If you like offensive lacrosse, Friday was your night.
No. 8 Virginia and No. 2 Duke combined for 32 goals but it was the Blue Devils holding off the Cavaliers, 17-15.
James Pannell scored three goals and 13 Cavaliers scored at least one point for Virginia who fell to 8-5 overall and 1-4 in the ACC.
With the loss, UVa will secure either fifth or sixth place in the ACC and will play in the “Showcase Game” on April 26 at the ACC Championship in Chester, Pa. UVa’s neutral site opponent at PPL Park will be determined after the remaining conference members conclude league play.
“That’s a team that shoots the ball very, very well,” said Virginia men’s lacrosse head coach Dom Starsia. “That’s the first piece of the puzzle. A couple more saves for us and couple more shots going in for us from guys that I would expect to get them, and the game swings the other way. We’re close. We’re right there. We’re getting better. These last two weeks we’ve played the two best teams we’ve seen all year and battled them down to the wire. We just have to keep playing and getting better.”
With the game tied 3-3, Zed Williams scored the first of his two goals at 1:51 to give UVa a 4-3 lead and cap the first quarter scoring.
UVa jumped out to a 6-4 advantage with 11:28 left in the first half on goals by Zach Wood and Williams but the tide soon turned for Duke with a 6-0 run that spelled the difference in the game. Ryan Tucker gave UVa a jolt going into the intermission when he scored on an Owen Van Arsdale helper with 2.1 seconds left, cutting the Cavalier deficit to 10-7 heading into the break.
Duke opened the second half on a 3-1 run to extend its lead to five goals, 13-8 but UVa quickly went on a 3-0 run to get within two goals, 13-11.
Duke extended the lead to 15-11 and a 4-1 Duke run that gave the Blue Devils a five goal lead, 17-12.
UVa cut the lead to 17-15 with under three minutes to play but could get no closer.
“I didn’t feel like the possession battle was completely out of whack,” said Starsia. “The kid facing off for them is very good, so we had to battle that all night long. But, this was a game, and a team, where the ball was going to be loose. They weren’t going to play a very deliberate pace like some teams we’ve faced. We defended in the second half and were able to get the ball back and did well clearing it all game. I think we might have gotten the better of Duke in the middle of the field and created some opportunities for ourselves. When you’re not winning face-offs, you have to be very good clearing the ball and picking the ball up off the ground, and I thought we were in both those aspects.”
James Pannell led UVa with four points on three goals and one assist. Williams had two scores and two assists for a career-high four points. Coholan also had four points with two goals and two assists.
UVa returns to action on Saturday, April 19 when Bellermine comes to Klöckner Stadium to conclude the regular season. Faceoff is set for 1 p.m.