Jackets Swarm Tigers to Punch Ticket To National Championship Game
The Georgia Tech Men's Lacrosse Team faced off against the Clemson Tigers in the semi-finals of the MCLA National Tournament Powered by New Balance on Thursday. The game was a rematch of a game played in February that resulted in a 15-8 loss for the Jackets. The Jackets were making their fifth semi-final appearance (including the 2021 Invitational), while the Tigers were making their first appearance and both teams were vying for their first appearance in the title game.
The Jackets started hot when Devin Raun dodged in early offense to score on the first shot of the game. Just over a minute later freshmen Asher Wagnon fed classmate Nick Eliacin for an extra man goal on the crease. Less than another minute later, Wagnon dodged to the middle of the field, weaving past the sliding defender and found the back of the net giving the Jackets a three goal lead through the first three minutes of the game. Wagnon would add another goal sandwiched between two Clemson goals to give the Jackets a 4-2 lead after the first quarter.
The Yellow Jacket defense was well connected and aggressive turning away numerous Clemson dodgers and allowing the Jackets to overcome a significant possession disadvantage. The Jackets faced a two minute non-releasable penalty early in the quarter, but rather than giving up a goal, the Jackets caused a turnover by the Tigers and completed the clear. Max Lucas got the ball and ran by the pressing Clemson defense and scored the man down goal. Wagnon would weave to the middle of the field again for his third goal of the game three minutes later increasing the lead to 6-2. The Tigers would not let up and answered with two goals of their own to make the halftime score 6-4 in favor of the Jackets.
Just like the first half, Devin Raun scored in early offense to open the scoring in the second half. Clemson would answer shortly thereafter. The Jackets extra man offense would score again when Brooks Baro found Nick Eliacin inside for a jumping finish. A few minutes later Brooks Baro caused a turnover in the ride and won a hotly contested groundball before finding a cutting Wagnon who fired a shot past the goaltender to put the Jackets up four goals. The Tigers were able to solve the swarming team defense from the Jackets a get two goals back late in the quarter.
Brooks Baro would score early in the fourth quarter dodging from the left wing. The Tigers responded by scoring two goals within a minute to get within one goal. Nick Witten would respond by taking advantage of a Clemson offensive midfielder being caught on defense and torqued his way to the middle to score a left handed goal. Nick Eliacin would score a few minutes later dodging from the right wing and rifling a shot past the Tiger goaltender.
The final six minutes of the game were highlighted by excellent team defense from the Jackets as they turned away Clemson dodgers with quick slides and recoveries. The Tigers were able to break through once, but most of the good shots the Tigers could generate were turned away by goalie Gino Pagliaro who finished with 17 saves. The Tigers committed a penalty late in the game during a Tech clear and the Jackets were able to use the whole shot clock before shooting and starting the extra man period. The Jackets used space to their advantage and were able to play keep away from the Tigers for the rest of the game as the clock expired while the ball was on the Jackets' offensive end giving the Jackets their first national semi-final win by a final score of 12-10.