The first game of the NCAA Division I semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field In Philadelphia seemed like more of a preseason game than a semifinal game for a championship, with a lot of unsettled play and a tremendous amount of turnovers.
Either one can cause a team to be eliminated from championship play. The University of Virginia was fortunate to have solid goaltending that allowed them to be victorious in the end with a 13-12 double overtime score over ACC rival Duke.
UVA head coach Lars Tiffany reflected on this at the press conference.
“A lot of turnovers, unforced turnovers and tentativeness,” he described the game. “And I was probably more animated at halftime than normal with this team about sort of emotional things, and this team responded. I said ‘fellas, this is our moment; we’ve earned this moment. We don’t deserve this. We’ve earned this. Take the moment.’”
Take the moment they did – and walked away with a ticket to the championship game on Monday, but Tiffany will need to come up with a solid game plan to face a Yale team that stunned Penn State later in the day.
Duke led 5-2 at halftime but UVA closed the gap to one after outscoring them 5-3 in the third. Duke scored twice in the first 1:04 of the fourth before UVA really began to fight back. Ian Laviano kicked things off with his second goal of the game at 4:10, staking UVA to a 5-2 run. It was Laviano who sent the game to overtime with 15 seconds, and also Laviano who scored the game winner off a quick-stick pass from Matt Moore in the second OT period.
Duke saw several players with multiple points. Brad Smith contributed four points with three goals and one assist. Joe Robertson, C.J. Carpenter, Kevin Quigley and Brian Smyth each added two goals. However, it was not enough.
Laviano’s four goals led Virginia. Dox Aitken added a hat trick and Michael Krause added one goal as well as four assists. Matt Moore had a big game with a pair of goals and assists. However, the game truly seemed to come down to which team had the most saves at the end of the game.
That award went to Alex Rode who had 19 saves compared to his counterpart Turner Uppgren, who made 10 saves against Virginia.
Despite doubling up on turnovers – Virginia had 18 compared to Duke’s nine – Virginia was a plus in every other category. They outshot Duke 53-48. They had eight more ground balls. They won more faceoffs.
What is highly concerning is that this team barely walked away with a victory. They’ll need to come up with a highly disciplined game plan if they want to beat Yale, who brings a high-paced, fast-scoring offense that caused quite a large amount of chaos against some highly talented Penn State defenders. Virginia appeared to lack the organization and solid defense needed in today’s game. Yale could run away with the game in the first quarter and Virginia may not be able to recover.
UVA will look for their sixth NCAA title on Monday, having last won the tournament in 2011. Hopefully the day off will give the coaches a chance to create a solid game plan to counter an unbelievably talented and regimented Yale team.