Unlike Virginia’s close games against Syracuse and High Point, the team took control early against the outmatched Falcons and never looked back. The distribution of scoring by the Cavaliers (5-1, 0-1 ACC) reflected their depth, with 11 players notching goals by the end of the contest.
Early in the first quarter, Virginia blitzed the Falcons (1-3, 0-0 Mountain West) with some quick goals from sophomore midfielder Peter Garno, senior midfielder Griffin Harris and senior attackman Ian Laviano, putting the Cavaliers at an early 3-0 advantage. While Air Force tallied its first point of the day to make it 5-1, the gap was already too wide for a potential comeback. In the blink of an eye, the Cavaliers had raced ahead to a 9-1 lead with the help of goals from Garno and, notably, junior face-off man Petey LaSalla. Freshman attackman Connor Shellenberger helped lead the charge with a whopping four assists in the first quarter alone.
The second quarter, while not as fast-paced as the first, saw senior attackman Charlie Bertrand score a hat-trick that included one beautiful behind-the-back goal and one right-hand only shot on a fast break. Bertrand extended his goal streak to 64 games, which now stands as the NCAA record.
Returning from the intermission with a 13-2 lead, the Cavaliers launched another assault on the Air Force defense with the help of two goals from junior midfielder Jeff Conner. Air Force did not shy away on offense, yet senior goalie Alex Rode held steady by saving 11 of 15 shots on goal from the Falcons. Rode — after an impressive 17-save outing against High Point last week — once again anchored the stingy Cavalier defense.
In the fourth quarter, freshman attackman Patrick McIntosh and freshman midfielder Connell Kumar notched their first career goals, with McIntosh adding another before time expired. Junior attackman Paul Rodriguez also tallied his first point of the season, sending a looping pass across the crease to Kumar for a step-down shot.
“It was really rewarding to see our offense generate a lot of opportunities to score for others,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “We were able to facilitate, starting with Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore. They were dodging, creating and finding open teammates. That was really great to see ...”
The Cavaliers will return to action Thursday against North Carolina, in what should be a massive game for both sides. North Carolina will be playing in its first ACC game of the year, while Virginia will hope to solidify its case for a top five national ranking with a statement win at home. Faceoff at Klockner Stadium is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on the ACC Network.