As Virginia and Rutgers headed into the locker room at halftime, snow began falling at High Point Solutions Stadium. By the time the Cavaliers and Scarlet Knights returned to the field, the grounds crew had been forced to shovel the crease and midfield lines. Footprints in the accumulating snow became easier to spot than the ball in play.
Same wintry mix, same result.
Just as they did against Drexel in Charlottesville, Virginia lacrosse showed the ice water in its veins to hold off an overmatched opponent in snowy conditions. With the 14-5 victory, the Hoos stand at 3-0 in the young season.
It was a wire-to-wire victory for the Hoos, with Rutgers never getting closer than a four-goal deficit in the second half. Consequently, Caroline and I came up with snow- and winter-themed nicknames for Virginia's key players:
- Dog Zled Williams: 4 goals (3 in the first half) and an assist
- Matt Polar Barrett: 12 saves and 5 goals allowed, a save percentage of .706
- Greg Hot Cocoaholan: 3 goals
- Ryan Iglookacovic: 2 goals, both in the fourth quarter to slam the door
- Snowen Van Arsdale: 1 goal, 2 assists (both to James Pannell)
- Carlson Mittenkin: several impressive man-to-man shutdowns and speedy clears
The Cavaliers' face-off men—the duties split between Jeff Kratky and Jason Murphy—did an admirable job at the dot and stifled Rutgers' Joe Nardella, who entered the game winning better than 60 percent of his draws. The face-off unit's wing players were key to that Virginia success, cleanly snaring groundballs that scooted out of the midfield scrum.
Barrett's dominance in the cage, a young defensive unit that has gelled quickly under senior Davi Sacco's leadership, and a competent face-off unit? Many of the question marks we identified at the outset of the year are starting to have answers—and good ones at that.
Virginia faces another major test as it opens ACC play on the road at Syracuse on March 1st. The Orange play eleventh-ranked Army tonight at 7 PM. Rutgers next takes on Wagner, part of a five-game homestand.