Tech’s men’s lacrosse team improved to 4-0 with a pair of big home victories at the SAC Fields on Thursday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 20. Tech cruised past Reinhardt College 22-4 on that Thursday and took down divisional foe Alabama 13-6 two days later.
The Jackets, who play in the West division of the Southeastern Lacrosse Conference, were coming off of a pair of narrow 9-8 victories in their first two games of the season. They held off Vanderbilt in overtime on the road on Feb. 6 and defeated divisional foe Ole Miss in icy conditions at home on Feb. 13.
“We played in four inches of snow [against Ole Miss], and we actually had to come out four hours before the game to shovel snow off with shovels and garden rakes,” said junior attacker Casey Timmerman, the team president.
The clear and warm environment at the SAC Fields on Thursday, Feb. 18 offered a welcome change, and Tech—the No. 10 team in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) Division I poll—rolled to a 22-4 victory over Reinhardt College in their third game of the season. Sophomore attacker Eric Schlipf had four goals and freshman midfielder Justin Kiehne had three, while sophomore attacker Neal Toomey added a goal and four assists for a team-high five points.
In the first-ever game for the visiting Reinhardt program, the outcome was never in question, as Tech jumped out to an 8-1 lead after one period and led 12-1 at halftime in the rout.
The easy victory allowed Tech to get considerable playing time for its reserves, including freshman goalie John Mahoney, who played 17 minutes in relief of junior starting goalie Sam Karpowicz.
“You want those [big wins] because it gives you an opportunity to clear the bench and get guys in. It’s nice for them to get in the game and get rest to the others,” said men’s Head Coach Ken Lovic.
Tech looked to improve to 2-0 in divisional play against Alabama on Saturday, shortly after the women’s team’s own game against the Crimson Tide. The physical nature of the Alabama squad did not phase the Jackets, who played a physical game themselves but also took advantage of their superior team speed.
The first quarter went back-and-forth, but Tech gradually built up a 5-2 lead at the end of 15 minutes, thanks mainly to three goals by senior attacker Alex Del Pozzo.
Alabama picked up a goal off a free position early in the second quarter to cut the lead to 5-3, but it was their only score in the period. Tech maintained control of the ball for the majority of the quarter to prevent any Alabama chances. The Jackets added four goals in the quarter—including one by Timmerman, who was playing through a shoulder injury—to bring the lead to 9-3 at the half.
Alabama came out of the break strong, picking up a goal in the first minute and adding a second with 10:13 left while keeping Tech’s attackers in check.
The Jackets, though, regained control of the game and found ways to score. Toomey notched a pair of goals and Del Pozzo had two assists in transition as Tech increased its lead to 12-5 by the end of the third.
“The guys did well transition-wise. That’s the big part of our game, is that we play good, solid defense and get the ball in transition with opportunities to score,” Lovic said.
The fourth quarter passed fairly quietly. Tech continued to control the ball and limit Alabama’s opportunities, and when the Tide did threaten the Jackets played solid defense to prevent any good looks on shots. Lovic inserted the reserves late in the game, and Tech went on to win 13-6.
Del Pozzo led the way with four goals and two assists. Junior midfielder Joe Gibson had a goal and two assists, and seven players contributed points in the game as Tech peppered the Alabama goalie with 45 shots.
In Tech’s cage, junior goalie Sam Karpowicz made 11 saves as part of the strong defensive effort. Junior defenseman Zack Gassman was named the player of the game.
“We were focused on playing a complete game…We just went hard all game and luckily it paid off,” Timmerman said.
At 4-0, Tech will go on the road for games against Kentucky on Feb. 26 and Marquette on Feb. 27 in hopes of continuing the undefeated streak to open the year.
“We’ve only played them once each, and we won both, so we’re looking for a good weekend up there…but both teams will be gunning for us since we’ve beaten them. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to go 6-0,” Lovic said.