The No. 10 Virginia men’s lacrosse team won its first ACC game of the season in dramatic fashion. The Cavaliers narrowly defeated No. 14 Syracuse in a Saturday afternoon clash at the Carrier Dome that had to go to overtime.
Virginia’s victory represents a major achievement for the team. This marks the first time Virginia has won its ACC opener since 2014, and the first time the Cavaliers have won at the Carrier Dome since 2009.
Virginia (3-2, 1-0 ACC) and Syracuse (2-2, 0-1 ACC) went back-and-forth early in the game. Syracuse sophomore midfielder Jacob Buttermore opened the scoring with a left-handed shot into the top-right corner of the goal after almost six minutes of play.
Sophomore midfielder Matt Moore tied it up for Virginia after scoring his 10th goal of the year before Syracuse regained the lead with two-straight goals in under two minutes.
Virginia responded with a 3-0 run with two goals from junior attackman Michael Kraus and a goal from senior midfielder Ryan Conrad in between.
Kraus kicked off the run with a transition goal as the first period came to an end. After Conrad added another, Kraus scored his second of the day with a brilliant no-look goal to give Virginia its first lead of the game.
The Cavaliers didn’t lead for long as Syracuse finished the first half on a 4-2 run, going into halftime with a 7-6 lead.
The first-half statistics reflected the close score line. Virginia and Syracuse had 20 and 21 shots, respectively, with both teams recording 13 shots on goal.
The Cavaliers and the Orange traded two goals each to start the second half before the home team used a 4-1 run to take a 13-9 lead with 10 minutes left in the game. However, just as Syracuse was gaining momentum and looking to put the game out of reach, Virginia rattled off three consecutive goals to cut the deficit to one with just 5:36 left to play.
Syracuse senior attackman Bradley Voight ended Virginia’s run with a goal in a man-up situation to give the Orange a two-goal advantage with just minutes left.
The Cavaliers, facing a challenging situation, stepped up exactly when they needed to. After freshman defenseman Cade Saustad delivered a brutal body check on Voight to force a turnover, junior defenseman Jared Conners scored as a Kraus assist found him in space.
Freshman midfielder Petey Lasalla followed up the transition goal by winning the ensuing face-off. With just over a minute left, Kraus scored a clutch goal to tie the game at 14-14. The Connecticut native created just enough space to get his right hand free and scored an all-important goal.
The Orange had an opportunity late to win the game, but a big save from sophomore goalkeeper Alex Rode sent the game to overtime.
Virginia dominated the overtime period, winning the faceoff and recording four shots to Syracuse’s zero.
With seconds left on the shot clock, senior attackman Mikey Herring didn’t hesitate to shoot after receiving a pass from Kraus from behind the cage, scoring his first goal of the season at a time when Virginia absolutely needed it.
"Another fantastic game between two traditional powers,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “Statistically this game was pretty balanced. We had an offensive flurry there in the end and I am really proud of our men to stay positive down four with 10 minutes to go.”
After last week’s 12-11 victory over Princeton, Virginia was able to win yet another overtime thriller on the road, this time against Syracuse with a score of 15-14.
Kraus led all Cavaliers with six points — three goals and three assists — including assisting and scoring the last two goals of regulation as well as assisting the game-winning goal in overtime. Junior midfielder Dox Aitken also contributed three goals while sophomore attackman Ian Laviano, Moore and Conrad added two goals each.
Although Syracuse couldn’t secure the win, Voight and Buttermore combined for an impressive six goals, and junior goalkeeper Drake Porter performed well with 14 saves.
Virginia returns home March 10 as the Cavaliers host Brown at Klöckner Stadium. Face-off is set for 1 p.m.