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No. 6 Virginia gets hard fought win over No. 15 Army, 14-9

Hoos move to 2-0 on the season.

NCAA LACROSSE: MAY 27 NCAA Lacrosse Championships Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There was a snowy backdrop and the game took place on Virginia’s lower practice turf, but the No. 6 Cavaliers were able to (successfully!) host the No. 15 Army Black Knights in a late-scheduled (and re-scheduled) game on Sunday afternoon. The Cavaliers used a 7-2 scoring run across the middle of the game to take down Army, 14-9.

First year Bobby Gavin got the surprise start over Alex Rode in cage, and finished with an impressive 12 saves, 57% save percentage, six ground balls, and two caused turnovers. It’s unclear why Gavin got the nod over Rode, but the San Diego native stepped up and got more comfortable as the game progressed.

Offensively, Virginia got multi-goal games from Payton Cormier (three goals, two assists), Matt Moore (three goals), Ian Laviano (two goals, one assist), and Peter Garno (two goals). Charlie Bertrand and Connor Shellenberger each added one goal and two assists in the win.

The Virginia ride put huge pressure on Army on clears, as the Knights went just 10-for-19 on successful clears. The Cavaliers caused 10 turnovers, with Laviano leading the team with three. Jared Conners and Gavin both had two caused turnovers in the game.

Virginia won 16-of-25 face offs (64%), led by Petey LaSalla going 12-of-16 (75%). LaSalla led the Hoos with nine ground balls as Virginia dominated on the ground with 46 ground balls to Army’s 26.

Virginia held a slim 5-4 lead after the first quarter thanks to goals from five different scorers. Ian Laviano, Matt Moore, and Dox Aitken all scored their first goals of the season in the first quarter, with Payton Cormier and Peter Garno rounding out the Virginia scoring. Army got on the board first, but the Cavaliers responded with three straight to take a 3-1 lead. After the Black Knights cut it back to a one-goal lead, Virginia answered with to straight to keep a three-goal lead before back-to-back Army goals to end the quarter.

LaSalla dominated at the face off X in the first quarter, winning eight of nine.

Neither team could convert in the second quarter after a high-flying first until Moore’s second of the game gave Virginia a 6-4 lead with 4:12 to play in the first half.

Charlie Bertrand found Cormier with 2:46 remaining as the Hoos pushed their lead back to three. With 1.1 seconds left on the clock in the first half, Cormier’s third goal of the game doubled up Army 8-4.

Cormier’s three goals led Virginia through the first 30 minutes, with Moore adding two scores. LaSalla won 9-of-12 face offs in the first half, and Virginia had 28 ground balls to Army’s nine.

Gavin opened the second half with his fifth save of the game, turning away the Knights and giving Virginia a chance to build its lead further. After a turnover by Shellenberger, the Hoos forced a turnover of their own and Laviano’s second goal of the game put Virginia on top by five.

The Black Knights ended a 17:48 scoring drought with a goal from Brendan Nichtern, cutting Virginia’s lead to 9-5 with 12:26 to play in the third quarter. Two more saves from Gavin ended another Army scoring threat, and Virginia went man-up for 30 seconds after Nichtern was called for a push. The Cavaliers were unable to score on the man advantage, but Shellenberger found Peter Garno for an outside rip — his second of the game — as Virginia once again doubled up the Knights on the scoreboard.

Moore connected on a bouncer from JPJ, giving Virginia an 11-5 lead.

An Army goal cut the advantage back to five with just under three minutes left in the third quarter. For the second straight game, Shellenberger converted an easy goal after the Virginia ride forced a turnover. Virginia would take that 12-6 lead into the fourth quarter, allowing just two goals in the third quarter while putting up four of their own.

Much like the third quarter, Gavin came up with a big save to open the fourth that led to a low-to-high goal from Xander Dickson on the other end. After a quiet stretch by both squads, Army cut the deficit back to six with an extra-man goal with 8:43 left to play. Another penalty on the Hoos led to another Army goal as the Black Knights made it 13-8 to keep the pressure on the home team.

Bertrand had a shot hit the post and then the Hoos were flagged for two more penalties, giving Army a chance to cut further into the lead. Gavin was up to the task, however, notching his 10th and 11th saves of the game to keep the lead at five. Virginia’s offense couldn’t convert, and Army managed to get its ninth goal of the game with 2:38 remaining. Bertrand closed out all of the scoring with his first goal of the game with 58 seconds left to play.

Next up, Virginia travels to face Loyola on February 20. The game is scheduled for 5pm and will be broadcast on ESPN+.