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Virginia lacrosse overcomes slow early play to beat Air Force 21-11

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship Photo by Larry French/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers pulled out a 21-11 win over Air Force in the opening contest in UVA’s quest for a three-peat.

The ‘Hoos started the game sloppily with a number of faceoff violations from Petey LaSalla which stunted the UVA offense’s opportunities to get in an early rhythm. A few solid saves from freshman goalie Matthew Nunes kept Air Force off the boar at first. But, as Virginia’s clearing game was sloppy and the offense took a few ill-advised shots, the Falcons broke through and built up a 3-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Eventually, Virginia got on the board as Connor Shellenberger found a cutting Griffin Schutz on the backside to make the score 3-1. The redshirt sophomore tallied another assists just 36 seconds later as Xander Dickson scored his first of four goals on the afternoon.

Shellenberger’s superior vision would be a them of Virginia’s outburst as he finished with five assists on the day and truly ignited the Wahoo attack. His two goals gave him seven points total as the reigning Final Four MVP and potential best player in college lacrosse made his presence felt often.

Matt Moore got in on the action as well as he found Johns Hopkins transfer Evan Zinn to tie the game up at three apiece with 12:43 left in the second quarter. Air Force responded with a quick two-goal burst, but after that the game was all Virginia.

By the end of the second quarter the score stood at 10-6, Wahoos after Petey LaSalla put an exclamation point on UVA’s 7-3 run with a dodge from X and score with just three seconds left in the half.

The third quarter was much of the same for the ‘Hoos as Xander Dickson and Payton Cormier in particular dominated on offense, scoring three each in the fifteen minute time span. Shellenberger’s second goal off a sweet move from behind the cage meant that the score stood at 17-6 heading into the final period of play.

With each team’s backups in for the entire fourth period, each squad trade tallies until the final horn sounded and Virginia left the field with the 21-11 victory.