Yea, this was never going to be much of a game. Coming into Tuesday night's showdown, Virginia owned a 21-0 record against the Keydets. VMI had broken double digits against Virginia all of once—in 1949. In the last five matchups, UVa's margins of victory have been 18, 14, 14, 16, and 14.
Add another 14 to the tally. Greg Coholan and Owen Van Arsdale each had three goals and an assist, and the Cavaliers held VMI scoreless until well into the fourth quarter. Goalie Matt Barrett recorded a shutout in two quarters of action and tallied 8 saves. Wesley Sanders, Eric Groleau, and Chris Spada had VMI's three goals, all of them unassisted.
Here are three things we learned from the Cavaliers' midweek tune-up.
Face-offs will be a stress point for this team all year
This was an absolutely overmatched opponent. And Virginia only won 14 out of 24 face-offs. That's ... troubling. VMI's last goal, in fact, came directly off a face-off. The Hoos have overcome serious face-off deficits several times this year—including winning all the crucial draws in last week's comeback win over Johns Hopkins—but it's difficult to see a path to a title that allows Virginia to keep giving up well over half of the face-offs.
The defense is continuing to gel
Last week, Davi Sacco recorded 5 caused turnovers at Hopkins. Tonight, he and Scott Hooper combined for another five. Will Railey played the entire third quarter in goal and faced only 4 shots, saving the only one that was on-goal. Yes, every statistic from tonight has to be taken with a Keydet-sized grain of salt. But if the Hoos ARE going to overcome their face-off problems, it starts with a ball-hawking defense that keeps Barrett out of the opponents' shooting gallery.
Lotta good young guys
Mike D'Amario (freshman) and Joe French (sophomore) each had three goals after the starters were pulled. Two more goals came from sophomores AJ Fish and Jacob Dean (one apiece), Freshman Jack Falk has proven to be a more-than-capable defensive midfielder; just ask Notre Dame's Jack Near, who got his fillings rattled by Falk two weeks ago. And of course there's the youth movement across the close defense. With youth comes inconsistency, but look to see this squad develop throughout the remainder of the year and be a true national force again by next season.