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No. 8 Virginia bounces back with exciting victory over High Point

Kraus has ‘flu’ game with five goals and two assists in the win.

2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Cavaliers needed some late heroics, but the No. 8 Virginia men’s lacrosse team rallied for an exciting 18-15 win over the visiting High Point Panthers on Tuesday night. Fourth year Michael Kraus was fantastic with five goals and two assists, despite dealing with an illness. “First of all, what a huge effort by Michael Kraus,” head coach Lars Tiffany said after the game. “He didn’t practice yesterday with some sort of stomach bug, and we weren’t sure he was going to play at all today. For him to come out and score five goals and get a couple of assists was a big effort.”

Kraus always knew he would play, but the Cavaliers needed everything he brought to the field. “It was just like a stomach bug,” Kraus told Streaking the Lawn. “I knew I was going to be able to play no matter what. I was gonna try and try and give it a go.”

Virginia led by as many as five in the game, but found themselves in a 15-15 tie with 9:32 to play. Ian Laviano’s lone goal of the game put the Hoos ahead for good with just under three minutes left, and Kraus iced the game with two goals in the final 2:38 of the game.

The Cavaliers dominated in the game statistics, holding dramatic advantages in face-offs (25-10), ground balls (45-24), and shots (57-36). High Point did a better job taking advantage of Virginia’s 20 turnovers than the Hoos did with the Panthers’ 19, and HPU goalie notched 15 saves in the loss.

Payton Cormier added four goals and an assist, Matt Moore contributed two goals and five assists, and long stick midfielder Jared Conners had two goals, one assist, and two ground balls.

Alex Rode was fantastic between the pipes as he came up with 11 saves, including saves with 6:51 and 3:45 remaining in the game with the score knotted at 15.

With the win, Virginia improved to 3-1 and put Saturday’s loss to Princeton behind them.

High Point got off to a hot start as the visitors jumped out to a 4-1 lead with four straight goals after a Cormier score gave the Hoos the lead. Great ball movement by the Hoos led to a goal from the wing for Kraus, and Cormier brought Virginia back within one with an absolute rip to the top corner from outside.

Virginia had a chance to tie things up, but Moore ran into a double team and turned the ball over. Rode came up with a great save — his fourth of the first quarter — and first year Peter Garno wouldn’t let the opportunity pass again as he painted the bottom right corner for the 4-4 tie with 1:34 left in the first. Back-to-back goals from Virginia — Cormier’s third and Kraus’s second — capped off a five goal run to end the first quarter with the Cavaliers up 6-4.

Neither team could get onto the scoreboard in the second quarter until the 9:11 mark when Laviano found Jared Conners in transition on the crease for the Hoos’ seventh goal. Virginia’s aggressive ride forced the turnover that led to the goal.

High Point’s Devon Buckshot answered on the next possession with the Panthers’ first goal since the 7:09 mark of the first quarter. It didn’t take long, however, for Virginia to retake the three goal lead as Conners showed his versatility with a huge shot from outside.

Back-to-back goals from first year Peter Bienkowski and Cormier gave the Cavaliers a five-goal cushion at 10-5, but goals from Buckshot and Nolting allowed High Point to climb back within three with 2:31 left before the half. Virginia kept dominating at the face-off X, but ill-advised shots off the face-off break ended the offensive threat quickly.

Virginia led 10-7 at the half, led by Cormier’s four goals and Moore’s four assists. Rode had nine saves on 16 shots on goal for a 56.3% save percentage. After starting 0-for-3 from the X, LaSalla went 9-for-13 with five ground balls.

The Hoos opened the second half with goals from Aitken and Moore, sandwiched around scores from High Point that kept the Panthers within reach. Disaster struck when LaSalla was flagged for an illegal stick, sending him to the penalty box for three minutes, unreleasable.

High Point took advantage just 15 seconds in, closing within two at 12-10 with just under nine minutes remaining in the third. Justin Schwenk won the face off, allowing Virginia to burn about a minute off the penalty. It looked like the Hoos would go down further, but the Panthers were called for a crease violation before the flag or the goal.

Kraus netted his third of the game with 2:34 left in the third quarter, a much needed goal to give Virginia a little breathing room. Virginia followed it up with a horrible turnover in transition, letting High Point score an easy goal on the doorstep just 28 seconds later. Schwenk won the ensuing face-off, but launched the pass too high for another turnover.

The Panthers capitalized, with Nolting somehow finding his man on the far side of the crease to make it a one-goal game with 1:09 to play in the third. Another face off win for the Hoos ended with a save by High Point, and Buckshot got one to go to knot things at 13-13 with 0.01 left on the clock in the third.

Despite winning 7-of-8 face-offs in the third quarter, High Point outscored Virginia 6-3.

Moore put Virginia in front by one with an extra man rip, his second goal of the contest. Terrible time management at the end of a shot clock led to a fast restart for High Point, and the Panthers tied the game up yet again. Aitken gave Virginia a brief lead, but Buckshot took advantage of another broken play to even things up.

After 6:35 of scoreless play, Virginia got back-to-back goals from Laviano and Kraus to build a 17-15 lead with 2:38 left on the clock. After a smart double-team by the defense, Virginia had a chance to run out clock. Kraus netted a tough low-angle goal with :43 left, giving the Hoos a three-goal lead. A face-off win allowed the Hoos to run out the clock, securing the dramatic 18-15 win.

Buckshot finished with five goals and an assist for High Point, and Nolting added one goal and five assists.

Check out the full highlights here: