No. 11 men’s lacrosse downs Lehigh in 2019 home opener

Cavaliers use strong second half to edge Mountain Hawks in first ever meeting

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Junior attackman Michael Kraus led Virginia with an explosive four-goal performance.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After dropping the season opener, the No. 11 Virginia men’s lacrosse team earned its first win of the season with an 11-8 victory over Lehigh Friday at Klöckner Stadium.

The Cavaliers (1-1, 0-0 ACC) took an early lead with a pair of goals from sophomore midfielder Matt Moore and freshman midfielder Jeff Conner. Moore got things started with a goal after just 3:43 — his fourth of the season. Then, after a few chaotic moments in front of the Lehigh net, Conner picked up a ground ball and scored Virginia’s second. 

Just as the Cavaliers were gaining momentum, however, Lehigh (1-2, 0-0 PL) stormed into the lead with a 5-0 run spanning the first and second quarters. The Mountain Hawks’ balanced offense got goals from five different players during their run.

Before Lehigh could extend its lead, Virginia sophomore attackman Ian Laviano put an end to the visitor’s run, notching his second goal of the season. The two teams then traded scores in the last five minutes of the half with the Mountain Hawks holding onto a 6-4 lead going into halftime. 

While the Cavaliers led early, Lehigh controlled the game for most of the first half. The Mountain Hawks outshot Virginia 24-16 and won eight of the 12 faceoffs. Seven saves from sophomore goalkeeper Alex Rode however helped the Cavaliers limit the deficit to two. 

The Cavaliers came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, scoring four unanswered goals to quickly regain the lead 8-6. Junior attackman Michael Kraus scored a pair of goals in the third quarter to lead the Virginia charge while Laviano capped off the run with a fast break goal. 

Virginia and Lehigh went back and forth late in the fourth quarter, but the Cavaliers held on for the win as junior midfielder Dox Aitken scored the game’s last goal to make it 11-8 in Virginia’s favor. 

Compared to the first half, Virginia fared far better statistically in the second. The Cavaliers produced 18 shots to Lehigh’s nine. They also won the battle for ground balls 22-17 and didn’t allow Lehigh to score on any of the Mountain Hawks’ extra-man opportunities.

Kraus led Virginia with an explosive, four-goal performance, while Laviano and Aitken added two apiece with the latter also contributing a pair of assists. 

“We were a little bit hesitant in the first half with their zone [defense] and trying to figure it out,” Kraus said. “Then, a few goals started dropping, and we just got comfortable in the second half. We were able to make those one-more passes, those extra passes and get guys wide open.”

Despite the loss, the Mountain Hawks can take away several positives as they pushed Virginia to its limit while nursing several injuries. 

“I am so impressed with what Kevin Cassese has done with the Lehigh program during his 12-year tenure there,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “Despite being down several key players, he comes down here to Charlottesville, Virginia and goes toe-to-toe with us and puts us on the ropes.”

Virginia will next face High Point at Klöckner Stadium Monday for the team’s second home game of the season. Face-off is set for 4 p.m.

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