The Virginia Cavalier Men’s Lacrosse team is looking to take home it’s sixth NCAA title as the Hoos face the reigning champion Yale Bulldogs. Virginia’s last trip to the NCAA title game ended with the program’s fifth championship as the Hoos took down Maryland 9-7 in 2011.
How To Watch
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Keys to the Game
Face offs, face offs, face offs - This truly could be all three keys. It’s going to be that important. Yale’s TD Ierlan is the most proficient face off man in the country, winning an absolutely absurd 76% of his attempts (375-of-495). He wins them primarily to himself with 282 ground balls on the season, and gives Yale the possessions they need to take early leads on opponents.
In this tournament alone, Yale jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Georgetown by the 8:05 mark of the first quarter in the opening round and shocked top-seeded Penn State with a 10-2 advantage by the end of the first quarter in the semifinals. Once Georgetown settled, they outscored the Bulldogs 16-12 the final 51 minutes of the game, but by then it was too late.
When you get the ball, the Bulldogs are susceptible. Goalie Jack Starr let in 17 goals against the Nittany Lions with just five saves and has a season save average of 46%.
Petey LaSalla has been fantastic this season, especially in the late-game situations in the recent matchups. He’s won 60% of his face offs on the season, and will be in for a real test.
Goalie play - Alex Rode was fantastic against Duke, matching a career high with 19 saves. His first half performance kept the Hoos in the game until the offense could get into gear, and he has to get off to a quick start again today (see: face offs, above). Yale has very good attackmen, led by a trio of players with 40+ goals in Jackson Morrill, Matt Brandau, and Matt Gaudet.
Virginia attack - The Hoos got off to a sluggish start against Duke, but the weapons are there for Virginia. Matt Moore (42 goals, 42 assists) needs just two points to tie Doug Knight’s single-season points record for Virginia (86, 1996). Ian Laviano ripped four goals in the semis (including the game winner) and Michael Kraus dished four assists to go with his one goal.
Then there’s midfielders Ryan Conrad and Dox Aitken. The two can do it all, and Virginia will need every ounce of it.