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No. 4 Virginia Men’s Lacrosse falls in heartbreaker to No. 12 Syracuse, 12-11

Goalie Alex Rode has 15 saves for the Hoos, who came back from down five in the 4th quarter.

Jaclyn Borowski

The Virginia men’s lacrosse team’s struggles with ACC foes continued today as the Hoos couldn’t overcome a sluggish start on offense, falling to No. 12 Syracuse, 12-11. Virginia lost midfielder Ryan Conrad to a knee injury in the first quarter, affecting the Hoos on both sides of the ball and at the face off X.

Alex Rode was phenomenal in cage for Virginia with 15 saves and a 56% save percentage, and Mike D’Amario had three goals for the Hoos. Virginia trailed by as many as five in the fourth quarter, rallying to tie the game on a Conners long stick goal with 1:41 to play. Tucker Dordevic notched the game winner with 12 seconds left, prolonging Virginia’s conference drought.

Virginia turned the ball over 19 times, and were edged 16-11 in face offs and 42-30 in shots. The Hoos are now 4-1 on the season, and start 0-1 in the ACC.

Syracuse opened the scoring off of a transition goal from Tyler Ford with 12:08 remaining in the first quarter after Laviano had his stick checked cleanly out of his hand. Ryan Conrad evened the score 11 seconds later, grabbing the ground ball off the face off and taking himself to the cage.

Michael Kraus gave the Hoos their first lead of the game with just under 10 minutes left in the first quarter as he rolled the crease and put one past Cuse keeper Dom Madonna. Laviano extended Virginia’s lead at the 6:33 mark with an extra man goal. The score was his 15th goal of the season.

The Orange pulled within one at 3-2 with 4:43 left in the first on an underhand finish from Bradley Voigt. Virginia was unable to corral the ground ball on the ensuing face off, but Rode came up with his third save of the game to turn away the Orange. A scary moment for the fans on the next clear for the Hoos as superstar midfielder Conrad went down on the field with an injury, but he was able to walk off the field.

With Conrad on the bench, Syracuse worked the ball around and Tucker Doyle was able to knot the score at three with 2:18 to go in the first quarter. After a violation on the face off, the Orange re-took the lead on a shot that Rode initially stopped, but trickled past the first year keeper.

Five seconds later, off a face off violation by Syracuse, Aitken evened the score back up, calling his own number and ripping the shot past Madonna. At the end of the first quarter, the two ACC squads were - fittingly, given their history - tied at four.

Syracuse got on the board first in the second quarter thanks to a long-pole goal from Brett Kennedy off of an illegal pick call against the Hoos. Rode came up with a save which was matched by Madonna down the other end, and Kennedy got his second straight goal to put the Orange up two with 11:26 to play before the half.

The Orange had a man-up opportunity after a holding call on Zach Ambrosino, but Rode came up with a big save. Aitken pulled the Hoos back to within one at 6-5 at the 8:42 mark of the second quarter with his second goal of the game. Virginia got two great looks back to back from first years Laviano and Matt Moore, but the first hit the crossbar and the second was saved, leading to a clear for Syracuse.

Tucker Dordevic pushed Syracuse’s cushion back to two goals with 3:15 to play after the Hoos were unable to come up with an equalizer despite several opportunities. Neither team would score in the final three plus minutes of the half, giving the Orange a 7-5 advantage at the break.

Aitken led the Hoos with two first half goals, and Dordevic and Kennedy each had two for the Orange. Virginia turned the ball over 10 times to Syracuse’s four over the first 30 minutes, and the Orange won two more face offs, 8-6. The Hoos only shot the ball 16 times, barely testing Madonna, who only had four saves. Rode had seven saves in the first half, facing 24 shots from Syracuse.

Dordevic got his third goal of the game to open scoring just :55 into the second half, putting the Hoos in a three goal hole of the game. The Orange were called for a trip on the ensuing face off, giving the Hoos an extra man opportunity for a minute. Virginia was unable to capitalize, but Rode came up with a stick save that gave the Hoos a clear. Emery mishandled a pass, giving the Orange another opportunity but Rode came through again.

The Orange had an extra man opportunity on a hold by Scott Hooper, but the Hoos killed it to get back to all even on the field. Cuse worked the ball around, finding Voigt for a quick stick that put the visitors up by four with 6:36 to play in the third quarter.

Every time Virginia had an opportunity to chip into the Syracuse lead, they’d turn the ball over or shoot it directly at Madonna for the easy save. The third quarter ended with Syracuse scoring just one goal, leading 9-5 going into the final 15 minutes.

Rode came up with a huge save and hit midfielder John Fox in stride, but Fox was unable to corral the ball and Cuse pushed their lead to five goals with 12:54 to play. The Orange won the next face off, but an unforced error gave Virginia an opportunity and Laviano capitalized to make it 10-6 with 12:40 left. A long scrum ensued on the next face off, but first year walk on Kyle Kology connected with first year defender Will Rock, who found Kraus for the goal to close back within three.

Virginia’s momentum was killed as Trimboli scored his second goal in the fourth quarter, this one on a man up goal with 10:34 left after a called slash on Jared Conners. Mike D’Amario closed the Hoos back to within three with 10:03 left. A big save by Rode - his 13th of the game - led to another D’Amario goal, bringing the Hoos within two at 11-9 with 7:29 to play.

D’Amario wasn’t done yet, pulling the trigger from about 15 yards out, sneaking a worm burner past Madonna to make it 11-10 with 6:41 remaining. Syracuse won the next face off and Hooper caused a turnover, but the Orange got it back on the doorstep. Things looked dire, but Rode came up with an enormous kick save to give Virginia a chance to tie the game. Aitken scored, but it ricocheted out, and the refs missed it.

Rode came up huge again, and Conners tied it on an absolute rip from outside in transition with 1:41 to play. Syracuse won the next face off and Virginia knocked the ball loose, but the Orange picked it up on the crease. It looked as though Cuse had regained the advantage with 41 seconds left, but Orange head coach John Desko called a timeout before the goal.

Dordevic bailed out his head coach with 13 seconds left, connecting on his fourth of the day to give the Orange the win.

There were some fireworks to end the game as Syracuse’s Nate Solomon cheap-shotted Rode on a last-ditch clear attempt, sending him to the ground. Virginia’s Matt Dziama took exception to the hit, giving Solomon a shoulder check as the teams crossed paths, which led to some shoving and his teammate Zach Ambrosino drawing a second flag to go with Solomon’s. Both Solomon and Ambrosino were ejected, which could lead to a one game suspension.

Next up, Virginia hits the road to play Manhattan in the Bronx on Wednesday night.