of their own.
In the Red and Black’s first-round tourney matchup, Georgia never trailed, and the score was never tied after the initial 0-0 deadlock was broken. The Bulldogs broke open a back-and-forth battle with five consecutive goals in the second half to put some distance between themselves and the Longhorns and serve notice to the rest of the WCLA that the Athenians intend to make their presence known on the national scene.
Purchase the print edition of Fighting Like Cats and Dogs (covering 1977 to 2003)
Download the online supplement to Fighting Like Cats and Dogs (covering 1897 to 1976)