No. 3 Virginia men’s lacrosse carried their energy from last week’s victory to defeat Lafayette Tuesday by a score of 20-11. The Cavaliers (10-3, 3-2 ACC) pulled away from the Leopards (6-9, 3-5 Patriot League) in the third quarter with a double-digit lead, and although Lafayette made a final push, the margin was simply too much to overcome. With the high-scoring victory, the Cavaliers end non-conference play 7-1.
After defeating Syracuse Saturday, Virginia had a quick turnaround in traveling to Lafayette in Easton, P.A. The scoring began with a goal from senior attacker Xander Dickson, who entered the matchup as the Cavaliers’ top scorer with 52 goals on the year. Dickson appeared again in the final minute of the quarter with a slick backhand shot that broke the Leopards’ defense.
Virginia developed a 3-1 lead after the first quarter, but the Leopards controlled the first period’s tempo, outshooting the Cavaliers 13-9 and outnumbering them in shots on goal 8-5. However, the strong play of sophomore goalie Matthew Nunes — who had seven saves in the first quarter alone — the scoreboard favored Virginia.
In the second quarter, the nation’s top offense — scoring 18.08 goals per game — came alive. Junior attacker Connor Shellenberger directed the Cavaliers’ offensive plays, including a fast-break where he dished an assist to Dickson for his fourth goal of the game. Shellenberger is second in the country in assists on the season.
As their offense settled in, the Cavaliers let their stars go to work. With just under 10 minutes in the second quarter, Dickson patiently surveyed his teammates cutting around their opponents’ net. After around 10 seconds of standing still, Dickson casually passed to graduate student midfielder Thomas McConvey for a fourth unanswered goal. Virginia would lead by as many as seven goals before entering the half up 8-2.
Lafayette had several moments in the second half that fostered momentum. With 8:51 left in the third quarter, Lafayette scored and prompted one of the loudest crowd reactions Tuesday night. However, that goal was quickly offset after graduate student midfielder Petey LaSalla won the following face-off and marched down the field to score in just seven seconds.
Virginia continued to excel throughout the third quarter. In just a 37 second span between 4:44 and 4:07 in the quarter, the Cavaliers scored three times, with two coming from freshman attacker Truitt Sunderland. When the two teams met in their respective huddles after the quarter, the Cavaliers led the Leopards 19-6.
Lafayette scored in all of their first four possessions in the fourth quarter, putting the score within single digits. But in the final 12 minutes, the Leopards could only tally one more goal, ending the game 20-11.
Dickson shined for Virginia Tuesday night, having scored a team-high four goals, all of which came from the first half. Also, Nunes excelled for the Cavaliers’ defense, recording 13 saves and extending his double-digit save streak to seven games in a row. While the Leopards are not at the same level of competition the Cavaliers will face from this point forward, the game was still important for the team to be able to prove it can pull away from lower-ranked teams.
Virginia will look to cap off their regular season with a home win against No. 1 Notre Dame in Charlottesville Sunday. Beating Notre Dame 15-10 earlier this season, the Cavaliers look for a similar result, this time as the hosts. The game begins at 2 pm and can be streamed on ACC Network.