While Duke attackman T.J. Durnan was carrying the hopes of the Blue Devils, the stars of the Virginia men's lacrosse team were content to share the wealth.
Durnan scored four goals, twice as many as any other player, but the No. 2 Cavaliers (8-1, 3-0 ACC) came away with a 12-7 victory over the No. 5 Blue Devils (8-3, 2-1) Saturday night at Klöckner Stadium to clinch the ACC regular season championship.
"We really were searching for reasons to get excited about this game," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "I don't think we had a lot at stake, because the real winning starts next week. This was playing for its own sake, and I was really proud that we came out, took control of the game, and battled the whole time."
Senior midfielder Jay Jalbert and sophomore attackman Conor Gill scored two goals each to continue their excellent season, but the Cavaliers also received help from some unexpected sources. Junior Hanley Holcomb and freshman A.J. Shannon entered the game having tallied only 18 points between them but surprised the Devils by scoring two goals each.
"We try to be balanced every time we come out," Holcomb said. "Going into the game, we had pretty good confidence in our attack beating their defensemen. Once we got into the game, Jay and I and a bunch of middies just realized that we thought we had the upper hand on their midfield as well."
With the score tied at two midway through the second quarter, junior midfielder David Jenkins scored to open a 5-0 run for the Cavaliers. Jalbert's behind-the-back goal two minutes before halftime highlighted the outburst.
"The last time I tried a behind-the-back shot was probably my second year," Jalbert said. "I don't think I'd ever scored on one before."
The Cavs played all but eight minutes without senior defenseman Court Weisleder, who went out with a shoulder injury in the first quarter.
"It's not good when one of your star players gets hurt, but we're really deep on defense," senior defenseman Ryan Curtis said. "We have six or seven guys that could all play for any team in the country. Although you're not happy about it, it's not something we're too worried about."
Durnan was quick to praise the opportunistic efforts of the Cavalier squad.
"You can't make mistakes against a team like this, because they'll easily capitalize, because of the skill level that we play at," Durnan said."We got out-groundballed, we got out-hustled, and we just didn't play as hard as we usually do and as we should."