Men's Lacrosse: Hokies Steamroll their way to thier second SELC crown
In what can only be described as one of the most dominating conference championship run in years and and one the best team performances ever in tournament history, Virginia Tech has clinched their second South Eastern Lacrosse Conference Championship since their first and probably most dramatic conference crown in 2005 when they beat their conference nemesis Florida State. In 2005 the Hokies came back from a 5 goal deficit uncorking the most improbable fourth quarter come back in tournament history to steal the win by one goal. 2012 was the complete opposite.
Tech headed into this tournament on a team sore note after losing to WVU. We won't go there suffice to say they should have manhandled the Mountaineers but didn't. The question after that game was, would that loss to keep them from an at-large bid should they fall short of the conference crown? If history is any indicator, this question is fair game. The only way to write your own ticket to the big dance is win your conference, records and losses be damned.
The Hokies had played all the teams in Tech's path to the crown before and none could be described as blowouts. Tech held on to beat USC by one in the regular season but rolled them up by 6 in the tournament never trailing in that game. In what could be described as the biggest upset of the tournament Tennessee stunned #17 Clemson 12-9 to move on to the second round and VT VT beat UT 12-8 in the regular season but UT seemed to have found new life winning seven of their last eight games before the match up with the Hokies. Which Tech team would show up against the Vols, it was anyone's guess but based on a solid beat down of USC, my money was on Tech.
The Hokies came out a little stiff getting shut out in the first quarter but the defense kept them competitive giving up only one goal in the first frame. After that, Katie bar the door, the Hokies started clicking and it was over that fast as the Hokies hung 8 unanswered goals through the next two quarters entering the fourth quarter up 8-1 eventually topping out at 12-2.
The Hokies were "officially" on fire, while FSU struggled in the second round after blowing out Alabama 22-9 the quarter finals. UGA has one of if not the best defense in the conference this year but FSU edged UGA is a tight game 10-9 leaving the show down SELC fans have come to know all too well. FSU vs VT for all the marbles.
The Hokies played FSU in Tallahassee this year for the first time ever I think and the results were anything but predictable. The Hokies have typically struggled with the Seminoles but this year they DEMOLISHED #9 FSU in their own back yard 18-6. FSU is a perennial top 10 and a regular at the conference championship game, difference is the Seminoles tended to win it most years they play for it unlike Tech who have an unbelievable 90 plus percent success rate at making the championship game but have only one trophy to show for it...until now.
The SELC championship games are normally close and highly contested, usually. As with USC and UT, the Hokies opened up a Costco size can of Whupass and took it straight to the hapless Seminoles and severed notice that the SELC championship has and will run though Blaxburg. The Hokies staked themselves a 5-0 lead before FSU could gather themselves. In the second quarter the teams battled to 2 all tie with the Hokies taking a 7-2 lead into the club house at the turn. The start of the second half was once again "ALL Hokies, ALL the time" as they picked up where they started, beating FSU all the way down to the mat with a 4-0 run in the third. The Hokies could smell the barn but there was one quarter left to play.
The Hokies began the final quarter with an a 9 goal advantage, 11-2. 15 minutes to glory and a birth in the national championships. The Seminoles came out with a purpose but, as impressive as 6 goals in a single quarter is, it wasn't nearly enough to get them to within striking distance of the Hokies. When all was said and done, the Hokies added four goals of their own to advance the trophy hoisting ceremony with a final score of 15-8.
There are quite a few "Game Balls" to mention not the least of which is team Captain Kevin Hayden (SR Atk) in his final conference game as a senior scored a whopping game leading 5 goals to go with his one assist. Other notables are Matt Giannelli and Tom Dewar each with 3 goals apiece. One big FAT game ball to the Hokie defense who rose to the occasion and and shut down some pretty good offensive teams allowing an average of 5 goals/game in tournament play. A shout out especially to G Chris Patterson who posted a 77% save rate (10s/3g). That's championship tending and defense. The Hokies brought the lumber when they needed to making the victory that much more sweet. Congratulations to the entire Hokie Men's Lacrosse Team and last but certainly not least to the man who has guided this Hokie Lacrosse team for 35 years and counting, Coach Joel Nachlas.
But never forget the true test of a champion is yet to be past by this group of Hokies. You know it, say it with me...Alumni Game. That's right, they're back and getting ready to provide the youngsters a little more taste of defeat before wandering off to the nation championships. Doom approacheth (or fat old guys with little to no chance, doom sounded better). This Saturday around 2pm we'll gird up for what should be a beat down of epic proportions at the hands of the Hokie tottlers. So bring a beverage enjoy some sun and a little lacrosse. Its gonna be a great game because I can predict at least one thing without hesitation, HOKIES WIN! GOOOOOO HOKIES!
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