Rob Emery took a Colin Briggs pass and ripped it for the game’s final goal with 4:48 left in the contest, lifting the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (1-0) to a season-opening triumph over the No. 20 Drexel Dragons (0-1) on Saturday afternoon, 9-8.
Just over three minutes prior, Bobby Hill tallied his first collegiate goal to tie the game, 8-8, in front of an over-capacity crowd of 2,331 inside Vidas Field. Capacity crowd is listed at Vidas Field at 1,500.
“We knew we were going to have our hands full coming in here,” said Virginia men’s lacrosse head coach Dom Starsia. “This was a quality win against a very good Drexel team. For us to get a win like this in the first game on the road, a win that will stand up over the course of the season, is a meaningful way to start the season.”
Virginia is now 46-32-1 all-time in season opening games and has raised its series record against Drexel to 11-1.
Chris Bocklet started the game’s scoring, cutting around the edge to score at the 11:34 mark in the first quarter, giving UVa the 1-0 lead.
The Dragons reeled off a 4-1 run to take the 4-2 lead after Ryan Belka scored unassisted at 5:06 in the second quarter. UVa’s Matt White scored on a Bocklet pass to cut UVa’s deficit to one goal, 4-3, heading into the half.
White’s goal to close the half, coupled with scores by Emery and Briggs to start the third stanza, gave the Cavaliers a one-goal lead, 5-4, at the 11:20 mark. Drexel tied the game on a Robert Church score 50 seconds later at 10:30.
Owen Van Arsdale scored his first two collegiate goals via passes from White and Briggs to give the Cavaliers a 7-5 lead with 5:31 left in the third quarter. Drexel, however, scored three-straight goals to retake the lead at 8-7, capped by a Nick Trizano goal with 10:08 left in the game.
UVa then took over behind the goals from Hill and the game-capper from Emery, the sophomore’s second of the day.
Rob Fortunato was stellar between the pipes for UVa, saving 11 shots and picking up five ground balls. The game was the senior’s second career start. Fortunato also started the season-opening win against Drexel in 2011 where he stopped a career-high 12 shots.
Drexel outshot UVa (41-24), but UVa won the ground ball battle (36-24) and faceoffs (12-9) behind Ryan Benincasa’s 7-of-9 effort in the second half.
Emery and Van Arsdale led UVa with two goals apiece, while Briggs led the Cavaliers with two assists. Trizano and Brendan Glynn led Drexel with two goals apiece.
“Great atmosphere here today,” said Starsia. “Credit to Drexel head coach Brian Voelker and his team for a great game across the board. It was a team win as much as it was anything else. We needed some young guys to step up and make plays and they did that for us and that is the way it’s going to have to be during the season.”
No. 1 Virginia returns to action on Tuesday when the VMI Keydets invade Klöckner Stadium. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.