Lacrosse bodies Bulldogs in win

Photo by Knox Lingenfelter Student Publications

On a sun-drenched afternoon at Roe Stamps Field, the Jackets men’s lacrosse team ended their regular season on a triumphant note, securing a hard-fought 13-11 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. This match wasn’t just any game; it was a confluence of celebrations — Senior Day, Founders Day and a pivotal moment marking 100 years of modern lacrosse in Georgia, established by Dr. JB Crenshaw at Tech.

In a remarkable confluence of historic milestones, Ken Lovic, the head coach of the Tech Lacrosse Program, achieved his 300th career win, a momentous occasion that coincided with Founders Day. Lovic, at the helm since 1997, has been a cornerstone of the Tech lacrosse program, guiding it through decades of competition, growth and success. 

The stakes were high, with the winner securing second place in the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) North and the privilege of hosting a quarter-final game, while the loser would be faced with playing at the University of Florida. The atmosphere was electric, with fans packed around the field and the presence of the pep band and the iconic Ramblin’ Wreck elevating the energy to new heights.

The game unfolded with both teams taking cautious strides, but it was Tech that found the net first. Junior midfielder Asher Wagnon broke the deadlock, showcasing his agility and skill to dodge and score, setting the tone for the Jackets. The early lead was fortified by precise teamwork, as junior attacker Brooks Baro connected with fellow junior attacker Pierce Quarles and then sophomore attacker Joseph Rose in quick succession, displaying the Jackets’ fluid offensive play. Sophomore midfielder Matt Seifert and freshman midfielder Andrew Belli’s contributions rounded off a dominant first quarter for the Jackets, giving them a comfortable four-goal lead.

The Bulldogs, true to the spirit of a rivalry game, showed resilience. They capitalized on an extra-man opportunity early in the second quarter, but Quarles was quick to respond. The back-and-forth continued, with the Bulldogs narrowing the gap to 7-4 by halftime, setting the stage for a tense second half.

The physicality of the game was another noteworthy element, with both teams displaying a level of intensity typical of a game against Georgia.

The third quarter saw Georgia mount a comeback, utilizing an extra-man opportunity to score swiftly and add two more to their tally, taking a lead for the first time. Baro’s solo effort was the only respite for the Jackets in a quarter dominated by the Bulldogs.

Senior goalkeeper Peter Zagrobelny’s ability to deny the Bulldogs, particularly during their surge in the third quarter, kept the Jackets within striking distance and provided the team with the confidence needed to mount their final push for victory.

Facing adversity, Tech’s defense, led by junior defender Hudson Higgins, sophomore defender George Corbin, and senior short-stick defensive midfielder Carrington Kelsey, held firm in the final quarter, turning away Bulldog advances with determination. Zagrobelny’s outstanding performance, including five crucial saves in the last quarter, was pivotal. Rose’s knack for being in the right place at the right time brought the Jackets within striking distance before the freshman sensation Belli stepped up, scoring twice in quick succession, showcasing the depth and future promise of the Jackets’ squad.

The climax came with a spectacular sequence that saw sophomore midfielder/face-offer Ben Skopicki win a crucial faceoff, leading to Baro’s decisive shot that extended the Jackets’ lead. Despite a late goal by the Bulldogs, freshman midfielder DJ Louis and Wagnon combined to seal the victory for Tech, sending the fans and team into jubilation.

The effectiveness of Tech’s extra-man unit, particularly in the crucial stages of the game, was crucial for the Jackets’ victory. The ability to convert these opportunities into goals was a testament to the team’s cohesion and the strategic play designs drawn up by the coaching staff.

The victory was not just a win but a testament to the seniors’ legacy — goalie Seb Cook, short-stick defensive midfielder Kelsey, defender Curran Myers, short-stick defensive midfielder JoJo Banks and short-stick defensive midfielder Andrew Kowblansky and Wagnon — who concluded their final regular season with a memorable victory over the Bulldogs. 

As the team prepares to host the Auburn Tigers in the SELC Tournament quarter-final, they carry forward not just the hopes for a championship but the rich history and tradition of lacrosse at Tech. 

They will face plenty of competition in their playoff bracket as they look to defend their 2023 SELC championship. The team earned their title by beating South Carolina 10-7 in last year’s championship and will look to parlay a  SELC win into avenging their loss in last year’s quarterfinals.