Virginia has won their first national championship since 2011, beating Yale 13-8, dethroning the defending champions. Virginia’s defense came to play, limiting the Yale offense with Alex Rode standing on his head. At the faceoff dot Petey LaSalla was able to neutralize TD Ierlan to an extent which really gave the Cavaliers an edge in the possession battle.
This was a tough battle in the middle of the field all game, and it started early on. Both sides were getting aggressive and playing with toughness in between the restraining lines just like they have all year long. Virginia’s ride was especially good as they were able to limit Yale’s clearing game.
Virginia was led by Matt Moore with 5 points (4G,1A) while Michael Kraus had 3 goals for the Cavaliers as well. Also, Dox Aitken and Petey LaSalla each tallied 2 goals. In cage Alex Rode made 13 saves.
Yale was led by Matt Brandau with 5 points (3G,2A) while Jack Tigh and Matt Gaudet had 2 goals each. Jack Starr made 9 saves in cage for the Bulldogs to help anchor that defense.
Jack Tigh got the scoring going for Yale with a man-up goal just a few minutes in the game, giving the Bulldogs an early 1-0 advantage. Less than a minute later Matt Moore turned the corner off a screen from behind the cage and stung the back of the net to put Virginia on the board.
After a lot of back-and-forth play in the middle of the field Virginia got a set possession and made the best of it. Matt Moore found the back of the net once again, putting Virginia up 2-1. While Yale had chances to tie it up late in the first the Virginia defense stood tall.
Matt Gaudet tied things up at 2 for Yale on an open net as Virginia goalie Alex Rode decided to leave the crease and chase a ground ball. After that Gaudet goal the Virginia defense really stepped up with Alex Rode shutting the door multiple times in a row.
That defensive success turned into offensive success for the Cavaliers. Virginia went on a four-goal run that started with Michael Kraus finding the back of the cage and ended with Petey LaSalla scoring off a faceoff win, putting Virginia up 6-2. Once again Alex Rode shut the door helping to stifle the Yale offense in the final minutes of the first half, holding their four-goal lead heading into the locker room.
Down 6-2 at the start of the second half, Yale wasted not time getting their mojo back. TD Ierlan won the faceoff to open the third and flipped it to John Daniggelis who ripped it from outside. Matt Gaudet extended the Yale run to two-goals on the very next possession, cutting the Virginia lead to 6-4.
Virginia answered with a quick two-goal run of their own with Ryan Conrad and Michael Kraus scoring within a minute of each other to push the Cavaliers lead back out to 8-4. Just a few minutes later Matt Moore extended the Virginia run, followed by a Petey LaSalla goal right off the faceoff, putting Virginia up 10-4 and extending their run to four goals.
After a few good defensive stops on both ends Virginia struck again with Matt Moore scoring in the dying seconds of the shot clock, pushing the Virginia lead to 11-4 and extending their run to five straight goals. Matt Brandau finally got Yale going again, scoring on the inside as time expired in the quarter.
Dox Aitken got the scoring started early in the fourth, putting Virginia up 12-5. The Bulldogs then went on a two-goal run that included a fast break goal from Lucas Cotler to cut back into the Virginia lead. After some up and down play in the middle of the field Matt Brandau scored again, pushing Yale’s run out to three.
Just when it seemed like Yale might take over the Virginia defense stood tall, limiting the Bulldogs offense. Midfielder Ryan Conrad picked off a Yale pass and Ian Laviano scored out of a timeout. Yale would score in the final seconds of the game but that didn’t do much as Virginia secured the 13-9 win, grabbing their first national title since 2011.