No. 1 men’s lacrosse continues strong start with 12-8 win over No. 18 Lehigh

Another balanced offensive performance and strong defensive effort propelled the Cavaliers to victory

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Dox Aitken was one of the seven Cavalier to score against Lehigh. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

Virginia men’s lacrosse beat No. 18 Lehigh 12-8 Saturday at Klockner Stadium. The No. 1 Cavaliers (2-0, 0-0 ACC), backed by another strong all-around effort, took down their second-ranked opponent.

Virginia senior attacker Michael Kraus scored his first goal of the season off a pass from redshirt freshman attacker Payton Cormier to open the scoring only 40 seconds into the game. The Mountain Hawks (1-1, 0-0 Patriot League) would answer with 10:22 left in the first quarter with a goal from senior attacker Ryan Klose.

From there, the Cavaliers closed the period with five unanswered goals. Kraus completed a first-quarter hat-trick, while Cormier, junior attacker Matt Moore and senior defender Jared Conners all added a goal each.

During the first period, Virginia outshot Lehigh 18-4 and amassed 11 shots on goal to only three from the Mountain Hawks.

To start the second quarter, Lehigh scored three consecutive goals to cut the Cavalier lead to 6-4. During the run, the Mountain Hawks got goals from sophomore attacker Tommy Schelling — who was coming off a seven-goal outing against Utah — and freshman attacker Christian Mule. 

Virginia’s lone goal of the second quarter came from freshman midfielder Peter Garno — the score extended the Cavaliers’ lead to 7-4 going into halftime. Despite taking two fewer shots than Lehigh in the second quarter, Virginia still headed to the locker room with a commanding 28-16 edge in total shots. 

After nearly 11 minutes of scoreless action to start the second half, Virginia junior attacker Ian Laviano converted a pass from Kraus for the period’s first goal with 4:07 left in the third quarter. Just over a minute later, senior midfielder Dox Aitken found the back of the net to further extend the lead to 9-4. Lehigh senior attacker Crew Cintron closed the period with a goal of his own to cut the deficit to four. 

In the fourth quarter, the Mountain Hawks suffered their only penalty of the game, and Virginia took advantage. Moore scored on the man-up opportunity with 11:24 left in the game. Kraus added another goal two minutes later. 

After Virginia opened the second half with a 4-1 run, Lehigh was able to find late life with two goals from Klose, but that’s as close as the Mountain Hawks would come.

With 4:29 left, Moore delivered his sixth goal of the season to give the Cavaliers a 12-7 lead — a nearly insurmountable lead given the time remaining. The Mountain Hawks would add one late with Schelling’s third goal of the game, but the scoring would end there.

After a career-high 19 saves last week against Loyola, Virginia junior goalkeeper Alex Rode turned in another solid effort with 11 saves on 19 shots on goal. The defense, led by junior Kyle Kology, freshman Quentin Matsui and freshman Scott Bower, certainly helped Rode by limiting Lehigh to only 28 shots after allowing 55 last week.

“Our team defense, there was some really good communication going on out there,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “It's really a credit to Kyle and the rest of the defense working together.”

Compared to 28 shots from the Mountain Hawks, the Cavaliers peppered the Lehigh goal with 48. Despite sophomore face-off man Petey LaSalla winning less than half of his matchups, Virginia was able to keep up the offensive pressure by leading Lehigh in ground balls 45-36 and committing just 14 turnovers, as opposed to 23 from the Mountain Hawks.

"Contested ground balls were the critical key today,” Tiffany said. ”We felt like when there were two or three Lehigh men and two to three Virginia men who came up with a lot of those extra possessions, which was critical in a game where the opponent was very strong at the faceoff x as Lehigh is with both [Conor] Gaffney and [Mike] Sisselberger.”

On offense, the Cavaliers were led by Kraus, who finished with four goals and an assist, and Moore, who finished with three goals and two assists. With his lone assist to Laviano, Kraus became the fourth Virginia player to record at least 100 career goals and 100 career assists — joining Kevin Pehlke, Danny Glading and Steele Stanwick. 

Virginia will continue its season-opening homestand Saturday with a noon game against Princeton at Klockner Stadium. The game will be televised on ACC Network.

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