At this point in the day, we moved from the regular pools on the fields to the bracket play of the ACC South Championship. Due to the cancellation of the ACCs in late January, the organizers of the Tally Classic decided to fill what they consider to be a void by taking over as best they can, the role of the ACC championship.
In the first round of ACC Championship bracket play Virginia Night Train faced off against Wake Forest Womb in what turned into a blowout. On the other side of the bracket, Georgia Tech Tribe and the Clemson Joint Chiefs engaged in what turned out to be anything but a blowout on either side. Clemson eventually triumphed by a score of 12-11.
On the first point, Clemson showed that it was not going to be shy about its strategy. On the third throw freshman James Cox hit senior Keenan Watson deep for a goal. Clemson captain Ben Slade tried to warn us about how much of a factor Watson would be, but nothing could have prepared us for Watson’s effectiveness all day long. In the game against Georgia Tech alone, Watson caught at least five goals and threw at least two to go along with several blocks.
“Keenan is perhaps the smoothest athletes I’ve ever seen,” Clemson communications director Miller Yoho said. “Every part of his game is well rounded. he adds a flare to our team that helps us capitalize against teams that we are evenly matched with.”
However, it wasn’t all Clemson all the time, Georgia Tech’s talent, rife with club experience, managed to give the Joint Chiefs plenty of trouble throughout the game. Junior Nick Lance, junior Michael Spear and senior Hogan McHugh led their team through thick and thin over the course of the game but that wasn’t enough to leave Lance satisfied.
“It just sucks,” Lance said of the double-game point loss. “They played well but we couldn’t execute and our D couldn’t score.”
For the first nine points it looked as if the two teams planned on finishing their game in record time as neither team came close to turning it and deep shots were flying from all over the field. Finally, at G.T. 4/Clemson 5 the Joint Chiefs got the first break of the game and stretched their lead to 6-4.
However, that two goal lead wouldn’t last long as a fired up Lance roasted the Clemson zone, nearly all on his own, before throwing a hammer score on the next point. GT then took advantage of a Clemson drop, earning the break back and tying the score again. Clemson would then take half to leave the two teams perfectly on serve.
We got this point wrong (should read 9-9) on Twitter and threw ourselves off for the rest of the game but the teams would trade breaks and scores until tied at 9s. At which point Clemson turned the disc and Tribe looked to get not only a crucial break but also crucial momentum. However, one man would have none of that. Watson snagged a layout D from between his mark’s hands and threw a goal merely seconds later to keep Clemson on top.
Only three scores later the observers determined that the hard cap was on and, since the score was tied at 11-11, it was double game point with Clemson receiving. In retrospect, it’s possible that everyone should have seen what came next. However, no one did, Clemson captain Ben Slade reared back on his first throw and launched a huge backhand to a streaking Watson who brought down the game winning goal and moved Clemson onto the finals to face Virginia.
A rematch from a game earlier in the day, that also ended on double game point but in Virginia’s favor, was set up and the Joint Chiefs were high as kites.