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No. 6 Virginia Lacrosse uses strong defense in second half to overcome High Point on the road, 18-12

First year goalie Alex Rode finishes with 11 saves and six goals against.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

It took the better part of three quarters to pull away, but No. 6 Virginia battled High Point to an 18-12 win. The Hoos are now 3-0 on the season and 2-0 on the road. The Panthers scored six goals in the first quarter, but the Virginia defense tightened up and allowed just six goals the rest of the game. First year Alex Rode came into the game late in the first quarter and allowed just six goals and came up with 11 saves and a 65% save percentage.

Michael Kraus led all scorers with five goals and two assists, while Ian Laviano added four goals and Dox Aitken three.

High Point’s Connor Robinson and Asher Nolting had three goals apiece in the loss.

Virginia won 19-of-34 (56%) of the face offs, held a 38-28 advantage in ground balls, and outshot the Panthers 47-40. The Hoos played physical defense, causing eight turnovers but committing eight fouls, as well (HPU converted just three of them).

High Point took the first face off by way of a violation against the Hoos, leading to a goal by the Connor Robinson and a 1-0 lead at the 13:25 mark. Virginia was unable to corral the next face off, and Koby Russell pushed HPU’s lead to 2-0 less than a minute later. Aitken answered with his sixth goal of the season at 11:23 with a bouncer from outside that snuck by the High Point goalkeeper to make it 2-1. Michael Kraus wasted no time on Virginia’s next possession, tying the game at two just 13 seconds later.

The tie didn’t last long as superstar freshman Asher Nolting somehow finished a one-handed shot in traffic to put High Point back ahead 3-2.

Nolting followed the circus shot with a diving goal, re-establishing their two goal lead with 8:44 to play in the first quarter. The Panthers took their biggest lead of the day at 5-2 on an extra man goal after Kraus was called for an illegal body check.

Laviano took advantage of a broken play to put one past Zach Tuell in cage to close the gap to 5-3. On the next offensive possession for Virginia, the Hoos drew a flag but were unable to take advantage. The Panthers took a 6-3 lead, leading to first year Alex Rode taking over in the cage for Virginia. Rode came up with two saves immediately, leading to a transition goal by Laviano (his second of the day) to make it 6-4.

Virginia’s defense came up huge, forcing a turnover by Nolting which led to a fast break by Jared Conners. Conners found Kraus for an outside shot that pulled Virginia within one at 6-5. Ryan Conrad got on the board after the Hoos won the next face off and tied the game at six, and Matt Emery gave Virginia their first lead with just under 11 minutes to play in the first half.

High Point evened things up at seven on a goal by Connor Robinson with 8:35 left in the half. Virginia won the ensuing face off, but Tuell notched his sixth save of the half and the Panthers were able to draw a late hit penalty on Conners to get a minute man advantage. The Cavalier defense stood tall, allowing the Hoos to clear the ball and kill the penalty. Aitken buried an outside shot after some outstanding passing around the perimeter of the Panther defense to give the Hoos the lead back at 8-7.

The Cavalier defense stepped up the intensity, but the offense got fancy and turned it over, giving High Point an easy fast break that ended with a goal. The Panthers appeared to win the face off, but Justin Schwenk got the ground ball off of a well-executed trail check. Kraus scored his third of the game to put the Hoos back ahead, but another extra man goal for High Point tied it at nine with 1:38 to play in the half. Neither team would score, going into halftime tied 9-9.

Stats at the half were very even with both teams winning 10-of-20 face offs, Virginia edging HPU 27-21 in shots and ground balls 14-11. Kraus led the way with the Hoos with three first half goals, and Laviano and Aitken both had two goals. High Point had three players with two goals apiece in the first half.

Rode opened the second half with his fourth save of the game, giving the Hoos possession. Aitken scored his third of the game, shaking off his defender from 15 yards out and switching to his left to bury the low shot and give Virginia the 10-9 lead. The Cavaliers extended their lead to two at 11-9 thanks to Kraus’s fourth of the game, and HPU was called for a penalty after the score. Virginia won the face off, but failed yet again to convert on the extra man opportunity as Tim Troutner got a save on the crease.

On the next possession by the Panthers, Robinson put one past Rode to close the gap back to one on his third goal of the game. A face off win by Schwenk and the Hoos put the ball back into the hands of the UVA offense. They quickly capitalized with a goal by Laviano on a cut to the crease making it 12-10 with 9:59 left in the third quarter. First year Matt Moore gave the Hoos a three goal lead - the biggest of the game for either team to that point - on a zinger from the outside one minute later.

Neither team would score again until Nolting picked up his third of the day with 17 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 13-11 heading into the final quarter. Laviano scored his fourth of the game with 12:01 left in the game to give the Hoos a little more breathing room at 14-11. Mike D’Amario scored his first of the game with 9:50 remaining, and the Hoos won the ensuing face off and called a timeout to retain possession.

An illegal body check by Aitken led to a one minute non-releasable penalty. High Point scored quickly, but back-to-back face off wins by Schwenk led to two man down goals by the Cavaliers, one by Kraus and one by Schwenk, giving Virginia a 17-12 lead with eight minutes to play.

D’Amario capped off the scoring with a one-handed underhand goal to make it 18-12 and secure the hard fought win. Check it out:

Next up, the Hoos host Princeton Saturday at 1pm.