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No. 8 men’s lacrosse dominates Air Force, winning 15-5

The Cavaliers out together their best all-around performance of the season

<p>Junior attacker Matt Moore tallied three points in Virginia’s dominant win over Air Force.</p>

Junior attacker Matt Moore tallied three points in Virginia’s dominant win over Air Force.

No. 8 Virginia men’s lacrosse dominated Air Force Sunday afternoon en route to a 15-5 victory at Klockner Stadium. While not playing their strongest opponent thus far this season, the Cavaliers (4-1, 0-0 ACC) put together their best overall performance of the season, allowing for a comfortable margin of defeat.

Virginia freshman midfielder Peter Garno opened the scoring less than three minutes into the contest with a top-shelf laser off a pass from redshirt freshman attacker Payton Cormier. The Falcons (3-3, 0-0 Mountain West) answered through senior attacker Trey Lervick, who scored with 8:39 left in the first quarter.

The Cavaliers then strung together four consecutive goals with contributions from senior attacker Michael Kraus, freshman midfielder Michael Biendowski and junior attacker Ian Laviano. With his goal, Kraus has now recorded at least one point in every game of his career — all 54 of them. 

Air Force scored two of the next three with goals from Lervick and freshman attacker Ethan Grandolfo to make the score 6-3 with 5:48 left in the opening half. However, that is as close as the Falcons came this game. To close the first half, Garno added his second goal while sophomore midfielder Jeff Conner netted his first of the season to give Virginia a five-goal lead at halftime.

The Cavaliers’ strong finish to the half sparked a run spanning 32:31 — over half the game — in which Virginia locked down on defense while scoring nine goals on the other end. In fact, following Grandolfo’s earlier goal, Air Force would not find the back of the net again until only 3:17 remained in the game.

The 9-0 run allowed the Cavaliers to turn a 6-3 advantage into a 15-3 demolition. With such a large lead, backup freshman goalie David Roselle and sophomore goalie Miles Thompson were also given an opportunity to play in the fourth quarter.

During the run, Cormier and Kraus each added two goals to complete their hat-tricks, while junior attacker Matt Moore scored twice and senior midfielder Dox Aitken added his first goal of the game.

Air Force tallied two late goals from freshman attacker Brandon Dodd and junior midfielder Gianni Orlando to end its scoring drought and bring the final scoreline to 15-5.

On the offensive end, Virginia was balanced with Cormier and Conner each totalling five points followed by Kraus with four points and Moore and Garno each tallying three points. 

"Today was certainly our best all-around effort,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “In terms of our team offense, I think we shot the ball as well as we've shot, and this was against a great goalie.”

Defensively, junior goalkeeper Alex Rode was not called upon often as the Cavaliers only allowed 13 shots on goal out of 28 total shots. Rode finished with seven saves while Thompson added another save in his short stint in the goal.

After allowing 31 goals during their last two games, this performance was certainly a step in the right direction for the Cavaliers’ young defense, spearheaded by junior Kyle Kology.

“Defense, communicating, when to slide, when not to slide, we made some really good decisions there,” Tiffany said. “We were able to get the shot clock low during their offensive possessions.”

Additionally, Virginia did an excellent job creating extra possessions for the offense. Not only did sophomore faceoff man Petey LaSalla have a strong day —  winning 9 of his 14 faceoffs — but the Cavaliers gave the Falcons a difficult time on clears, only allowing Air Force to cross midfield on 15 of their 23 attempts.

“And, I am certainly really grateful for how well we rode today in terms of creating that pressure with our ten-man ride, and causing a bunch of turnovers and getting the ball back,” Tiffany said.

Virginia will look to continue its strong play as the team hits the road for the first time this season in a matchup against Brown Sunday at noon. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.


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