Fast-paced and frenetic throughout, Saturday’s game lived up to the hype as the No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers outgunned the No. 18 Princeton Tigers 18-15. This was the 25th all-time meeting with Princeton, a rivalry filled with history as the two storied programs met for the first time since 2012. Virginia’s defense stood tall in the second half, holding the Tigers to just five goals and first year Alex Rode getting 10 saves in his first career start.
Ian Laviano led Virginia with five goals and two assists, and Michael Kraus added four goals and three assists of his own in the win. Justin Schwenk was phenomenal at the face off X, winning 25-of-34. With the win, Virginia is now 4-0 on the season and will take momentum into next Sunday’s game with Syracuse.
The Cavaliers outshot Tigers 48-43 and got 46 ground balls to Princeton’s 40. 43Princeton got on the board first by way of a Connor McCarthy goal, his first of the season, with 13:54 to play. Virginia won the first two face offs, but three turnovers in the first two minutes kept them from being able to execute any sort of long offensive possession. The Tigers made it 2-0 with 12:24 left in the first out of a time out as Emmet Cordrey pushed the ball past first year goalie Alex Rode.
First year Ian Laviano notched his 10th goal of the season with 11:14 left to close within one of the Tigers at 2-1. Rode notched his first save of the game, leading to a successful clear by Ryan Conrad. Laviano knotted the score at two with his second goal of the game, but the tie was short lived as Austin Sims found Riley Thompson on the doorstep who finished high on Rode.
The Tigers’ Chris Brown pushed Princeton’s lead back to two at 4-2 with 4:58 to play in the first quarter. Fifteen seconds later, Dox Aitken made the Princeton defense pay for leaving him too much room, making it 4-3. Mike D’Amario evened things back up at four at the 4:06 mark off of an assist from Regan Quinn.
Virginia took their first lead of the game after Michael Kraus got his defender stranded. Kraus rolled the crease, ducked inside his defender, and deposited the ball past Princeton keeper Tyler Blaisdell with just under three minutes to go. Schwenk won his ninth face off of the first quarter and Laviano’s third of the game pushed the Hoos ahead 6-4 at the 2:51 mark.
Princeton won the ensuing face off, just their second win in the quarter, and drew a myriad of flags on the Hoos. Sims took advantage of having two extra players on the field, scoring to make it 6-5 with 1:41 left in an exciting first half. Phillip Robertson tied it back up at six-all after Michael Sowers somehow threaded the needle to the crease.
Both goalies opened the second quarter with saves on their first defensive possessions. D’Amario put Virginia back ahead in style with a behind-the-back score off of an assist by Mikey Herring, his second assist of the game. Kraus followed that up with a five-hole score through the legs of Blaisdell to make it 8-6 with 10:12 to play in the first half. A broken play on the faceoff somehow led to a diving goal by Herring to make it 9-6 with 9:55 to play, but Princeton responded with a goal from LSM Andrew Song to close the gap back to two.
Another Virginia turnover, its sixth of the half, led to a fast break opportunity for the Tigers, making it 9-8 with 7:31 left in the second quarter. The Hoos were unable to corral the face off, and Cordrey got his second of the game to knot it up once again.
The Cavaliers re-took the lead on a perfect sequence as Rode saved a huge shot from Sims, found Dave Smith in stride, who dished it to Kraus for the goal. Cordrey’s third of the game sent both teams into the locker rooms at the half tied at 10.
Virginia won 17-of-22 first half face offs and edged out the Tigers 25-24 in shots and 24-20 in ground balls. Kraus and Laviano each had three goals in the first 30 minutes, and Rode had five saves.
Princeton was hit with a shot clock on their first possession of the second half, but Kyle Kology backed up an errant shot shortly after it was applied. Virginia was unable to take advantage, and Princeton would eventually go man-up for a minute on a questionable trip call. Zach Ambrosino deflected a pass, getting the ball to Rode who chucked it down field to escape pressure. Somehow, D’Amario came up with it, went one-handed for scoop pass to Kraus, who buried the man-down goal for the Hoos and the 11-10 lead.
Matt Moore, who had to leave the game in the first quarter for a shoulder injury, gave the Hoos a two-goal advantage once again after a solid fake with 7:14 remaining in the third quarter. Laviano notched his fourth of the game on a gorgeous assist by Quinn to make it 13-10 with just under six minutes to play in the third.
Virginia turned the ball over on a bad pass, and Robertson finished another quick-stick shot to make it 13-11 with just under four minutes left, but Conrad made it three goals again off of the next face off with an absolute bomb from outside. Sims connected with 13 seconds left on the clock in the third quarter to make it 14-12. Virginia won the next face off and Jared Conners went wide with two seconds left. On the reset, Laviano went right back to him, and Conners was true the second time around, giving the Hoos a 15-12 lead going into the final 15 minutes.
It was all Virginia over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter as the Hoos scored two dramatic goals. First, Moore faked out his defender, causing him to leap towards him trying to stop a shot that never came. Instead, Moore dished it to Aitken, who had the wherewithal to pass it right back to Moore who was now un-guarded. He finished with an outside rip. On the ensuing face off, Schwenk dove forward to flick the ball back to his teammate, who found Laviano. He, in turn, passed to a streaking Conners, who finished for his second of the game and giving the Hoos a 17-12 lead.
Princeton chipped into Virginia’s lead with 9:39 as Braedan Gait scored his first of the game for the Tigers. A slash on Moore gave the Tigers a man advantage for a minute, but Rode got his 10th save of the game on a low shot, leading to a Virginia clear and Laviano’s fifth of the game as the Princeton EMO drew to a close.
Schwenk won his 24th face off of the game with 5:15 left and the Hoos were able to burn some time off the clock before Princeton took advantage of a shot clock violation. A late penalty on Conners made things a little interesting, with a goal from Ryan Thompson to make it 18-15 with 43 seconds left.
Next up, Virginia welcomes Syracuse for their first ACC game of the season next Sunday.