Two fourth year players led the way for the Cavaliers as Virginia Men’s Lacrosse punched their ticket to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament with a dominating 19-10 win over Robert Morris. The game was never in doubt as Virginia never trailed and took a 9-5 lead into the half.
Fourth years Ryan Conrad (five goals) and Mikey Herring (six goals) cruised offensively for Virginia, both setting new career highs in goals and points. Matt Moore finished with two goals and a new career high in assists with seven.
Michael Kraus added three goals and three assists in the game, and Dox Aitken notched two goals. Justin Schwenk was fantastic at the face off X, winning 22-of-28 and helping the Hoos pull away even further in the second half.
Virginia’s defense was disruptive and kept the Colonials uncomfortable all night, holding Robert Morris well below their season average of 13.69 goals per game. On the occasions Virginia didn’t score, the attack made life miserable for RMU and forced them into a clear rate of 69%.
It took until the 7:18 mark of the first quarter for either team to score as Moore took advantage of a broken clear to find the back of the net and give Virginia a lead. The Hoos would build a 3-0 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter before Robert Morris would get its first goal thanks to a take off the face off. A Laviano rebound put-back gave Virginia a three-goal lead once again, but the Colonials’ second goal cut the advantage in half.
Robert Morris goalkeeper Alex Heger notched five first quarter saves, some of which were spectacular, as the Hoos peppered him with 15 shots.
Virginia needed just 22 seconds to get on the board in the second quarter to make it a 5-2 lead. Conrad got things started off the face off with a heads-up flip to Jared Conners, who in turn dished it to Laviano on the wing. Instead of getting off a good shot, he found Kraus across the crease. Kraus ducked inside two defenders and got off a great shot for the score.
Another from Kraus — his third of the game — extended the lead, and a take from Herring made it 7-2 with 12:26 left in the half. Robert Morris got on the board in the second quarter with 11:41 on the clock to cut Virginia’s lead back to four. Rode’s second save of the game got the ball back to the Hoos, and Ryan Conrad made them pay when the Colonials gave him time and room to make it 8-3.
RMU and Virginia traded goals before another from the Colonials off of a lucky bounce in transition made it 9-5 with 2:43 remaining in the half. Virginia would hold for the final shot of the half, but couldn’t convert and the two teams would hit the locker room with the home team holding a four-goal advantage.
Kraus led Virginia with three goals and two assists, with Conrad and Herring each adding two goals apiece in the first half. The Hoos outshot the Colonials 33-13 and Virginia won 12 of 16 face offs. Rode had three saves in the first half, but his counterpart for RMU kept things from being a complete runaway with 10 first half saves.
Rode opened the second half with a save, and Dox Aitken connected on a bouncer to double up the Colonials at 10-5 with 13:19 left in the third. After forcing a turnover on the clear, Virginia got the ball back and Herring ended the possession with his third goal of the game. Aitken hit the deck due to the wet grass, but kept his composure and flicked the ball to Kraus, who found Herring with his third assist (sixth point) of the game.
Robert Morris got one back with crisp passing and a point-blank shot to make it 11-6 with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter. The Colonials had a chance for back-to-back goals with a minute man-advantage, but John Fox got a check in that disrupted the shot and gave Rode a chance for an easy pick up.
Conrad, who earned the minute in the penalty box on the previous possession, got redemption with his third goal of the game to make it 12-6 with 6:21 to play in the third quarter. On the ensuing face off, Conrad snagged his sixth ground ball of the game and took it to the cage for another score and a seven-goal lead.
After an empty possession, RMU worked to clear the ball. As an outlet pass was made near midfield, Fox sold out for the ball with a diving check that sent the ball out of bounds and gave possession to the Hoos with just under one minute remaining in the quarter. Herring made the most of Fox’s play by scoring his fourth of the game, keeping up with fellow senior Conrad on the goal sheet.
Back-to-back goals from Herring gave him six goals in the game and Virginia a dominating 16-7 lead with 11:13 left in the game. Conrad converted a pass from Moore for his fifth of the game, giving UVA a 10-goal lead. RMU’s eighth goal of the game got the deficit back to single digits with 9:41 to play.
The Hoos would add two more goals in the fourth quarter and gave up just two to the Colonials to close out the game.
Virginia now moves on to face the winner of No. 6 seed Towson and Maryland. The quarterfinals take place on Saturday, May 18 in Hempstead, NY, and will be televised on ESPNU (noon or 2:30pm).