In a relatively low scoring affair, the Virginia Cavaliers took care of business against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 12-8 to advance to 7-1 on the season and 3-0 in the ACC. Connor Shellenberger led the way offensively with a hat-trick and two assists while goalie Mathew Nunes was clutch with 12 saves.
UVA opened the scoring on the first possession as Payton Cormier dodged from up top against a short-stick and his shot ricocheted off a player on the crease and found its way into the net.
The Irish answered with a goal on their first possession as well following a Virginia hold that resulted in an Eric Dobson step-down rip to tie the game at one apiece.
The ‘Hoos quickly took the lead back as LaSalla won his second face-off and Jeff Conner dodged up the right wing to feed a far-post cutting Xander Dickson. A Connor Shellenberger goal on a question mark move a few minutes later meant that UVA had built itself a 3-1 lead at the 8:02 mark in the first quarter.
Each team traded stops in the middle part of the first period before Conner exploited a reckless Notre Dame closeout to dodge topside and rip a high bouncer past Notre Dame goalie Liam Entenmann.
A Griffin Schutz twister shot off a left wing alley dodge gave the ‘Hoos a four-goal lead. That was put under significant threat by three Wahoo penalties within a one-minute stretch that meant UVA had to defend two-men down for two stretches and one-man down for another. Nevertheless, freshman goalie Nunes and the Wahoo defense held strong and forced a stop that was huge for momentum.
In fact, Virginia held the Irish scoreless for 26:49 of gameplay until Reilly Gray scored with 51 seconds left to make the score 6-2, Wahoos as a second Schutz twister goal at the 9:40 mark had made it a five-point affair.
The electric Pat Kavanagh got himself on the board just 41 seconds into the second half. UVA answered in short order as Shellenberger tallied his second point on a sweet crease feed to Xander Dickson who turned and ripped the ball into the top corner. That put Virginia up 7-3 with 13:14 eft in the third quarter.
Shellenberger continued to take on more offensive usage as the quarter progressed as he scored his second of the game on a lefty shot after a dodge from X up the left wing. Similar to the first quarter, a defensive battle ensued for most of the third.
A near eight minute stretch without any goals ended on another Shellenberger tally. This time, he finished with his right hand after absorbing contact, falling down, getting up, and placing the ball in the bottom right corner.
Notre Dame’s Quin McCahon scored in transition of an assist from the goalie Entenmann kept the game interesting as the score sat at 9-4 at the conclusion of the third quarter.
The Wahoo defense remained incredibly stout into the fourth. Nunes made incredible save after incredible save as he stuffed the Irish on the doorstep a number of times. His play and that of Quentin Matsui and Cole Kastner against Notre Dame’s Pat and Chris Kavanagh allowed the Virginia offense leeway to go quiet at times.
With Lars Tiffany’s defense playing as it was, two additional goals when Matt Moore and Shellenberger each found cutters on the crease put Virginia up 11-4 and essentially put the game on ice.
Notre Dame did score three pointless goals against UVA’s backups in the last 1:08 of play, but an Evan Zinn clearing goal on an empty Irish net was the final nail in the coffin and Virginia pulled out the 12-8 victory.