The No. 10 Virginia men’s lacrosse team dropped a crucial non-conference contest Saturday at Klöckner Stadium, losing 15-13 to No. 9 Johns Hopkins in a game that saw the Blue Jays overcome a massive halftime deficit.
The Cavaliers (7-3, 0-2 ACC) came out firing on all cylinders Saturday. They dismantled the Blue Jays in the first half, 9-2. Sophomore star attackman Michael Kraus scored two goals along with three assists, sophomore midfielder Dox Aitken added three goals and freshman goalie Alex Rode was commanding — posting seven saves.
Everything seemed to be clicking for Virginia, and the Cavaliers were well on their way to reclaiming the Doyle Smith Cup.
Coach Lars Tiffany’s halftime words reflected his confidence in his team’s play.
“Don't worry about the result,” Tiffany said. “Worry about the next play. Try to make that next play.”
Instead, the Blue Jays (6-2, 0-0 Big Ten) made those plays in the second half. They came out on fire, scoring six-consecutive goals to start the second half.
But Virginia had an answer. Aitken responded with two back-to-back goals to push the Cavaliers’ lead back to 11-8. Aitken finished with a career-best six goals on the night, and was crucial in keeping Virginia in the game down the stretch.
Johns Hopkins was unfazed, however, and responded with a seven-goal run of its own that Virginia could not overcome.
The crucial battle in this contest of two excellent offensive teams was possession. And the Cavaliers lost that battle in the second half, as their complacency turned into frustration.
Sophomore faceoff specialist Justin Schwenk — who won 10 of 13 faceoffs for Virginia in the first half — won only 8 of 18 the remainder of the game. The Cavaliers also lost the battle for ground balls in the second half, 21-12.
More possessions enabled the Blue Jays to build up momentum that Virginia ultimately couldn’t turn around.
“There’s plenty of season left,” Aitken said.
While this loss was definitely a blow to the Cavaliers’ postseason prospects, there still remains hope. Certainly, this team possesses the talent to beat the best. The question is whether Virginia’s young team can establish enough consistency to win key games.
The Cavaliers’ next test is against Richmond at home next Saturday, where they will attempt to bounce back after this crushing loss.