The Virginia Cavaliers opened ACC competition with a statement 20-11 win over the Syracuse Orange. The ‘Hoos were better in every phase of the game and — despite a few runs from the Orange — were in control all game long.
Connor Shellenberger led the way for Virginia with his three goals and four assists. Meanwhile, three other Wahoos also recorded hat-tricks as Matt Moore, Payton Cormier, and Griffin Schutz each finished with three goals each.
Freshman goalie Mathew Nunes was stellar again as he finished with 15 saves while allowing 11 goals for a solid .577 save percentage. His fellow specialist, Petey LaSalla exorcised his demons at the faceoff X against Syracuse from last season, closing the game at 19/28 (67.8%) with five ground balls.
After scoring just three goals in the first quarters of the first three games, the Wahoos burst out of the gate against ‘Cuse, building an 8-1 lead by the end of the first 15 minutes. The ‘Hoos were dominant in every phase of the game early on.
Matt Moore and Griffin Scutz each had a pair of tallies in the first quarter while short stick defensive midfielder Jack Peele got in on the action with a scrappy goal off a ground ball. A sweet dodge and score from Will Cory with four seconds left in the first closed out the dominant first quarter for Virginia.
Syracuse woke up a bit in the second quarter, scoring two quick goals to pull the Orange back within five. But, two slick finishes from Payton Cormier off of Xander Dickson assists and a Connor Shellenberger low-angle rip stretched the deficit back up to eight goals.
Two scores from Syracuse meant that the game sat at 11-5 at halftime.
The Orange fired back to open the second half with a 4-1 run that cut the Wahoo lead to three goals at the 7:36 mark in the third. Brendan Curry’s first goal of the game lit up the Syracuse sideline as the momentum appeared to shift away from Virginia.
But the ‘Hoos responded fantastically with a ridiculous 7-0 run. Jack Simmons got the party started with two straight goals, one of which came in transition while he finished through contact on the second. Evan Zinn followed those goals up with his own in transition to pull Virginia back up by six goals.
The game was all Virginia from that pint onwards. Shellenberger notched his first hat-trick of the still new season as he scored two in a row. His second came off a fluky bounce with 11 seconds left in the third quarter right before Petey LaSalla won the faceoff and stormed his way down the field to score five seconds before the end of the period.
The fourth quarter was a simple affair for the ‘Hoos. After a crowd-pleasing Noah Chizmar goal in transition at the 6:41 mark, Virginia essentially called it a day and ran out the clock to win their fourth game of the season and the first in conference competition.