Saturday at the Carrier Dome, Virginia competed against a reeling Syracuse team who came into the game losing four straight games. The Cavaliers (10-3, 5-1 ACC) defeated the struggling Orange (4-9, 1-4 ACC), winning 21-15. Virginia won its 19th ACC regular season championship with its last one coming in 2019, when the team eventually went on to win the National Championship.
The Orange opened scoring just over a minute into the game as star junior midfielder Tucker Dordevic found the back of the net, the first of his three goals in the afternoon. Virginia responded quickly, however, as sophomore attacker Connor Shellenberger scored nine seconds later after he caused a turnover off of the faceoff.
The next two goals were instigated by senior midfielder Jeff Conner who found freshman attacker Griffin Schutz for the first goal, and then Conner scored himself after beating his defender from behind the goal to make the score 3-1. Conner finished the game with four goals and three assists, his highest point output this year.
Later in the first quarter, graduate midfielder Jack Peele cleared the ball from the defensive end and beat the Syracuse goalie, Virginia transfer and sophomore Bobby Gavin to make the score 5-1. The Orange kept the score within striking distance in the first quarter as they scored two more goals to cut their deficit to three as the score going into the second quarter was 6-3 Cavaliers.
Syracuse continued its run into the second quarter as it scored two quick goals. Virginia was able to get on the board in the second quarter when graduate student attacker Matt Moore found Conner from behind the goal as Conner was able to step into his shot and beat Gavin, making the score 7-5.
Virginia began to open the game up after this goal as it was followed by a slick pick-and-roll play between Moore and junior attacker Xander Dickson, who found the top-right corner of the net to make it a three-goal game. The Cavaliers went into halftime with a 12-7 lead after a 6-2 run to close the second quarter.
After a quick Syracuse goal from freshman midfielder Carter Rice, Virginia continued its run into the second half, scoring six straight goals before the Orange could get back into the scoring column. The first goal of this run encapsulated the day for Virginia — after dodging down the right side of the field, Conner found Dickson on a cross-field pass, and he ripped an undershot that found the back of the net.
In the fourth quarter, the game was out of reach for the Orange, as the Cavaliers held possession while many backups got playing time. Conner capped off his incredible afternoon in the fourth quarter as he beat his defender behind the goal again, making the score 19-11. Syracuse scored five more goals in the final quarter, but it would not matter as the Cavaliers came away victorious, with a 21-15 win.
Virginia had no issues finding scoring opportunities on Saturday, a good sign considering its recent struggles against other ACC foes. As tournament time approaches, they will have to continue to play unselfishly to break down opposing defenses.
The Cavaliers return to Klöckner Stadium Thursday night as they compete against Lafayette on senior night. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ACC Network.