No. 4 Virginia men’s lacrosse bounced back from their loss last week to defeat No. 12 Syracuse by a score of 19-12. The Cavaliers (9-3, 3-2 ACC) started off hot and the Orange (8-6, 1-4 ACC) were never able to catch up. With the win, Virginia extended their streak of wins after a loss to 19 games.
The Cavaliers were dressed in 1980s-inspired retro jerseys for Alumni Day and honored the 1983 ACC Championship team on the field at halftime. They gave them a worthy performance, scoring the first six goals of the game and never letting the Orange get closer than a four-goal deficit.
After Virginia’s first six goals, Syracuse finally scored one of its own with 3:17 remaining in the first quarter. Simmons scored three of the first five goals for the Orange, diminishing the advantage of the Cavaliers to 9-5 midway through the second quarter, but senior attacker Payton Cormier tacked on a goal before halftime to give Virginia a five-goal lead heading into the break.
The Cavaliers quickly stretched the lead back out to eight with a three-goal spurt to open the third quarter, extinguishing any hope of an Orange comeback. The lead would grow to as much as 19-10 before Coach Lars Tiffany pulled the starting lineup and Syracuse added two goals to reach the final score.
Senior attacker Xander Dickson was unstoppable for Virginia scoring seven goals, which tied him for second place all-time in program single-game history. Along with two assists, Dickson also tied his career high with nine points.
Cormier added three goals of his own, earning his ninth hat trick in just 10 appearances this season. Cormier and Dickson were incredibly timely with their goals throughout the game, with Dickson scoring three in the Cavaliers’ six-goal opening run and Cormier halting a three-goal Syracuse run in the third quarter, which was their longest run of the day.
Sophomore goalie Matthew Nunes finished the day with 10 saves and earned the win, but Virginia’s defense mainly came from the offense keeping the Orange on their heels. Graduate student faceoff specialist Petey LaSalla once again won over half of the game’s faceoffs and even recorded a goal of his own. The Cavaliers as a whole also took 60 shots, their most of any conference game this season. Because of the constant pressure, Syracuse was never able to put together long scoring runs, and Virginia was able to roll to the win.
Perhaps the game’s most memorable moment came with around 6:30 left in the second quarter. Sophomore midfielder Carter Rice was carrying the ball up for the Orange when graduate student midfielder Ricky Miezan put his football experience on display and lowered his shoulder, delivering a hit strong enough to knock Rice’s helmet off and bring Klöckner to its feet.
Despite the elevated emotions that come with playing in a rivalry, Tiffany was pleased with his team’s focus and composure throughout the game.
“I really liked what I saw — and we didn’t fall into retaliating,” Tiffany said. “We kept our composure for the most part. I felt for the most part we were the aggressor, but didn’t get excessive with our penalties.”
While Virginia’s chances at an ACC regular-season title are slim after dropping both games to Duke, it is still very much in play for a top-four seed and the privilege of hosting a first-round playoff game.
With just two games remaining in the regular season, the Cavaliers will first finish their non-conference schedule at Lafayette Tuesday in Easton, Pa. That game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN Plus.