South Carolina started off their lacrosse season with a brand new head coach in Peter Candela. After a 2019 championship run, Gamecocks Head Coach 2015 JD Harkey, stepped down after five seasons at the helm to start a new job as well as coach Gertsell Academy in Maryland. Candela, a native of Blythewood, SC, played at Limestone (NCAA DII) before transferring to South Carolina for his final season. He became an assistant for the Gamecocks in 2018 immediately following his graduation.
The Gamecocks lost their 2021-2022 home opener against Boston College, but came back the next weekend to beat Virginia Tech, which would end up being the Hokies only loss of the regular season. This magic wouldn’t last long as the Gamecocks lost to Liberty the following day. South Carolina then travelled all the way to Phoenix beating Chapman and Grand Canyon during the trip.
After a two-week break, they lost a close one to SELC opponent, Georgia Tech, however it would be their last loss of the season. In their final home games, they beat Cal Poly by six, FSU by five, and Georgia by six, and West Virginia by 14. Down in Tuscaloosa the following week, they beat Alabama and Vanderbilt by a combined score of 40-4. In the final game of the regular season, they faced off against the school’s biggest rival, Clemson, at Historic Riggs Field. The Gamecocks won in overtime in what was one of the best games of the season.
Due to the early season loss against Georgia Tech, the Gamecocks did not receive a bye in the SELC playoffs, however they made up for it by beating Auburn 23-7, Florida 12-6. South Carolina would get their revenge against Georgia Tech to win their second straight SELC Championship. They ended up drawing the No.3 seed in the National Tournament. They beat Arizona 18-10 in the first round, and then got revenge on Liberty from earlier in the season, beating them 11-9. In the Final Four, they defeated 2021 Invitational Champions, BYU, 11-9 to earn a rematch against Georgia Tech in the Finals.
After a hot 4-0 start to kick off the first quarter, Georgia Tech slowly closed the lead, but in the end, the Gamecocks held off the Yellow Jackets to claim their second straight MCLA Championship. Senior attackman, Sam Weis, was named the tournament MVP finishing the day with three goals and two assists in the championship game. Weis also finished the season with 62 goals along with 25 assists and was the team’s leading scorer.
Connor Griffin (31G, 18A) was the Gamecocks leading scorer at midfield this season and was named to the All-Tournament Team along with SSDM Mark Cook (44GB), FO Will Frith (160GB, 68%), and defenseman Theodore Russell (42GB, 3G). Defenseman Chris Greenberg (1st SELC), attackman Johnny Stanton (2nd SELC), midfielder Gunnar Wilson (2nd SELC), attackman Pat Reilly (3rd SELC), LSM Thatcher Knox (3rd SELC), and SSDM Will Lohoff-Gaida (3rd SELC), were all contributing factors to the Gamecocks championship run this season.
The South Carolina lacrosse program has become a major powerhouse in MCLA lacrosse and only time will tell how long this dynasty will last, but for now let’s enjoy this Gamecock dominance.