Men’s lacrosse falls to No. 6 seed Loyola in the NCAA Tournament

The Greyhounds move on to next round as the Cavaliers’ comeback proved to be too little, too late

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Virginia sophomore midfielder Dox Aitken scored four fourth quarter goals to bring his season total to 39.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After a strong season that saw it return to the postseason for the first time since 2015 and reach the 12-win mark for the first time since 2012, the Virginia men’s lacrosse team could not continue its momentum Saturday in the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia (12-6) fell to Loyola (13-3) 14-12, despite nearly mounting a fourth quarter comeback.

The game was delayed by inclement weather for over two hours, pushing the faceoff time back to 9:30 p.m. Virginia jumped out to its first and only lead of the game, 2-1, with goals from freshmen attackmen Ian Laviano and Regan Quinn.

Despite this strong start, the rest of the half was all Greyhounds. Loyola responded to Virginia’s slim one-goal lead with a 9-1 run that left the Cavaliers trying to climb out of a deep deficit for the remainder of the game.

“Loyola played at a higher level than we did, especially in the first half,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “They scored goals in transition, which we knew they could and it was a bit like looking in a mirror. Scoring in transition is something we do often to our opponents.”

While Virginia responded with two goals to wrap up the first half, Loyola still had a commanding 10-5 lead going into the third frame.

The Greyhounds started the third quarter right where they left off, extending their lead to 13-6 going into the final frame and leaving things all but out of reach for Virginia.

But just like in their first contest against Loyola, the Cavaliers were not finished. The first game between Virginia and Loyola saw the Cavaliers come back from down five goals with a 7-0 run.

However, this time their run — though impressive — was not enough. Virginia went on a furious 6-1 fourth quarter run to cut the deficit to two goals with 14.6 seconds remaining. Time expired on the ensuing faceoff.

Star sophomore midfielder Dox Aitken, the hero of Virginia’s first clash against Loyola, led the charge, after being held wnithout points for the first three quarters. Aitken scored four fourth quarter goals to bring his season total to 39. His 51 points on the season are the most in a single season by a Virginia midfielder.

But Aitken’s heroic efforts were not enough, and Virginia was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament after a strong performance by Loyola at home.

Despite this tough loss, the Cavaliers have a lot to be proud about this season. A return to the ACC Tournament, 12 victories and an NCAA Tournament berth are all important steps in the revitalization of Virginia’s legendary lacrosse program.

Virginia’s two biggest losses are senior defenseman Scott Hooper and senior attackman Mike D’Amario, who finished with over 100 points in his career.

Despite this, the future looks very bright for Virginia, with the Cavaliers returning four of their top five leaders in points. Sophomore attackman Michael Kraus, who finished with 83 points — the second-most points all-time in a single season by a Cavalier — will lead the charge, along with Aitken, Laviano and freshman midfielder Matt Moore.

Next season should showcase an even better Virginia team — one ready to challenge in the postseason.

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