SALT LAKE CITY – South Carolina overwhelmed Chapman in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Panthers, 4-1, to capture a 15-12 victory in the second Division I semifinal of the 2019 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour.
The Gamecocks (20-2) earn a ticket to Saturday’s championship game against California at 2 p.m. MDT at the Salt Lake City Regional Athletic Complex. South Carolina becomes the first SELC team to play for a championship.
The two teams played a remarkably even game for three quarters. Chapman (17-3) took an early 3-1 lead, but that gap was narrowed to 3-2 by the end of the first on a Griffin Giles score with 47 ticks left.
Both squads battled back-and-forth in the second, resulting in a six-all tie at the halftime break.
South Carolina made a bid to pull away from the Panthers at the start of the third quarter, rattling off four straight markers, capped by a Ryan Vallen tally in the opening 4:21 of the third stanza to give the Gamecocks a 10-6 lead.
Still trailing 11-7, Garrett Stemmler and Wiley Bonham each buried a pair of goals as Chapman scrambled back to tie the contest at 11s heading into the fourth.
In a push reminiscent of the third quarter, South Carolina broke down the Chapman defense at the onset of the fourth. Sam Weis scored the first two goals, the opening score off a dish from Liam O’Donnell. Griffin Bailey buried a bomb with 7:23 remaining to push the lead to 14-11.
Bonham completed his hat trick with 3:28 remaining in the contest, but Giles did the same a minute later to cap the scoring.
Weis had a big day with five goals and an assist while Giles added an assist to his trick. Colin Hains made eight saves for the win.
Stemmler had three goals and two assists to lead Chapman while Ethan Smith had two goals and a helper. Dan Aguilar turned away nine shots.