Possession was the difference in the game as the No. 9 Syracuse Orange dominated at the face off X to cruise to a 20-10 win over the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday night. The Orange won 22-of-33 face offs (67%) and peppered Virginia goalie Alex Rode with 55 shots. Rode, who was unavailable the last two games, finished with 18 saves.
Virginia will have a chance at revenge later this season when Syracuse comes to Charlottesville on April 24.
Ian Laviano led Virginia with three goals, but the Syracuse did a fantastic job limiting Dox Aitken (zero goals, zero shots) and Matt Moore (one assist, 10 shots). Connor Shellenberger, Charlie Bertrand, and Payton Cormier each had two goals as the Cavaliers were limited to three second half goals and six goals below their season average.
Both teams finished with 12 turnovers, but Syracuse caused 10 in the game as they took a page out of Virginia’s book and disrupted clears. Virginia finished 18-for-23 on clears, but also struggled on successful clears to get across midfield easily. The Orange handled Virginia’s 10-man ride well, taking advantage with multiple unsettled transition goals.
The Orange scored the first two goals of the game, but Virginia responded with four straight to take a 4-2 lead. Laviano got the first Virginia, ripping a low-to-low burner that went past keeper Drake Porter. Cormier tied things up at 2-2 exactly two minutes later after midfielder Danny Parker made a heads up play to find his teammate in transition after a face off win. Shellenberger and Bertrand both took advantage of having a short-stick defender on them to one-on-one go to the goal for the third and fourth scores.
Syracuse ended the scoring drought with another shot from outside, pulling the Orange within one with 6:13 left in the first quarter. Bertrand’s second goal of the game pushed Virginia’s lead back to two as the Merrimack transfer took on Syracuse’s best defender and easily beat him for the score. Brendan Curry cut it back to a one-goal game with 16 seconds left in the quarter, and the Cavaliers led 5-4 at the end of one.
The Orange tied things at five after an extended possession that had multiple shot clock resets and took the lead just over a minute later. Syracuse pushed their lead to 7-5 with four straight goals before Cormier took on a crowd and finished in front of the cage to pull within one with 5:52 left in the first half. Laviano tied things with a garbage goal out front, but Owen Seebold took advantage of a questionable withholding call to give the Orange a one-goal lead yet again.
Virginia had a shot hit the post and another hit the goalie, giving Syracuse a fast break opportunity before the half that put the Orange up 9-7. A face off violation call gave Cuse a 30-second man-up opportunity with :26 left in the second quarter. Virginia’s defense held strong, and Cuse wasn’t even able to get a shot off.
Laviano, Cormier, and Bertrand each had two goals apiece in the first half, with Shellenberger adding Virginia’s seventh. LaSalla struggled at the X, winning just 7-of-18 and being called for three violations in the first half. Rode gave up nine goals, but got 10 saves on 32 shots faced. Virginia struggled in the clearing game as Syracuse turned the tables on them. The Hoos went just 7-for-11 on clears, and had seven first-half turnovers.
Virginia started the second half with the ball, but immediately turned it over and Syracuse pushed in transition for a goal just 13 seconds into the third quarter. Shellenberger halted the Orange run with a tough finish, making it 10-8 in favor of Syracuse. Syracuse continued dominating at the face off X, and the Orange built a five goal lead at 13-8 with back-to-back scores.
The Cavaliers got on the board again with an extra-man goal from Laviano, and defenseman Scott Bower cut the deficit to three with a long-pole goal off of the ensuing face off. Rode came up with a big transition save, but the ricochet went all the way out to a Syracuse player who took advantage of the unsettled situation to keep the Orange up by four with 4:02 remaining in the third.
Two more transition goals by the Orange gave the home team the 16-10 advantage heading into the final 15 minutes of play. Syracuse scored two straight in the fourth quarter to make it an eight-goal lead, and Virginia wouldn’t get any closer over the final stretch of the game.
Next up, Virginia hosts High Point on Wednesday, March 3, at 3pm. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.