No. 8 Virginia overcame a wild fourth quarter to defeat High Point Tuesday night. Scoring was not a problem for either team, as the Cavaliers (3-1, 0-0 ACC) and the Panthers (1-4, 0-0 SoCon) combined for 33 goals in a spectacular display of offensive firepower.
Redshirt freshman attacker Payton Cormier opened the game with a goal for Virginia, less than two minutes into the contest. High Point then went on a four goal run to take the lead, picking apart an inexperienced Virginia defense.
However, a goal by senior attacker Michael Kraus began a hot streak for the Cavaliers, netting the next six goals to take a lead. In that timespan, Kraus netted two goals, Cormier completed a hat trick with three goals in the first quarter alone, and freshman midfielder Peter Garno and senior defender Jared Conners both tallied one goal apiece.
Following the Virginia run that continued into the second quarter, the Panthers, down 7-4, ended their scoring drought with redshirt freshman attacker Devon Buckshot’s first goal of the night. Just 20 seconds later on the ensuing faceoff, senior defender Jared Conners picked up a ground ball and finished on the fast break for the Cavaliers, beginning a three-goal run for Virginia.
Freshman midfielder Michael Bienkowski netted his second goal of the season, and Cormier scored his fourth of the day on a spectacular finish to help the Cavaliers take a five-goal lead. Nonetheless, Buckshot and junior attacker Asher Nolting kept High Point within an arm’s length, scoring two goals to cut the deficit to 10-7 at the end of the first-half.
The majority of the third quarter was a back and forth affair, with Virginia and High Point trading three goals to keep the score at 13-10 with just 2:34 left in the third. However, High Point then used a chaotic ride and forced numerous turnovers to score three goals in just over two minutes. Junior defender Grant Ammann scored his first goal of the season, and a shot-clock beating goal by Buckshot tied things up at 13 heading into the final frame.
The Cavaliers opened up the fourth quarter with a man-up goal courtesy of junior attacker Matt Moore just over two minutes in to take the 14-13 lead. Buckshot and Virginia senior midfielder Dox Aitken then went tit-for-tat, tying the game up at 15 apiece with 9:32 to play.
A wild back-and-forth few minutes, highlighted by clutch saves by Virginia junior goalie Alex Rode and High Point freshman goalie Parker Green, kept both teams tied with just three minutes left in the game. Nevertheless, a late 3-0 run by Virginia sealed the game for the Cavaliers, with junior attacker Ian Laviano scoring the go-ahead goal and Kraus sealing the deal with two goals to end the game. Notably, the moments immediately following the game were marred by controversy, as High Point Coach Jon Torpey received a penalty flag for unsportsmanlike conduct after the final whistle.
Kraus paced Virginia with five goals and two assists alongside Cormier, who recorded four goals and one assist. Moore showcased his feeding prowess, recording five assists to complement his two goals on the evening and now sits at a team-leading 22 points through four games.
“First of all, what a huge effort by Michael Kraus,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “He didn’t practice yesterday with some sort of stomach bug, and we weren’t sure if he was going to play at all today, and for him to come out and score five goals and get a couple of assists was a big effort.”
Following a loss to Princeton, where Tewaaraton award-favorite senior attacker Michael Sowers recorded eight points, Virginia senior defender Kyle Kology stepped up and limited a dynamic attacker in Nolting to just one goal on the day.
“I’ve been looking to Cade [Saustad] for guidance ... he was that guy last year for us, and I’m always looking to him for what he would’ve done in certain situations,” Kology said. “The rest of the guys are going to set the defense up in a way that will support me if I get beat. I wouldn’t want to play with anybody else behind me.”
However, despite Kology’s strong performance, this was the second game in a row where the Cavalier defense has given up double digit goals. Rode recorded double digit saves for the fourth time this season — and after a strong first half with nine saves, only recorded two in the second half, both coming in the fourth quarter.
“Alex [Rode] made a couple of big saves in that fourth quarter when it felt like everything was going in and all the momentum was starting to build High Point’s way,” Tiffany said.
Virginia will look to build off this victory against Air Force Sunday afternoon at Klockner Stadium. Opening face-off is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be televised on ACC Network Extra.