Johns Creek, GA I Box Score
Written By: Junior midfielder Patrick Greenwood (Marshall; Vienna, VA)
Sunday’s SELC Championship matched up two undefeated top 10 teams in the MCLA. Georgia Tech came into the game with a victory over NC State on Friday 9-5 and a tough victory over Liberty 9-7 on Saturday. The Virginia Tech Hokies did not struggle too much in the first two rounds of the SELC Tournament and were able to beat Florida by a score of 9-1 and Georgia 13-3.
Coming into Sunday’s matchup, the Hokies were ranked #9 in the MCLA National poll with a record of 15-0 while Georgia Tech was ranked #6 in the MCLA poll with a record of 16-0. The matchup was also a rematch of last year’s first round game of the SELC Tournament, where the Yellow Jackets pushed Virginia Tech right to the brink of elimination before the Hokies were able to escape with a 9-7 win.
There was certainly a lot on the line in Sunday’s game besides just an SELC Championship; the winner would also have a guaranteed ticket to the MCLA National Tournament in Irvine, California, and would likely land a top-8 seed. The loser would have to anxiously wait for Selection Sunday to see whether they are in the field as an at-large or not.
Both teams came out in the first quarter with strong defensive stops and limited scoring opportunities. Whenever the Hokies needed an offensive spark over the weekend it came from sophomore midfielder Conrad Unterkofler (Chantilly; Chantilly, VA). With both offenses stalled, Unterkofler jumped in front of a Georgia Tech pass and took it the length of the field to score and put the Hokies up 1-0.
Georgia Tech answered with a nice skip pass up top and a nifty shot by midfielder Ben Mertz. Sophomore midfielder Tim Nordbrook (Loyola Blakefield; Phoenix, MD) answered right back for the Hokies with a rip from outside off of a nice assist by freshman midfielder Ian Quinn (McDonogh; Baltimore, MD). The Hokies ended the first quarter with a 2-1 lead.
Georgia Tech started the second quarter with a man advantage but the Hokies man-down defense held strong and got a big save from sophomore captain and goalie Bryan Cooper (La Costa Canyon; Encinitas, CA) to weather the storm. The Hokies answered with a great methodical possession controlling the ball and continually peppering shots at Georgia Tech’s goalie Matthew Sommerfeldt.
The Hokies were able to finally break down the Jackets’ defense as Conrad Unterkofler rolled back to his left to bounce one top shelf to put the Hokies up 3-1.
Georgia Tech’s Holland Frost then did his best Dwight Howard impression backing down the Virginia Tech defense and ripping a shot past Cooper to pull the Jackets within one goal at 3-2.
Junior long-stick midfielder Thomas Westfall (Nansemond Suffolk Academy; Suffolk, VA) continued his great wing play snagging a groundball and hitting senior captain and attackman Joe Rittenhouse (Wilmington Charter; Wilmington, DE) on the crease for an easy dip and dunk to put the Hokies up 4-2. The defenses were strong for the remainder of the half and the Hokies led 4-2 after the first 30 minutes.
With a really tight game at the half, both teams knew a fast start to the third quarter was essential. Thomas Westfall again was able to vacuum up the first groundball of the second half and the Hokies were ready to capitalize. Sophomore midfielder Ryan Palompo (Edison; Alexandria, VA) took advantage of a short-stick matchup on an invert from behind the cage and ripped one past Sommerfeldt to put the Hokies up 5-2.
The Jackets then took advantage of a quick whistle on a Hokies turnover as Freshman attackman Adrian Franzone was able to finish on the fast break. The Jackets kept the momentum going as Chris Obrien hit Franzone on the crease for a goal to make it 5-4.
From this moment, the Hokies turned it on and gradually took over the game with great defense and ball control. Conrad Unterkofler was again the catalyst with a great dish to sophomore attackman Kyle Mancini (James Madison; Vienna, VA) who ripped a jump shot top-left by Sommerfeldt to make it 6-4.
Sophomore midfielder Jackson Sole (Lower Cape May Regional; Cape May, NJ) then sparked the Hokies with a nice takeaway during a faceoff scrum and drew a slashing penalty. With the ball loose in front of the cage, the Jackets were unable to scoop it up and freshman face-off man Bogdan Dragacevac (Bishop O’Connell; Rockville, MD) picked up the loose ball and put it in the back of the net to put the Hokies up 7-4.
Dragacevac definitely deserved the goal after a valiant effort at the faceoff X going 12-17 on the day.
After this goal, the Hokies had command of the game, as their 6-on-6 defense had been solid all tournament. A couple more stops and a few empty net goals and the Hokies were once again rushing the field to celebrate a 10-4 victory.
Goalie Matthew Sommerfeldt was very strong in cage for the Jackets, keeping them in reach for most of the game with 10 saves. Adrian Franzone led the Georgia Tech offense with 2 goals and 1 assist.
Conrad Unterkofler led the way for the Hokies offense tallying a hat-trick to go along with two assists. Bryan Cooper was a wall in cage making 11 saves in the victory. Conrad’s performance earned him Offensive MVP of the tournament while Cooper took home the Defensive MVP of the tournament for the second straight season.
The Hokies now have a week to recover and focus on schoolwork before the MCLA National Tournament on May 11. The Hokies are happy with the 16-0 regular season, but have much bigger goals ahead of them in California.