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Virginia lacrosse picks up first home win

No. 10 Cavaliers defeat Penn 15-10 Sunday afternoon

<p>Freshman midfielder Ryan Conrad, the No. 1 recruit in his class, scored two goals and recorded an assist Sunday. He now has at least one goal in all four games for Virginia.</p>

Freshman midfielder Ryan Conrad, the No. 1 recruit in his class, scored two goals and recorded an assist Sunday. He now has at least one goal in all four games for Virginia.

It was a beautiful, 65 degree afternoon in Charlottesville, and an even more beautiful afternoon for the No. 10 Virginia lacrosse team, who earned their first win at Klöckner Stadium Sunday. The Cavaliers (2-2) had an impressive showing against Penn for the Quakers’ second contest of the season.

The game was back and forth throughout the first period, with senior attackman James Pannell starting off the scoring at 11:55. Freshman midfielder Ryan Conrad scored a goal with 6:23 minutes left in the first period to put Virginia up 2-0. Penn (1-1) answered the Virginia scoring run with their own 2-0 run to tie the game up at 4:03.

Pannell added his second goal of the afternoon to put Virginia up 3-2 with just 22 seconds left in the period, but the Quakers answered by tying up the game to a 3-3 score with just 5.7 seconds left in the period. Overall, the Cavaliers took 16 shots in the first period alone, and Penn freshman goalie Reed Junkin made an impressive nine saves to keep Virginia to just three goals in the period.

Going into the second period, sophomore attacker Mike D'Amario scored early to give the lead back to the Cavaliers and junior attackman Ryan Lukacovic followed the lead just a minute later to push Virginia to a 5-3 lead.

A couple of Virginia fouls at 11:43 led the Quakers to a wide-open goal opportunity to cut into the Cavalier lead. Sophomore midfielder Matt Emery responded with his first goal of the season from a Lukacovic assist to bring the lead to 6-4. Before the end of the half, Penn pulled within one goal yet again to make the score 6-5 going into the intermission.

The Cavaliers went on to dominate in the second half, behind a 5-0 run in the third period. After an impressive defensive clear to kick off the second half, Lukacovic started off the run off an assist from Pannell. Junior midfielder AJ Fish added another goal to the mix with his fifth of the season, at 11:30.

“It was nice to see the attack come alive a little bit,” coach Dom Starsia said. “Lukacovic has been just a little bit slower rounding into form and all and I thought he hit his stride a little bit today. We need our attack to play well to be the offensive team that we want to be, and today was a step forward for us.”

Conrad scored his second goal of the afternoon to extend the Virginia lead to 9-5. Conrad then assisted junior midfielder Zed Williams to add a third goal to the run and stretch the lead to 10-5. Conrad, who was highly anticipated for Virginia as the No. 1 recruit in his class and a member of the U.S. U-19 team, has been living up to expectations, scoring in all four games so far this season, and adding on two goals and an assist Sunday.

“I’m starting to feel really good out there,” Conrad said. “I’m starting to gain some momentum and I hope to keep that going.”

Fish’s second goal of the day extended the Virginia run to five at 7:18. Penn finally ended the Cavalier run at 4:41 with an extra man goal to bring the score to 11-6. The Quakers kept the momentum going late in the period to add another goal with just three seconds left in the third.

To kick off the final period, D’Amario added on his second goal of the afternoon at 13:40 off an assist from senior midfielder Greg Coholan to make the score 12-7. Another tally was added on just a minute later by Lukacovic, which earned him a hat trick for the afternoon.

Penn was able to respond with a 3-1 run to bring their deficit to 14-10. Pannell earned a hat trick and the final goal for the Cavaliers with just 58 seconds left to make the final score 15-10.

The Virginia win comes after the Cavaliers dropped their second straight game at home Tuesday against an impressive High Point team. Virginia knew they had much to improve upon after the overtime loss on their home turf.

“I feel like we gave a good effort today,” Pannell said. “Tuesday, we didn’t play half as well as we are capable. Getting this win and being able to bury some shots was great.”

The Cavaliers begin their ACC schedule Friday, as they will take on No. 3 Syracuse in Charlottesville for the match-up between the nationally-ranked teams.

“We’re just going to prepare for [Syracuse] like we prepare for every game,” Pannell said. “We have a motto of ‘No big games here,’ so we are just going to keep playing and battling.”

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