(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)
Seven seconds. That’s how long it took Virginia to get thing started on Saturday afternoon. Petey LaSalla won the opening faceoff, bolted up field, and found Connor Shellenberger for the first tally of the day.
Just nine seconds later Shellenberger found himself putting the ball in the back of the cage once more as he took another LaSalla feed of a faceoff win, maneuvered around an incoming defenseman, and sent one hoe to make it a 2-0 game with just 16 seconds having ticked off the clock.
Virginia’s fast start was in many ways telling of what kind of day it would be for the Cavaliers and that offenses as they defeated Georgetown 17-14 to advance to Championship Weekend.
Shellenberger led the way for Virginia with 10 points off six goals and four assists. The Tewaaraton finalist had four of those scores during the first quarter alone. Xander Dickson (2G/2A) and Payton Cormier (2G/1A) had four and three points on the day.
Trailing 7-4 entering the second frame, it didn’t take long for Georgetown to settle in and get back into the battle. Jacob Kelly put home a dunk off a Graham Bundy, Jr., feed at the 13:46 mark of the second quarter. Later in the frame, a long rebound off a Virginia shot led to a Wallace Halpert pole goal. Aidan Carroll put one home minutes later to cut the Cavaliers lead to 8-7.
Brian Minicus went to his bread and butter with a dodge from X and capitalized to keep it a one-goal (9-8) game. A Nicky Solomon buzzer beater at the end of the second quarter did the same, making it 10-9 heading into the half. Minicus and Solomon would each strike one more time, tying it at 10-10 and then 11-11 early in the third quarter.
Those two game-tying scores, however, would mark the last time in which Georgetown saw themselves within striking distance of the lead. From the 8:54 mark of the third quarter through the 8:34 mark of the fourth Virginia went on a 6-1 run to pull away 17-12. Virginia saw six different scores during that late stretch.
In addition to its offense catching fire late, Virginia saw its defense cause all four of Georgetown’s turnovers during those 15 minutes and change. The Cavaliers caused all 12 of Georgetown’s turnovers, which included five in the second half alone.
Cole Kastner led the Cavaliers defensive effort out in front of the cage with three ground balls and four caused turnovers. Cade Saustad grabbed three ground balls and caused two turnovers on the day. Matthew Nunes anchored the Virginia defense with 13 saves and a 48% save percentage.
The battle at the faceoff dot between Virginia’s Petey LaSalla and Georgetown’s James Reilly was dead even LaSalla went 17-for-34 (50%) while Reilly went 16-for-32 (50%).
Georgetown was led by Brian Minicus with four goals. Graham Bundy, Jr., had two goals and two assists for four points.
Virginia advances to the NCAA Semifinals where they will play the winner of Sunday’s Notre Dame-Johns Hopkins contest.