The Virginia Cavaliers (17-3) defeated the Yale Bulldogs (15-4) 13-9 in front of 31,528 fans at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia to capture their sixth National Championship on Monday, their first since 2011. The Cavaliers took down the defending champions to become the second team with the name Cavaliers to win a title during the weekend. The Cabrini Cavaliers won the DIII championship on Sunday.
UVA head coach Lars Tiffany said that the game came down to Alex Rode’s performance in goal. Rode made 13 saves against Jack Starr in the Yale net, who made nine. Last year the then-freshman Starr was named to the NCAA Championship Weekend All-Tournament Team for his performance over Duke, but this year was Rode’s time to shine.
“Early on Yale found some openings, and our defense was still getting settled in, trying to figure out who Yale is,” Tiffany said. “With one day to prepare for a team and not a lot of film to watch, it’s a difficult scout for both teams. Alex made big saves early, when we made mistakes, when there were openings.”
“Yale has a very good offense.” Rode praised the competition. “I thought the whole defense just played amazing. They were flying around, D middies and the close defense.”
After winning the opening faceoff the Bulldogs controlled possession for the first 1:42 and then were awarded a man-up, where it took just 19 seconds for Jack Tigh to find rope for the opening goal. The lead didn’t last long, and was in fact Yale’s only lead of the day. Virginia responded on their next possession as Matt Moore rolled off a pick to go far side to tie the game at one. Moore then found an open spot in Yale’s defense and deposited Mikey Herring’s pass into the back of the cage. Virginia kept up the pressure but Starr played well to keep the score low in the first.
Ian Laviano’s classic hip check to force the ball out of bounds was a highlight in the first.
Matt Gaudet ended Yale’s 16:18 scoring drought 3:19 into the second, but Virginia wouldn’t be rattled as Michael Kraus would come from behind the net to fire a shot low to the far side for a 3-2 Virginia lead.
After withstanding an offensive push by Yale, Virginia would storm down the field and score three in a row to lead 6-2 at the half. Michael Kraus would bury his second of the day to extend the Virginia lead 4-2. Rode stood tall as he stopped a blast from Matt Brandau 15 feet out. Virginia then scooped up the ground ball and Dox Aiken would go five-hole for a 5-2 lead. On the ensuing faceoff, Petey Lasalla would win the draw and sprint to the goal and increase the Cavaliers lead to 6-2.
“We’re not usually winning, we’re more comfortable losing at halftime, not that we want to but we’re more comfortable there,” Tiffany said. “So we talked about it as a staff, what do we do? We don’t want to stall, you can’t do that in the shot clock era, but the men made us look smart. They understood shot clock awareness, Matt Moore and Michael Kraus, especially; Dox Aitken and Ryan Conrad, especially.”
As the second half started so did the rush of goals. Yale scored twice in 45 seconds on goals from John Daniggelis and Matt Gaudet who had the Yale faithful on their feet as they drew within two at 6-4. But Virginia had other ideas and they went on a five-goal run. Matt Moore capped the run with a low shot through two defenders to put Virginia up 11-4.
As Gaudet went for a ground ball, Virginia’s Dave Smith laid a booming hit on him who crumbled to the ground with wind knocked out of him. Brandau scored the final goal of the quarter to end Virginia’s run.
Dox Aiken’s second of the day opened the fourth, but Yale and Matt Brandau would not go quietly as Brandau would find rope 16 later seconds later to start a three-goal run for the Bulldogs, their first real spark of life in the game. Lucas Cotter would score form in close to close the gap to five, but costly turnovers prevented Yale from having any chance of making a comeback. Brandau would continue to fight by scoring his third of the day to bring the within four.
“Offensively we were stagnant in the beginning,” the freshman Brandau said. “Toward the end of the game we got a little bit more aggressive and kind of spun the ball a little bit faster and moved off ball a little bit faster.”
Laviano put the final nail in the coffin as Jack Starr came out to pressure the ball but Laviano shot around him for his first of the day to seal the deal for Virginia. Yale’s Jack Tigh would score the final goal of the day past goalie Patrick Burkinshaw who came in to finish the final seconds of the game.
Brandau (3G/2A), Jack Tigh and Matt Gaudet had two goals each for Yale. Tigh’s second of the game set a record for most goals by a team in a NCAA Championship series at 67. Virginia held the previous record at 66 back in 2006. Both records were set at Lincoln Financial Field.
Virginia’s offense was led by Matt Moore (4G/1A), Michael Kraus (3G) and Dox Aiken (2G).
Rode was named Most Outstanding Player and took Starr’s spot on the All-Tournament Team.
G/So.-Alex Rode – UVA (MOP)
A/Fr.-Matt Brandau – YALE
M/Jr.-Dox Aitken – UVA
FO/Jr.-TD Irelan – YALE
A/Jr.-Grant Ament – PSU
M/Sr.-Ryan Conrad – UVA
A/So.-Matt Moore – UVA
A/So.-Ian Laviano – UVA
D/Fr.-Cade Saustad – UVA
M/SR.-Brad Smith – DUKE