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Virginia soars past Air Force, 15-5

Birthday boy Payton Cormier finishes with three goals.

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

The No. 8 Virginia Cavalier men’s lacrosse team kept rolling on Sunday afternoon, picking up a 15-5 win over the visiting Falcons from the Air Force Academy. Virginia got a balanced attack as Payton Cormier and Michael Kraus each scored three goals. Three other Cavaliers — Peter Garno, Matt Moore, and Ian Laviano — added two goals apiece in the win. Second year Jeff Conner led the Hoos with four assists.

Air Force, which opened its season with a win at Duke, struggled to get into much on a rhythm on offense. The Falcons had 19 turnovers in the game — 11 of which were caused by Virginia — and only took 28 shots. Virginia goalkeeper Alex Rode was solid in cage, saving 78% and notching seven saves with two goals against.

With the win, Virginia improved to 4-1 on the season.

After the opening goal from Garno was answered by one from Air Force’s Trey Lervick, the Hoos rattled off four straight goals to build a 5-1 advantage. Kraus, Bienkowski, and Laviano (x2) had goals in the run, including this beauty from the first year, Bienkowski:

The Cavalier defense was flagged for two penalties, sending Rode to the box for an illegal body check and short stick defensive midfielder Chris Merle to the sin bin for a check. Air Force capitalized on the two-man advantage, as Lervick scored his second of the game to stop the Virginia run with 10:17 left in the second quarter.

Both teams traded goals as Cormier joined the scoring party before Ethan Grandolfo notched one for the Falcons. Garno’s second of the game put the Hoos up 7-3, and midfielder Jeff Conner rounded out the first half scoring to give Virginia a five goal lead at the break.

The third quarter was all Virginia as the Hoos outscored Air Force 4-0 to build a 12-3 lead heading into the final stanza. Virginia’s defense held the Falcons to just eight shots in the quarter, with only four on cage.

Cormier, Kraus, and Moore (x2) found pay dirt in the third. The second of Moore’s goals was an absolute beauty as the third year eluded several defenders and finished with a swooping sidearm shot.

Cormier, who was celebrating his birthday, notched the hat trick with a rip from outside to put the Hoos up 10 to start the fourth quarter. Dox Aitken’s first score of the game followed on an extra man possession, and Kraus made it 15-3 with just under nine minutes to play.

Tiffany decided to give Rode a break in the fourth, putting in Miles Thompson. The second year immediately came up with a stop, keeping Air Force off the board in the second half and turning away the Falcons’ first shot on goal of the quarter.

Air Force broke its 32+ minute scoring drought with 3:17 remaining in the game as Brandon Dodd put one past first year David Roselle. The Falcons cut the deficit to 10 with another quick goal as Coach Tiffany got burn for players deep on his bench.

Up next, Virginia hits the road for the first time this season as they head to Brown for a game on Sunday, March 8. The game is set for a noon face off and will be available to stream on ESPN+.