No. 3 seed men’s lacrosse overcomes defending champion Yale in national title game

Cavaliers win their sixth national championship in dominant fashion

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Coach Lars Tiffany wins a national championship in his third year with Virginia.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

The third-seeded Virginia men’s lacrosse team defeated fifth-seeded Yale Monday afternoon 13-9 in the final of the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship. 

In the two team’s first meeting since 1991, Virginia (17-3, 3-1 ACC) used a strong defensive effort to beat Yale (15-4, 6-1 Ivy League) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. 

With the win, the Cavaliers secured their first national championship since 2011 and their sixth title all-time. 

While Yale scored the opening goal just over two minutes into the game, Virginia responded with back-to-back goals from sophomore attackman Matt Moore to give the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead halfway through the first quarter.

After no team scored again in the first period, Yale tied the game early in the second as junior attackman Matt Gaudet scored on an empty Virginia net after sophomore goalkeeper Alex Rode came out to fight for a ground ball. 

Virginia picked up momentum later in the second quarter when the Cavaliers used a 4-0 run to take a 6-2 lead going into halftime. 

Junior attackman Michael Kraus kicked off the team’s run with a pair of goals before junior midfielder Dox Aitken scored his first of the game and freshman midfielder Petey LaSalla scored directly off a faceoff win.

Virginia’s 6-2 lead after one half is the first time the Cavaliers have led at halftime since the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Virginia also held Yale to its lowest first-half goal total of the season. 

Yale came out in the second half firing on all cylinders with two quick goals to cut the Virginia lead to two.

However, before the Bulldogs could score any more goals, the Cavaliers went on an 5-0 run as their lead ballooned to seven. Four different Cavaliers scored during the run.

Before Virginia could run away with the game, Yale scored four of the next five goals to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 12-8.

Virginia sophomore attackman Ian Laviano ended the Yale run with his first goal of the game before Yale scored the last goal of the tournament with seconds left.

Despite the Bulldogs’ late run, the Cavaliers won the game 13-9 and will return home to Charlottesville as the national champions. 

For Virginia, Moore and Kraus led the attack, scoring seven goals between them. Aitken added another two, while LaSalla contributed a pair of scores in addition to his spirited play at the faceoff X against the best faceoff specialist in the country in junior TD Ierlan. 

Rode’s 13-save performance was critical for the Cavaliers as was senior midfielder Ryan Conrad’s seven ground balls and three caused turnovers.

Virginia’s offense stepped up when it needed to, and Virginia’s defense locked down the Bulldogs all game. 

In just his third year with the Cavaliers, Coach Lars Tiffany accomplished all three of his program’s major goals — an ACC regular season championship, an ACC Tournament Championship and a national championship. 

The Cavaliers will return to action in spring 2020 as they try to defend all three of their titles.

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