The No. 4 Virginia men’s lacrosse team traveled to Durham, N.C., Saturday for an ACC showdown at Koskinen Stadium against No. 6 Duke, falling 12-7 to the highly-touted Blue Devils.
The day’s drama began before the game even started. A four-and-a half hour weather delay postponed the match’s start time and created challenging field conditions. Additionally, junior attackman Michael Kraus — Virginia’s leader in points — was ruled out of the game due to injury. Due to Kraus’s absence, senior attackman Mikey Herring earned his sixth start of the season.
The Cavaliers (9-3, 3-1 ACC) and the Blue Devils (10-3, 2-2 ACC) played an up-and-down affair in the first half before Duke pulled away in the second. Duke outscored Virginia 7-2 in the final two quarters to snap the Cavaliers’ nation-leading eight-game winning streak.
Duke started off the game with two quick goals through senior attackman Sean Lowrie and junior attackman Reilly Walsh. However, Virginia responded with three straight goals spanning the first and second quarters to take its first lead of the game.
Both teams traded goals back and forth before the first half ended as the score going into halftime was knotted at 5-5.
With Kraus injured, Virginia sophomore attackman Matt Moore stepped up and played a role in each of the Cavaliers’ first-half goals, recording four goals and an assist.
Virginia’s defense was excellent as Duke’s top three goal scorers — sophomore attackman Joe Robertson, junior attackman Joey Manown and senior midfielder Brad Smith — were held to just a single goal between them in the first 30 minutes.
The Cavaliers retook the lead early in the second half courtesy of Herring, but the Blue Devils stormed ahead with a 6-0 run to take an 11-6 lead.
Robertson, Smith and senior attackman CJ Carpenter combined for the six goals, helping the Blue Devils build up a significant lead in the second half.
Virginia ended Duke’s run with sophomore attackman Ian Laviano notching his first of the game, but it was too little too late as the Blue Devils added one final goal with just over a minute left to secure the 12-7 victory.
The Cavaliers’ starting attackmen — Moore, Herring and Laviano — provided all seven of Virginia goals, while the Blue Devils had a much more balanced attack with six different players getting on the board.
The Blue Devils put on a full defensive clinic against Virginia. Duke caused turnovers, forced bad shots and stifled the Cavaliers’ vaunted attack in a way that hadn’t been done all year. In fact, Virginia was held to its lowest scoring total of the season.
“Give Duke credit for continually pressuring us [on offense] and wearing down our defense,” Coach Lars Tiffany said.
The Duke win not only puts an end to Virginia’s winning streak but gives the Blue Devils their 11th straight win over the Cavaliers.
As the ACC Tournament quickly approaches, both teams will be looking to clinch the conference title, especially with a possible rematch on the way.
Virginia returns to action Tuesday as the Cavaliers welcome VMI to Klöckner Stadium. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.