South Carolina kept the powerful offense of undefeated top-seed California in check, holding the Bears to under 10 goals for the first time all season, en route to winning the Division I title at the 2019 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour at the Salt Lake City Regional Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon.
The championship was not only the first in Gamecocks’ (21-2) history, but South Carolina becomes the first program from the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) to raise MCLA hardware.
Cal’s dynamic duo of Brendan Cook and Jake Pistotnik gave the Golden Bears (17-1) a 2-1 lead after the first quarter and the tandem scored again in the second frame. Griffin Giles, Gordon Palmer and Sam Weis countered for South Carolina as the game went into halftime tied at four.
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With a ferocious run over a five-minute period at the beginning of the third quarter, South Carolina put Cal on its heels. Addy Lutes started the run on an unassisted marker at the 13:41 mark of the third and then capped it off four goals later with 8:56 remaining the half to give the Gamecocks a 9-4 lead.
Jake Lombardo responded by putting the Bears on his back, scoring three straight goals to end the quarter – two on assisted by Michael Bellas – that trimmed the margin to 10-7 heading into the fourth.
Giles converted his hat trick midway through the fourth to push the lead to 11-7 before Lombardo converted his fourth straight to narrow the gap to 11-8. The Bears would get no closer.
Colin Hains had 14 saves for South Carolina and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Championship game. Giles finished with four goals while Weis added two goals and an assist.
Lombardo’s five points (4g, 1a) led the Bears while Cook chipped in with two goals and three helpers. Nick Beattie had 13 saves in the losing effort.