Tech’s women’s lacrosse team took to the turf for a series of home games over the weekend. The Jackets stumbled to a 16-2 defeat against highly-ranked Georgia on Friday, Feb. 19 but rebounded with a pair of wins over South Florida (16-8) and Alabama (17-12) the following day to reach 2-1 in league play.
Friday’s rivalry game against UGA marked the first game for the women’s team since their victory in the Mardi Gras Tournament from Feb. 6-7. Tech was one of six teams in the tournament and earned a spot in the championship game after close victories over Wisconsin and the Central Lacrosse Club and a 17-1 victory over LSU. The title game featured a rematch with Central; Tech pulled ahead early and held off Central’s comeback attempt, winning 5-3 to take the championship.
“This is our third year going. We hadn’t done too well in the past, so it was nice to go down there and get some wins,” said senior attacker Gabby Sirow, the women’s team president.
The Jackets did not have an easy task against UGA, the No. 11 club team in the nation and one of Tech’s North division rivals in the Southeastern Women’s Lacrosse League (SWLL).
As the game began, UGA took advantage of two early free positions to pull ahead 2-0 five minutes in, but Tech locked down defensively and kept the Bulldogs off the board until midway through the 30-minute first half.
Tech got on the board with 7:17 left in the half, when Sirow ran toward the goal off a free position and fired in a shot to cut UGA’s lead to 6-1.
“I was looking to shoot…It was a spot in the game where we just really needed a goal, so I was going to take my chances,” Sirow said.
The Bulldogs continued to score repeatedly, though, picking up most of the loose balls while preventing Tech from getting many chances on the offensive end. Tech’s defense once again came on strong in the second half, though, and held the Bulldogs scoreless for a stretch of nearly 15 minutes.
Near the end of that stretch, junior midfielder Georgina Schaefer had an opportunity while rushing toward the cage; she cut toward the middle and fired a shot past the goalie to give Tech its second goal.
Ultimately, UGA’s speed and Tech’s overall youth played in the Bulldogs’ favor, and Tech dropped the contest 16-2.
“I think we gave it a good shot tonight. I think everybody did the best that they could…it just didn’t work out,” said women’s Head Coach Kevin Richards. “[UGA] made good passes and they hustled after the ground balls, and it showed on the scoreboard. I think if we had executed a little better, the result would have been different.”
The game was the toughest test to date for Tech’s newly installed zone defense, but both Sirow and Richards were pleased with the team’s defensive play.
“We play a hybrid 4-2 with a rover, [with] four people across the top of the arc covering zones and two people low playing a combination of man and zone, and then a rover that fills in. It’s a pretty complicated system, but it’s very effective when it works. I think it’s a lot of the reason we did so well down in New Orleans, and I think a lot of teams are going to have trouble with us because they’re not going to be familiar with it,” Richards said.
Richards predicted that the team would rebound and win both games on Saturday, and they did just that.
The morning game saw the Jackets face South Florida. The contest was fairly even in the first half, with a late goal by freshman attacker Rachel Hare putting Tech ahead 7-6 after 30 minutes.
After USF tied it in the first minute of the second half, the Jackets scored nine unanswered goals—three by Hare, and two each by Sirow and freshman attacker Danielle De Lessio—to pull ahead 16-7, and they won by a final of 16-8.
Hare led the team with six points on the day from five goals and an assist. Sirow had three goals and an assist, and the team captains—Schaefer and fellow junior midfielder Kaitlyn Kreager—each contributed three points.
The Saturday afternoon game against Alabama saw Tech come out on top against its region foe. Hare had four goals and two assists, and Sirow and senior midfielder Lauren Baugh added three goals apiece. Freshman goalie Katie Smith made 10 saves as Tech picked up a 17-12 victory, moving to 2-1 in games against league opponents.
It was a promising start overall for the Jackets, who will remain at home for three games this weekend, including battles with SWLL members Florida State and Vanderbilt.
“We need to fix some things up, obviously, but…as long as we keep working together, the goals will come,” Sirow said.