The No. 13 Virginia men’s lacrosse team got a much-needed road and conference win on Saturday afternoon as the Cavaliers took down the No. 12 Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. With the win, Virginia moved to 3-2 on the season and got off to a great start in ACC play.
Saturday’s game was the latest in the series of dramatic UVA-Syracuse lacrosse games as the Orange held a slight advantage in games won (18-17) and goals scored (452-451). Thanks to a gutty performance in the fourth quarter, the Hoos have evened the tally at 18 games and 466 goals apiece.
The first 45 minutes of play featured a lot of close action as Syracuse got out to a 7-6 halftime lead and an 11-9 advantage after three quarters. With 10:02 remaining, Syracuse built their lead to four goals at 13-9. Things looked bleak for the Cavaliers, but the visiting squad didn’t cave or crumble.
Virginia rattled off six straight faceoff wins as the Cavaliers climbed back within striking distance. First, Dox Aitken notched his 80th career goal (and third of the day) in style as he finished a low-angle dive as the Syracuse defender shoved him to the ground from behind:
Just 34 seconds later, Matt Moore drilled an outside shot on an extra man opportunity to pull Virginia within two at 13-11. Virginia struggled incredibly in man-up situations on Saturday, converting just two of the nine opportunities in the Dome.
The Hoos got their third straight goal — this one from Ryan Conrad — with 5:36 to play in the fourth to apply more pressure to Syracuse. In perfect Virginia fashion, the Cavalier defense forced a shot clock violation on the Orange to give the offense a chance to build momentum. Conrad obliged, scoring his second of two goals in the game to go with his team-high seven ground balls.
Syracuse halted Virginia’s run with a man-down goal — yes, man-down — with 3:45 to play to re-establish a two goal lead. The Hoos won the ensuing face off, but Aitken’s shot was saved and Syracuse cleared the ball with a chance to burn more time off the clock. Virginia forced a turnover, starting a transition play that that ended in a goal for the Hoos. Jared Conners brought the ball over midfield, dishing it to Michael Kraus. Kraus drew two defenders and wisely dished back to Conners who finished for an easy and atypical long-pole goal.
LONG-POLE GOAL. Jared Conners. 14-13 Syracuse. pic.twitter.com/TCy8b3pfq0— Virginia Men's Lacrosse (@UVAMensLax) March 2, 2019
That’s Conners’ second goal of the season and he’s no stranger to the score sheet with six goals and six assists last season. Lars Tiffany likes to create mismatches on offense by keeping talented long poles on the offense before substitutions. The wherewithal of Conners to roll away after dishing the pass, and Kraus finding him again was impressive.
Now trailing by just one goal again, Virginia got a crucial face off win and a game tying goal from Kraus with just over a minute remaining. On the play, Kraus rolled the crease, driving his defender out to the 15-yard line before cutting back towards the cage. This gave him just enough breathing room to squeeze the ball inside the far pipe.
Syracuse’s second face off win of the quarter came with 1:09 to play, but the Virginia defense withstood a four-shot flurry to hold the tie and force overtime. Virginia got possession in the extra period thanks to a face off violation (ball got stuck in the stick) by Danny Varello. Kraus’s shot was saved, but the Hoos retained possession thanks to a push called on the Orange. Aitken and Moore both got good looks at the cage as the Hoos were unable to score on the EMO, and the shot clock was getting low.
Kraus once again was the key as he rolled the crease from right to left. He drew the attention two defenders (and the goalie) before a cross-crease pass to Herring. The Orange defense had to scramble, and Herring got a difficult shot off with three seconds left on the shot clock to secure the victory for Virginia.
“Michael Kraus did a great job dragging two guys, and we noticed that he was getting a shortstick on some of those picks,” Herring, told Inside Lacrosse after the game. “So I think when I saw two go there I thought why not it’s a great time.”
The goal was Herring’s first of the season, and couldn’t have come at a more dramatic time.
The Hoos had eight different goal scorers, led by Kraus with three goals and three assists. Aitken added three goals, and Conrad, Moore, and Ian Laviano all had two goals apiece. Virginia went with a two-goalie approach on Saturday with first year Patrick Burkinshaw (six saves, seven goals against) starting the first half, and second year Alex Rode (four saves, seven goals against) playing the second half and overtime.
Justin Schwenk and Petey LaSalla combined to go 16-for-30 at the face off X, winning 7-of-9 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Next up, Virginia hosts Brown on Sunday, March 10.
Check out the full highlights: