Virginia's last-second (literally) win over Loyola was the talk of the lacrosse world. Ryan Tucker's game-tying goal as time expired and James Pannell's overtime game-winner both made SportsCenter.
Saturday's win over Richmond may not have had the same buzzer-beater drama but kept Hoos fans on the edge of their seats.
Playing at Robins Stadium in the Spiders' first-ever Division I game, the Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead but gave up seven unanswered to go into the half down 9–8. Behind a game-high four goals from James Pannell, Virginia rallied to win 13–12.
Pannell's performance showed Virginia fans more of what we've hoped for from the younger brother of Tewaaraton-winner Rob, the all-time NCAA lacrosse scoring leader. Senior transfer Joe Lisicky turned in another strong game as well with four caused turnovers and four groundballs, showing the talent that led to his winning the Division III player of the year award at Lynchburg College.
Virginia gave up an abundance of second-chance shots that let Richmond take control of the second quarter. Some of the blame falls on freshman goalie Matt Barrett who continues to allow too many rebounds off saved shots. But the experienced defense in front of him needs to do a better job scooping them up, or at least keeping the attack from getting to them.
On the offensive end, too many Virginia shots were little more than playing catch with the goalie. The Hoos' 13 goals came on a massive 46 shots (for comparison, Richmond scored 12 on 24). Shot selection and finishing dogged this team last year, and will need to be addressed posthaste. While the quick turnaround from the Loyola drama on Thursday certainly kept the Hoos from being at their sharpest, there are definite areas for improvement before Virginia gets into the heart of its schedule.
After the game, coach Dom Starsia repeatedly said he felt honored to have been part of the Spiders' inaugural intercollegiate game. As soon as Richmond announced it was moving from club to varsity, Starsia called up the neighbors down the road and worked to get this game scheduled. The two squads will establish a regular series in the coming seasons.
The effort reflects Starsia's commitment to growing the game of lacrosse and helping it put down roots in new areas. Richmond-area schools are increasingly fielding lacrosse teams and should provide UofR with lots of homegrown talent in a few years' time.
Next up for Virginia is another road trip: on Saturday the 15th, the Hoos play Drexel in Philadelphia. Face-off is at 1:00.