UVA men's lacrosse dethrones Yale to win NCAA lacrosse title
The UVA Men's Lacrosse team has dethroned the Yale bulldogs with a 13-9 victory to seize the NCAA championship.
Matt Moore scored four goals and Virginia won its sixth NCAA lacrosse championship, beating defending champion Yale 13-9 in the national title game Monday.
Michael Kraus added three goals and Alex Rode made 13 saves for the Cavaliers (17-3), who stifled Yale's high-powered attack to dethrone the Bulldogs in front of 31,528 fans at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field.
Many of the spectators were wearing Virginia orange, cheering loudly as the Cavaliers took home their first championship since 2011. They previously won in 1972, 1999, 2003 and 2006.
Matt Brandau led the Bulldogs (15-4) with three goals, including one with 4:30 left that gave them the record for most goals in a single NCAA tournament. Yale finished with 68 goals across four NCAA tourney games.
The Bulldogs, seeded fourth, had stormed past top-seeded Penn State 21-17 in Saturday's semifinals after the third-seeded Cavaliers nipped second-seeded Duke 13-12, snapping an 11-game losing streak to their ACC rival.
Trailing 6-2 at halftime, Yale quickly got back into it with two goals in the first 1:09 of the second half. But Virginia retook control with the next five goals, including two unassisted strikes from Moore.
Moore, a native of nearby Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania, also scored the first two goals for a 2-1 advantage after the opening quarter. He set Virginia's single-season points record in the win.
Matt Gaudet (two goals) snapped a 16-minute scoreless streak for Yale early in the second quarter, scoring into an empty net after Rode left his post. But UVA ripped off four straight goals to end the period: the first two from Kraus and the last from Petey LaSalla, who scored twice directly after winning faceoffs.
Yale was playing its second straight ACC opponent in the NCAA title game after beating Duke 13-11 behind four goals from Gaudet in last year's finale. This was Yale and Virginia's first meeting since 1991.
The University of Virginia is now the first school since Duke in 2010 to win both an NCAA championship in basketball and lacrosse in the same year.
It's the 6th national championship in UVA men's lacrosse history and their first since 2011.
While preparing for Monday’s NCAA title game against Yale, Lars Tiffany talked to an old friend and mentor Sunday morning – Dom Starsia.
On Sunday, Tiffany acknowledged Starsia’s role in getting Virginia back to the championship game in men's lacrosse -- both in recruiting the players on UVA’s roster, and the "profound influence" Starsia has had on Tiffany’s career.
"Dom has been fantastic to us this whole process," Tiffany told reporters on Sunday morning at Lincoln Financial Field. "I lived in Dom's house the first month when I got the job, despite the fact he had been let go from the position I sat in. That type of it man to have in my life as a mentor is so special and important to me."
Tiffany is in his third season since succeeding Starsia, as UVA’s coach.
He has Virginia back in the NCAA’s championship game for the first time since beating Maryland in the 2011 title game.
“To be able to just accomplish so much this year, after everything we’ve been through, this year as well as a couple years past, it’s just so rewarding," said UVA All-American midfielder Ryan Conrad, who scored a pair of first-quarter goals in Saturday's 13-12 overtime win against Duke in the NCAA semifinals.
“’Never rest’ is the mantra of this team," Tiffany said. "As you’ve seen, we never give up. And if there’s anything that other people can take away from this game, this team, and how we’ve played, never give up.”
One new tradition Tiffany has instituted at UVA is called “Cultural Thursdays." The team meets weekly to talk about books they’ve read or videos they’ve watched – and themes like supporting each other, or being a better teammate.
“I remember in one particular case in our second year together, Mikey Herring speaking up during one of those Cultural Thursdays. I had never heard Mikey Herring talk," Tiffany said. "To have them share their voices. For some men, no problem. For others, that’s really intimidating. And overcoming that fear, and making yourself uncomfortable by expressing yourself.”
“It’s really cool, because that’s where leadership, I think, is built," said UVA sophomore Ian Laviano. "Freshmen are talking, second-years are talking. All the way up to the fourth-years. And it’s just really special, the bond and the trust that we get from one another.”
Laviano scored the game-winner on Saturday against Duke. It was Virginia's sixth fourth-quarter rally to win this season, and it's fifth overtime victory of the year. The Wahoos also won ACC regular season and tournament titles, and advanced out of the first round of the the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.
Conrad says UVA’s stronger culture has been key to that success.
“We’ve always had great players. We’ve always had the talent to do special things," Conrad said. "But adding that trust and that culture and the ability to really just enjoy every second is really the reason why we’re so successful.”
But as Tiffany also pointed out on Sunday, culture doesn't always win you lacrosse games. On Monday, his team will face a Yale squad that is second in the country in scoring this spring, averaging 15.94 goals per game. The reigning NCAA champs have scored 26 times in the first quarter of their three games in this year's tournament -- including a record 10 goals in the first quarter of Saturday's 21-17 win against Penn State.
The Bulldogs also have TD Ierlan, who Tiffany says might be the best face-off man in the history of college lacrosse. Ierlan has won an NCAA-best 75.8 percent of his face-offs this season, and went 28-for-39 on Saturday against Penn State.
"Our job as coaches is to ensure that our men recognize it, how fast Yale is individually and how fast their tempo is," Tiffany said. "Fortunately we played Brown this year who still plays fast, so we've seen this. We played Robert Morris, who never let us you rest. But Yale obviously does it at a higher level."