On a day when Virginia honored the 2011 National Championship team, the 2012 edition of the Virginia lacrosse program showed that it has the potential to repeat as champions.
Senior Colin Briggs had three goals and an assist as the top-ranked Cavaliers knocked off third-ranked Syracuse 14-10 before an announced crowd of 5855 fans at chilly Klockner Stadium this evening. It was the largest margin of victory in the series between the two powerhouses in nearly six years.
Both teams entered the game undefeated, but neither had really been tested yet. Syracuse was 2-0 coming into the game, but its wins were over Albany (12-7) and Army (10-9). Virginia's four previous wins were over Drexel, VMI, Stony Brook and Mount St. Mary's. So this game figured to be the first measuring stick for how good these two top-five teams really were.
The Orange actually led 6-4 at the half and seemed to have taken control of the game. But Virginia stormed out in the third quarter, outscoring the visitors 6-2 in the period to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Check back after the break for some more details on tonight's big victory.
The Cavaliers opened the scoring early, notching two goals in the first three minutes. Matt White scored just a minute and nineteen seconds into the match. Ryan Tucker followed that up a minute later to give the 'Hoos a 2-0 lead. Syracuse, though, would outscore Virginia 6-2 the rest of the half and take a 6-4 lead into halftime.
Colin Briggs scored both of the 'Hoos goals during that stretch. His first goal was an impressive sight to see. The Cavaliers struggled to clear the ball, facing a Syracuse ride that was tough all night. But Briggs got the ball in his net just outside the restraining line and drove straight at the goal, dodging between defenders and launching a shot into the back of the net. At the time, it seemed like that goal might be a bit of a back-breaker for 'Cuse, giving up a goal after riding so hard and so well. But as the 6-4 halftime score indicated, it wasn't much of a back-breaker.
If Syracuse dominated the final 27 minutes of the first half, VIrginia dominated the entire 30 minutes of the second half. Overall, the Cavaliers outscored the Orange 10-4 during that stretch, including 6-2 in the third quarter.
Orange coach John Desko made an interesting move, replacing starting goalie Matthew Lerman after three quarters and bringing in Dominic Lamolinara. Lerman had allowed ten goals, but also had nine saves on the evening. Lamolinara would end up with four goals allowed and not a single save. I'm sure the Syracuse faithful will dissect that decision all week.
The scoring for the Cavaliers was very well distributed. In addition to Briggs's three goals and an assist, Emery (2), White (2), Mark Cockerton (2), Stanwick, Bocklet, Clements, Tucker and LaPierre all scored for Virginia. Stanwick (2), Van Arsdale and Kugler all tallied assists.
Up next for Virginia is a mid-week match against Vermont on Tuesday night at 7pm. Then it is on to the big stage as the Cavaliers take on seventh-ranked Cornell on Saturday in the Face-Off Classic in Baltimore. Cornell will likely be looking for some payback after Virginia handed the Big Red two of their three losses last season, including knocking them out of the NCAA Tournament in the second-round.