Undefeated men’s lacrosse raises the bar again

Photo courtesy of Jim O’Connell

The Tech Lacrosse team ended their 2015 season in an uncertain position. They had certainly always been a formidable player in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse

But a season that included no regular-season losses, wins against numerous top-20 teams and a tournament run that could only be stopped by MCLA powerhouse and eventual runner-up Colorado? This was a level of success that the Jackets had never seen before.

As such, the big question coming into 2016 was this: was it a fluke? After the Friday of Feb. 19, the words “fluke” and “Georgia Tech” were never used together again. An 18-5 dismantling of the Boston College Eagles, a rematch of a narrow overtime victory in 2015, assuaged all doubts about the Ramblin’ Wreck.

Seven days later, before a frenzied Tech crowd, the Jackets took on the team responsible for one of their two 2015 losses: the Virginia Tech Hokies. From the first goal to the final buzzer, the Jackets led their rivals from Blacksburg and gave the MCLA conclusive evidence that they were indeed a team to be feared. That is a theme the Jackets have oft repeated over the course of a wildly successful season, albeit one that has flown under the radar.

In the weeks since then, nothing has changed. Seven more wins have brought their record to 11-0 on the season, their second regular season in a row without a loss.

They have outscored opponents 187 to 50. Seven players boast double-digit goal counts on their stat sheets. They have won 70 percent of their faceoffs. These are not the numbers of a fluke but rather those of a talented, complete and hard-working team.

The Ramblin’ Wreck closed out their regular season on April 9 with a home match-up against the then-undefeated Georgia Bulldogs. Tech came into the game with a three-game win streak against their rivals from Athens, yet there was still reason to worry. The Dawgs were the only other undefeated team in the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference, boasting an impressive 146 goals-for to 67 goals-against.

But all fears were assuaged when senior Ben Mertz gave the Jackets an early lead, scoring his first of three goals on the day. Midfielder Holland Frost added four goals in the first half while attackman Timmy Peterson put up three, bringing the halftime score to 11-5 in Tech’s favor. The Jackets came out of the day with a 19-8 victory and indisputable proof of their dominance.

Tech’s hard-hitting offense turned in a performance good for over 22 percent of all goals scored against UGA in their 14 games this season. This number is not an anomaly either; the Wreck averages almost 17 points a game.

The Jackets will look to continue this trend of offensive domination throughout the rest of April, where they will vie for an SELC championship. The win against UGA secured them a top seed in the tournament. The team is second only to Chapman nationally.