As a general rule of thumb, any scenario that messes with the status quo typically favorites the underdog. The first quarter of the Virginia Cavaliers men’s lacrosse team’s NCAA Tournament first round contest against Richmond was played without interference. Consequently, UVA took a 5-2 lead after the first fifteen minutes. But, lightning in the area sent both teams into the locker rooms and fans back to their cars for thirty minutes.
After the weather delay, the skies opened up and rain poured down on Klöckner in torrential fashion, leaving the field and everyone on it soaked. The puddles which built up on either end of the field were significant while finding footing on the natural grass became obviously difficult.
Such conditions initially gave the Spiders a boost. After fewer than 90 seconds of play in what resembled a water park more than it did a lacrosse field, a failed Virginia clear resulted in Richmond’s third goal of the game. Shellenberger answered that tally with the first of his afternoon, but another Spider goal roughly three minutes later brought the deficit back to just two goals. Halfway through the second quarter, this game looked set to be a 60 minute nail biter.
However, in response to Richmond’s fourth score, the Cavalier offense quickly went about snuffing any hopes the Spiders had with a four goal spurt to close the first half of play. A pair of Matthew Nunes saves kept things clean on defense while Cormier, Shellenberger, Griffin Schutz, and short stick defensive midfielder Noah Chizmar all found the back of the net before the conclusion of the second quarter to head back into the locker room with a 10-4 advantage.
From that point part of the way through the second quarter and onwards, the Cavaliers controlled this game. The offense produced both in transition and in settled play while Petey LaSalla won 66.7% of his draws on the day and the Wahoo defense clamped down on the Spiders for the second time this season. Goalie Matthew Nunes stayed hot, registering nine saves relative to the seven goals he allowed (56.3%).
Beyond Shellenberger and Cormier on offense, Xander Dickson scored a pair of goals and notched an assist as he broke the program’s single season goal record with his 57th and 58th tallies, passing Doug Knight’s 56 from back in 1996.
Regarding how Virginia responded to the weather, Head Coach Lars Tiffany said that “I really appreciated how much our men enjoyed it, embraced it, and really had fun today.”
This win puts UVA back into the quarterfinals for the fourth straight postseason. Obviously, the program is in an outstanding place. But the wherewithal to weather the storm both literally and figuratively in today’s game was impressive and indicates how this team is constructed for the month of May and any scenario which could come their way.