Sunday afternoon at 3pm, the No. 4 Virginia Men’s Lacrosse team will play in their 1,000th program game. The Hoos welcome a familiar foe to Charlottesville for the momentous game in No. 12 Syracuse, a team that has a rich history with the Cavaliers. This will be the 34th meeting of the two squads, with Syracuse holding a slim 17-16 advantage. The two are separated by just one goal all-time, with the Orange outscoring the Hoos 430-429.
Syracuse has won the last three matchups, with the last two both being decided by one goal with a 14-13 final score. Virginia has struggled in ACC play with their last conference victory coming in 2014, 17-12, against Syracuse in Charlottesville (yes, sadly that’s true).
This season, the Hoos have started hot at 4-0 with wins over No. 13 Loyola (now up to No. 9), and No. 18 Princeton. Syracuse (2-1) is coming off a triple overtime win against Army, and was crushed 15-3 by now-No. 1 Albany at the Carrier Dome.
Let’s see how the Hoos matchup with the Orange.
Syracuse on Offense
The Orange come into today’s game averaging 11.7 goals and 36 shots per game. Brendan Bomberry leads Syracuse in both goals (six) and points (nine), and fellow attackmen Nate Solomon and Stephen Rehfuss have five and four goals, respectively.
Bomberry is a creative scorer and can do a lot with a little space, as shown with this goal to tie things with Army:
Brendan Bomberry between the legs pic.twitter.com/4EkMjpesKr— Inside Lacrosse (@Inside_Lacrosse) February 24, 2018
In the midfield, the Jamie Trimboli is Syracuse’s biggest threat with four goals and two assists on the season so far. Scott Hooper will likely matchup on Bomberry and Virginia’s defense played one of their best halves of the season last outing in the second half against Princeton. First years Kyle Kology and Will Rock have had active sticks, disrupting passing lanes and have caused 11 turnovers this season combined.
Syracuse on Defense
We chatted with our friends over at Nunes Magician about this matchup, and they spoke highly of the Orange defense. Syracuse is giving up an average of 9.7 goals per game, which is good for 22nd in the NCAA. Brett Kennedy, Nick Mellen, and Marcus Cunningham got the starting nod at close defense against Army, and the trio has a combined five caused turnovers on the season. Tyson Bomberry started the first two games of the season, but an injury kept him out of the last game.
Mellen and T. Bomberry (if he plays) are quick players, which could make it difficult for the Virginia offense to dodge against. Virginia comes into today’s game averaging 15.5 goals per game, good for fourth in the NCAA. First year Ian Laviano leads the team in goals scored with 14, and Michael Kraus has . 10 goals and eight assists for a team-leading 18 points.
The Virginia midfield is very dangerous with Dox Aitken (nine goals), Matt Moore (six goals, two assists), and Ryan Conrad (three goals, three assists). Throw in the crafty Mike D’Amario (seven goals), and the Hoos are potent on attack.
Just like every other big game, this will come down to possessions. Both teams are capable of scoring, so possession will be key. At the face off X, Monmouth transfer Justin Schwenk has been incredible for the Hoos, going 72-for-108 (67%) through the first four games. Conversely, Syracuse has gone 14-for-48 over their last two games, winning just 29% of the face offs.
To be fair, Cuse had to go against TD Ierlan of Albany, who is one of the best in the county. On the season, Syracuse’s main face off man, Danny Varello, has won 54% of his attempts.
In the cage for the Orange, Dom Madonna has started all three games and is giving up 10 goals per game with a 44% save percentage.
Virginia will likely stick with first year Alex Rode, who got his first start last game against Princeton. Rode has a 50% save percentage in cage and is allowing 11 goals per game. He is creative in cage and has been electric on clear opportunities.