No. 6 Virginia men’s lacrosse split a pair of games this week, falling big to No. 13 Duke Thursday before dominating Quinnipiac Saturday. Despite the conference loss, the Cavaliers are still positioned well to capture the regular-season ACC crown but will need to find more consistency in order to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Virginia at Duke
Thursday afternoon in Durham, N.C., the Virginia men’s lacrosse team was dominated by Duke — powered by an exceptional performance from graduate student goalie Mike Adler — as the Cavaliers (9-3, 4-1 ACC) lost 17-8. Adler controlled the game for the Blue Devils (10-5, 2-2), netting a career high 20 saves, allowing Duke to lead for the entire game.
After a back-and-forth first 10 minutes of the game, Duke scored two quick goals towards the end of the first quarter as sophomore phenom attacker Brennan O’Neill scored his 46th and 47th goals of the year. O’Neill finished with four goals and four assists on the day, using his dodging ability to draw defensive shifts and find an open teammate while also being able to use his outstanding shot to beat freshman goalie Matthew Nunes.
With 19 seconds in the first quarter, the Cavaliers scored their first goal as sophomore attacker Connor Shellenberger fed junior midfielder Peter Garno who found the top left corner in a man-up situation to make the score 2-1 at the end of the first quarter.
The Blue Devils opened the second quarter with a goal from freshman midfielder Reed Landin followed by another goal from O’Neill. Virginia responded with a goal from graduate attacker Matt Moore, who is 14 points away from becoming Virginia’s all time points leader. After the Cavalier goal by Moore, the Blue Devils went on a three goal run in under two minutes which ripped away any momentum that Virginia may have had before halftime. Senior midfielder Jeff Conner scored his sixth goal of the season on an underhand shot from the left wing which cut the deficit to 7-3 going into halftime.
Senior faceoff specialist Petey LaSalla won the opening faceoff of the second half and scooped the ensuing ground ball, making him the program leader in total ground balls with 340. LaSalla now owns program records in ground balls and faceoff wins, cementing himself in the Virginia lacrosse history books.
The third quarter was dominated by Duke as it outscored the Cavaliers 6-2 in the quarter. After three quick goals for the Blue Devils, junior attacker Xander Dickson scored on a fast break for the Cavaliers to make the score 10-5. On the following possession, junior attacker Payton Cormier had a great look at the goal but Adler stuffed him, continuing his dominant performance in the cage. Graduate student attacker Joe Robertson closed out the scoring in the third quarter for the Blue Devils, making the score 13-5 headed into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was again controlled by the Blue Devils as the Cavaliers struggled to control possession and find scoring opportunities. Duke continued to beat Nunes, who struggled to stop shots throughout the game. Virginia was able to find the back of the net three times in the fourth quarter as freshman attacker Griffin Schutz, graduate student Regan Quinn and sophomore faceoff specialist Gable Braun scored for the Cavaliers.
As the end of the season is approaching, Virginia needs to find its offensive identity. Just like all three losses for Virginia this season, the Blue Devils exposed the Cavaliers’ weaknesses in their 17-8 victory.
Virginia vs. Quinnipiac
Saturday night at Klöckner Stadium, No. 6 Virginia picked up a 21-9 win against Quinnipiac after falling to Duke on Thursday. The Cavaliers led 6-1 at the end of the first quarter to quickly pull away from the Bobcats (2-8, 1-3 MAAC). The early lead was helped by a first quarter hat-trick by Shellenberger who later added two assists. Additionally, the strong offensive performance was helped by LaSalla, who won 23 of his 28 faceoffs — a season high.
To start the game, it was Quinnipiac who got on the board first with a goal from junior attacker John DeLucia, but Virginia responded with a six-goal run. The first two goals came from Shellenberger, scoring both goals unassisted. A few possessions later on a man-up opportunity, Shellenberger scored his third goal which was assisted by Cormier to give the Cavaliers a 3-1 lead.
A minute later, Conner found Cormier to extend the lead to four. Sophomore attacker Patrick McIntosh added to the scoring with an unassisted goal. Schutz scored as well to close out the first quarter after getting past his defender from behind the goal to make the score 6-1.
To open up the second quarter, the Bobcats answered back with a goal. The Cavaliers responded with a nine-goal run beginning with a Dickson goal assisted by Shellenberger. Junior midfielder Michael Bienkowski then scored his first goal of the season followed by a pair of goals from senior midfielder Jack Simmons.
Dickson then added another two goals to his day with the goals assisted by Conner and Cormier, respectively. Dickson finished the day with five goals from 10 shots. Graduate student midfielder Evan Zinn then found the back of the net with a goal assisted by Simmons to make the score 13-2. Shellenberger — for his second assist of the day — found Conner for his first goal of the day.
To close out the first half, Cormier assisted Dickson on a man-up opportunity for his third assist of the day. Cormier finished the game with two goals and a career-high four assists. Shortly after, Quinnipiac picked up a quick goal to make the score at halftime 15-3.
The Bobcats picked up another goal to begin the second half before the Cavaliers responded with a goal of their own from Schutz assisted by Cormier. DeLucia then scored another for Quinnipiac before Virginia fired back with three unassisted goals.
Dickson scored the first of the three followed by Cormier and senior attacker Paul Rodriguez to make the score 19-5, putting it out of reach for the Bobcats to close out the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Quinnipiac scored four goals but their effort was not enough to come close to cutting the lead of the Cavaliers. Additionally, Virginia put in two goals of their own in the fourth quarter, one from McIntosh assisted by Zinn and the other by Rodriguez assisted by Quinn to make the final score 21-9.
The Cavaliers will return to action Saturday against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. With a win against the Orange, Virginia clinches their 19th ACC title all-time. The game is set to start at 4 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPNU.