It’s Championship Sunday in Charlottesville as the Virginia men’s lacrosse team takes on Notre Dame for the ACC tournament title. The Hoos and Irish square off at noon at Klöckner Stadium. This is the first ACC title game for the Cavaliers since 2013 when they fell to UNC and would be Virginia’s first title since 2010.
Here’s everything you need to know before the first face off.
How We Got Here:
In the first semifinal, Notre Dame avenged their regular season 10-2 loss to Duke by actually scoring lots of goals and holding off a late Blue Devil rally. The Irish won 14-11, led by Ryder Garnsey with five goals and an assist. Brendan Gleason matched Garnsey’s six points with three goals and three assists, and Bryan Costabile added three goals and an assist in the win.
The Hoos took down Syracuse on Friday night in a tightly-contested game that saw Virginia emerge victorious 11-10. First year Matt Moore had a career-high four goals to go with an assist, and superstars Michael Kraus (two goals, three assists) and Dox Aitken (two goals, two assists) were impressive.
Check out the highlights:
Last Time They Met:
Virginia fell 9-7 on the road to Notre Dame back on St. Patrick’s Day. The Hoos held a 7-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but ND scored three unanswered to pick up the win. Kraus had four goals in the loss and Mikey Wynne matched his output with four for the Irish.
Notre Dame held a slim 10-9 advantage in the face offs and 7-6 in saves. Both teams had 15 turnovers, but the Cavaliers struggled on the clears, only successfully completing 12-of-18 (67%).
Keys to the Game:
Justin Schwenk vs. John Travisano
Schwenk absolutely crushed it for the Hoos on Friday, winning 16-of-23 and giving Virginia a huge advantage in the possession battle. That will be crucial again today as Notre Dame likes to suck the life out of the game and draw out possessions. Travisano won 9-of-15 he took last time out against Schwenk, and split time with teammate Charles Leonard in the semifinal against Duke.
Virginia vs. the Pace
I know, I know...the IRONY. Yes, a Virginia site is complaining bout somebody else’s pace of play. I stand by it. This is the battle of styles. Notre Dame lives their life basically daring the referees to hit them with a stall warning. Think West Virginia with the press...the refs can’t call a foul EVERY time, right ?
Virginia, on the other hand, embodies run-and-gun. The Hoos have to be careful in one-and-done situations that end in easy saves or turnovers.
Alex Rode vs. Ryder Garnsey (& Co.)
Another game, another emphasis on face offs and goalie play. Rode was solid (10 saves) against Syracuse, and he’ll need to do that (or more) against the Irish if the Hoos want to hoist the ACC Championship trophy. He only played the second half during the regular season matchup, allowing three fourth quarter goals and picking up three saves.
Garnsey didn’t score against Virginia in the last matchup, but he’s the hot hand and he’s a showboating type player. He’s quick and tricky with his stick, and you can expect Scott Hooper to spend some time on him defensively.
Michael Kraus vs. the Record Books
The Kraus assist watch is on. He is currently sitting at 40 goals and 36 assists on the season, needing just four assists to become the first ever Virginia men’s lacrosse player to score 40 goals and dish 40 assists in a season.
Think about that for a second. Of all the outstanding players to come through Charlottesville, none of them have done what Kraus is on the precipice of accomplishing. Not Tewaaraton Award winners Steele Stanwick or Matt Ward. Nor guys like Connor Gill or Danny Glading. Kraus is an outstanding player, and we’re lucky enough to get two more years of him.
Fourth year midfielder Cory Harris:
“Let’s go win a championship, boys!”
How to Watch:
Who: Virginia vs. Notre Dame
When: Sunday, 29 April, 12pm
Where: Klöckner Stadium, Charlottesville, Virginia
Streaming: Watch ESPN