SALT LAKE CITY – Cal sophomore Brendan Cook beat his man from behind the cage and deposited the game-winning goal into the Georgia Tech net with 2:02 left in overtime, sending the Golden Bears to the national championship game with a 13-12 victory.
California (17-0) will face the winner of the Chapman-South Carolina game on Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Regional Athletic Complex.
The Golden Bears took an early 3-1 lead to start the game and held that edge at the first intermission, but Georgia Tech (18-2) was ready for the second quarter. The Ramblin’ Wreck outscored the Bears, 4-1, with Devin Raun’s second goal of the game coming with 39 seconds left in the half to send the Jackets into the break with a 5-4 cushion.
Matt Keaney opened the second half with his second goal of the game to tie the score at five apiece before close defender Nate DeGroat gave the Bears the lead back, 6-5. It was a short-lived edge.
Tech exploded for four straight goals, two by Tim Peterson along with a goal and a dime from Conrad McEvoy in the run, giving the Yellow Jackets a 9-6 lead with 4:40 left in the third quarter. Miles Rosberg pulled one back for Cal before the end of the frame, leaving the top seed with a two-goal deficit and 15 minutes to play.
The game of runs continued, and this time it was the Bears' turn. In the span of 7:35, Cal tallied four unanswered goals to regain the lead, 11-9. Pistotnik posted a natural hat trick during the run.
Georgia Tech countered with three straight over a four minute span, with Raun netting two more in the run that had the Jackets up, 12-11, with 3:11 remaining.
Cook, giving a preview of what would end the game, tied the game off a dish from Keany with just 36 seconds left. Then came overtime.
Cook, Keany and Pistotnik finished with three goals and an assist each for the Bears while Nick Beattie had 10 saves.
Raun finished with four goals and an assist to lead Georgia Tech while Peterson added a hat trick. Gino Pagliaro had nine stops in cage.