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No. 5 men’s lacrosse opens the season with dominant win over Towson

The Cavaliers’ offense puts on a spectacular performance to bury the Tigers 20-11

<p>Virginia went 19 of 23 from face-off with junior midfielder Petey LaSalla leading the charge at the X.</p>

Virginia went 19 of 23 from face-off with junior midfielder Petey LaSalla leading the charge at the X.

No. 5 Virginia opened the season after a 335-day hiatus Saturday afternoon with a phenomenal display of offense to take down the Towson Tigers, who were without Coach Shawn Nadelen because of a self-imposed suspension due to NCAA compliance violations. The Cavaliers (1-0, 0-0 ACC) netted 20 goals on the visiting Tigers (0-1, 0-0 CAA) despite the absence of All-American senior attack Matt Moore. 

Redshirt freshman attack Connor Shellenberger opened up scoring with a goal within the first minute of the game for Virginia — his first collegiate goal. The rest of the first period was a back-and-forth affair, with the scored knotted at four after the first period. Towson hit three pipes in the first frame, keeping it a tied affair. Sophomore attack Payton Cormier netted his first two goals of the day, along with senior attack Griffin Harris’s first goal of the season.

The Cavaliers’ offense started to click and went on a 7-0 run to take a 9-4 lead in the second quarter. Cormier scored another three goals, along with Shellenberger adding another. Graduate attack Charlie Bertrand scored his first goal as a Cavalier as well, extending his record of scoring at least one point in 59 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the nation. 

After a Towson goal, the Cavaliers went on another 5-0 run between the second and third quarters, with Virginia leading 11-5 at the break. Shellenberger followed with two more goals, and Bertrand made another goal. Junior midfielder Petey LaSalla and sophomore attack Xander Dickson scored their first goal of the season, respectively. 

In the second half, Virginia was able to substitute in all available players. With the game uncontested for much of the second half, Coach Lars Tiffany was able to help younger players garner more experience, with sophomore attack Will Cory netting his first career goal to get the Cavaliers to 20. 

“[Towson] came to Charlottesville to get a win and they were not intimidated at all,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “I was really impressed with their team and their coaching staff and how prepared they were.”

LaSalla was able to successfully adapt to the newly introduced face-off rules, going 19 of 23 from the face-off X. 

“For us, it was getting into a rhythm at the face-off X, and Petey LaSalla started to pick up some tough ground balls and winning possessions there,” Tiffany said.

Cormier recorded his career-high of six goals on the day, also finishing with one assist on the day. Bertrand also shined in his Virginia debut, scoring four goals and two assists.

This game was the highly anticipated debut of not only Bertrand, but also former No. 1 ranked recruit Shellenberger. Shellenberger, a Charlottesville native, had four goals and three assists in his collegiate debut.

Defensively, senior long stick midfielder Jared Conners had six ground balls and caused three turnovers. A former All-American, Conners helped an improving defense limit a potent Towson offense. 

Virginia will look to build off this victory, returning to action Saturday, Feb. 13 at home against Army with face-off set for 12 p.m.