PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After being knotted 7-7 at halftime, Virginia (12-3) capitalized on an 8-0 run in the second half to pull away from eighth-seeded Brown (10-6) in a 17-10 victory Saturday night at Stevenson-Pincince Field in the First Round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Connor Shellenberger, the 2021 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, posted a game-high eight points on four goals and four assists. Payton Cormier tallied a game-high five goals on nine shots. Petey LaSalla dominated the faceoff-X, finishing Saturday’s game 19-for-30 (.633), and collected a game-high 11 ground balls. In net, first-year goalie Matthew Nunes (11-3) earned the win after stopping 16 Brown shots to register a .615 save percentage in 60 minutes of action. The Bears’ starting goalie Connor Theriault (9-6) made nine saves and suffered the loss.
In a game that saw four lead changes, including three in the first half, the Cavaliers commanded the ground-ball game after scooping 32 loose balls in contrast to Brown’s 20. Virginia entered Saturday’s contest as the nation’s leader in ground balls per game (39.14).
HOW IT HAPPENED
Shellenberger kicked off the scoring with the first two goals of the game. The Bears closed out the first quarter by scoring four of the next five goals. LaSalla had UVA’s third goal of the opening period as the Cavaliers trailed 4-3 at the end of the quarter. Scott Bower’s third career goal and first of the season put a cap on a 3-0 UVA run to open the second, but the Bears responded with a 3-0 run of their own to regain the lead, 7-6, with just under 4:00 to play in the first half. Cormier ripped his second goal of the evening 20 seconds later to even the game 7-7 heading into the intermission. Shellenberger posted a hat trick in the first 20 minutes of action and Nunes closed out the first half with eight saves, including five in the first period.
Both teams scored back-to-back goals – starting with UVA – to open the second half, including a goal from UVA long-stick midfielder Ben Wayer. With the score tied, 9-9, the Cavaliers orchestrated eight straight goals – three of which were Cormier’s – to ultimately take a 17-9 lead with 6:29 remaining in the fourth. Brown reached double digits on the scoreboard with 2:30 to play as Virginia went on to claim its ninth straight NCAA Tournament victory, a streak that dates back to its 2019 national championship run.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
Lars Tiffany on UVA’s determination and experience …
“The men sitting next to me [Cormier and Shellenberger] and the men back in the locker room – I’m very fortunate to have. Not only supremely talented men, but men who really care and are passionate. When you get to the NCAA Tournament, the experience matters. It really does. The idea that there is no guarantee for tomorrow. And we were just desperate, hungry to not be disbanded – to not let this end … I’m fortunate to be surrounded here by Payton [Cormier] and Connor [Shellenberger] and men back in the locker room who appreciate and came to Virginia so they could be in these type of high-stakes high-pressure situations. And we performed under that pressure at a high-level tonight.”
WITH THE WIN…
- Virginia improved to 57-33 (.633) all-time in NCAA Tournament contests.
- UVA made its 41st NCAA Tournament appearance, which is No. 3 nationally among Division-I programs all-time.
- UVA won its ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament game, a streak that began in 2019. Its nine straight tournament wins are a program record.
- Virginia is 9-1 all-time under the direction of head coach Lars Tiffany.
- UVA improved to 13-2 all-time against Brown and earned the program’s first true road win at Stevenson-Pincince Field.
- For his career as a head coach, Tiffany improved to 44-23 (.657) at Stevenson-Pincince Field.
- Virginia improved to 4-0 in night contests this season.
- Matthew Nunes became first UVA freshman goalie to win an NCAA Tournament game since Derek Kenney helped the Cavaliers go 3-0 in the tournament en route to winning the program’s second NCAA title in 1999.
- Shellenberger’s eight points tied his career best, which he set against Johns Hopkins (March 5) earlier this season.
- Shellenberger is currently averaging 3.60 goals per game, 2.80 assist per game and 5.60 points per game in five career NCAA Tournament appearances. His goals-per-game average and point-per-game average currently leads UVA all-time, while his assists-per-game average is currently good for No. 4.
- Payton Cormier’s became the 21st player in program history to post five goals in an NCAA Tournament game, which is tied for fourth all-time in UVA history.
- Matt Moore finished with two goals and two assists. In 10 career NCAA Tournament games, Moore is now tied for seventh in UVA history with 22 goals and tied for fourth with 41 points.
- With 11 ground balls, Petey LaSalla became UVA’s career leader in ground balls in NCAA Tournament games. In his ninth NCAA Tournament appearances, LaSalla (56 GBs) topped David Jenkins’ previous record of 54.
The Cavaliers await the winner of top-seeded Maryland (14-0) and Vermont (12-6). The Terrapins and Catamounts square off on Sunday (May 15) in College Park, Maryland at noon on ESPNU. Virginia and the winner of Sunday’s game will meet in the quarterfinals at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday (May 22). Opening faceoff will be at either noon or 2:30 p.m. and broadcast on ESPNU.