BALTIMORE, MD – The ninth-ranked and visiting Virginia men’s lacrosse team used a 6-1 second-half run to turn a close game into a 16-11 victory against host Johns Hopkins Saturday evening at Homewood Field. The Cavaliers win their fifth straight and improve to 6-2, while the Blue Jays had a two-game winning streak snapped and slip to 4-4.
With the win, Virginia reclaims the Doyle Smith Cup, which is presented annually to the winner of the Johns Hopkins-Virginia regular season game.
Virginia had used at three-goal spurt midway through the third quarter to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 10-8 lead, but the second of Evan Zinn’s two goals for Johns Hopkins trimmed the margin back to one at 10-9 with 4:40 left in the period.
The Cavaliers had the lead up to three at 12-9 by the end of the third quarter as Ian Laviano scored off a quick feed from Michael Kraus with 2:19 left in the third and Kraus intercepted an errant Blue Jay clearing attempt and added an unassisted goal with 63 seconds left in the period.
Virginia capped its 4-0 run with back-to-back goals on a 12-yard step down from Matt Moore and an extra-man strike from Dox Aitken in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Freshman Joey Epstein halted the run with his fourth goal of the game 61 seconds after Aitken’s strike, but the Cavaliers answered off the ensuing faceoff as Petey LaSalla’s behind-the-back tally made it 15-10. Moore’s third of the game and the career-best fifth of the night by Epstein closed out the scoring to account for the 16-11 final score.
The second half was drastically different than the first as there were six ties in an opening 30 minutes that ended deadlocked at 6-6.
Virginia scored twice in the first 2:11 of the game on strikes by LaSalla and Moore, but Jack Keogh, Kyle Marr and Zinn all scored in a span of less than three minutes midway through the opening period to give the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead. The teams traded the next seven goals to force ties at three, four, five and six with Kraus’s first of the night capping the first-half scoring. Marr and Epstein both scored twice in the opening 30 minutes for the Blue Jays, while Virginia’s six first-half goals came from six different players.
The 6-6 tie lasted for just 62 seconds of the third quarter as Laviano scored in transition after an Alex Rode save at the other end for the Cavaliers. Hopkins answered quickly as Epstein picked the top corner off a question mark dodge from behind and Connor DeSimone gave the Blue Jays an 8-7 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the third when he came from behind the goal and rifled one past Rode.
Virginia answered with the three-goal spurt that quickly turned the 8-7 deficit into the 10-8 lead as Kraus, Ryan Conrad and Aitken all scored unassisted goals to give the Cavaliers the lead for good.
Kraus, Aitken and Moore all scored three goals for the Cavaliers, who got 10 saves from Rode and two goals, five ground balls and a 9-of-21 performance on faceoffs from LaSalla.
Epstein led the Blue Jays with his five goals, while Zinn (2g), Marr (2g) and Cole Williams (2a) all had multi-point games for Johns Hopkins. Sophomore Kyle Prouty won 16-of-28 faceoffs and added six ground balls and one assist.
Johns Hopkins will return to action on Saturday, March 30 when the Blue Jays travel to Michigan to open Big Ten play against the Wolverines.