Men’s lacrosse: Virginia defeats Georgetown in NCAA quarterfinal
Redshirt freshman Connor Shellenberger played like a seasoned veteran on Saturday afternoon on Long Island as the Virginia men’s lacrosse team claimed a 14-3 victory over fifth-seed Georgetown in the tournament quarter-finals of the NCAA. Shellenberger scored five goals, a career-high first half, and finished with six goals and one assist.
His six goals matched a program record for goals in a postseason game, a mark Doug Knight (1995) and Mike Herring (2019) have previously hit.
Eight different players scored for Virginia, and only Ian Laviano joined Shellenberger with multiple goals (two). Matt Moore, Dox Aitken, Xander Dickson, Payton Cormier, Charlie Bertrand and Petey LaSalla all scored a goal for the Hoos.
Following the victory, the No. 4 seeded Cavaliers return to Championship Weekend for the second consecutive time. It was a clinic of almost from start to finish, but things got off to a rough start as Jared Conners and John Fox were called in for an unlawful body check and interference, respectively. This gave the Hoyas a 6-4 advantage in the opening 35 seconds of the game, but Alex Rode made a huge save. After a flash and a successful penalty, Laviano opened the scoring with a tear from the front, assisted by Shellenberger.
Georgetown responded to tie things up, but from there it was all in Virginia. Shellenberger gave the Hoos back the lead with a clever move into the crease and an easy finish, and the Cavaliers would score the next eight goals to take a 10-1 lead at halftime.
The Hoyas opened the second half with one goal, but another four from Virginia kept the glimmer of hope for a comeback off the table.
Virginia dominated in every facet of the game. The Cavaliers beat the Hoyas, 45-27, a remarkable number especially considering Virginia got its foot on the gas in the fourth quarter. LaSalla rebounded from difficult back-to-back outings winning 15 of 19 clashes he won (79%) and scoring a goal. Georgetown starting man James Reilly was injured in the opening face-off.
Lars Tiffany wanted his team to play aggressively and physically against an athletic Georgetown team, and they forced him. Dox Aitken, who had planned to use his final year of eligibility to play football at Villanova, returned to Virginia for one more season after COVID-19 disrupted the season. He made a huge impact as soon as he hit a big blow on a Georgetown clearance that got the ball back to Virginia and gave his team the advantage for good.
On the ground, the Hoos caught 31 balls on the ground against 16 for Georgetown.
Georgetown opened the second half with a goal, but their third goal of the game wouldn’t come until 5:02 of the fourth quarter. Virginia’s defense, which Georgetown head coach Kevin Warne likened to a bunch of velociraptors, has been disruptive all afternoon. They finished with 12 induced turnovers, and goaltender Rode was phenomenal when the Hoyas were able to get some shots. Rode recorded eight saves – and substitute Bobby Gavin had two in the last five minutes – and finished with a 73% save percentage.
The Cavalier defense held Georgetown top scorer Jake Carraway scoreless, the first time the Tewaaraton Trophy finalist failed to find the back of the net in 44 games (which was the longest active goal streak from the country). TJ Haley, the country’s best assistant, finished scoreless, assists and just one shot.
Next, Virginia faces the winner of Rutgers and No.1 North Carolina. The semi-finals will take place at noon and 2:30 p.m. next weekend.