Ryan Lukacovic scored a career-high nine points and Joe French added a career-high six more points as the No. 8 UVa. Cavaliers (8-2) cruised to a 21-3 victory Monday night at Klöckner Stadium over the VMI Keydets (1-9).
Twelve different Cavaliers scored at least one point and four different UVa players recorded hat tricks, including James Pannell who only played the first quarter.
“There are two things we wanted from the game today,” said Virginia men’s lacrosse head coach dom starsia. “One is that we needed to be sharp. We haven’t been that sharp so far this year and we needed this to be a good day for us overall. Right from the get go, I thought we were very sharp. We were getting the ground balls and making the extra pass. Two, what we wanted was to be able to get some guys off the bench and onto the playing field in a game situation.”
About 48 hours removed from the Virginia’s 11-10 overtime win against Johns Hopkins, UVa was able to use 27 players off the bench. The Cavalier starters saw their only action in the first quarter when UVa outscored VMI 9-0 and limited the Keydets to one shot, which came in the final seconds of the period.
UVa opened the game on a 12-0. Ryan Tucker began the offensive outpour with a goal at 13:53, assisted from Owen Van Arsdale. Pannell found the back of the net 21 seconds later, his first of three goals on the day. AJ Fish capped the run with his first career goal on a Tyler German helper at 9:37 in the second quarter. Fish’s score came on UVa’s only extra-man situation of the night.
Mickey Hoefmeister broke the draught for the Keydets at 8:43 of the second quarter with a quick stick finish past Virginia Goalie Rhody Heller, who replaced starter Matt Barrett in the middle of the second frame.
The two teams exchanged goals as the game settled down and the intermission was reached with UVa leading 13-2. Hoefmeister’s second goal capped the second quarter scoring at the 4:52 mark.
Virginia opened the second half with a 7-0 run, including three scores from French. French earned his most extensive minutes of the season and finished with four goals and two assists, both career highs.
VMI broke through again 10 seconds into the fourth quarter when Ian Marinacci scored on an open net after a failed UVa clear gave the long pole an inviting and unblocked look at the net.
French capped the game’s scoring at 11:49 on a helper from Lukacovic as UVa ran the clock out the rest of the game.
“I thought that when we started to substitute we were able to keep the bar pretty high and our performance never really dropped off,” said Starsia. “So that was really good. We’ve played so many close games that we have not had the chance to substitute earlier in the year, so it was nice that we were able to get everyone in the game early for some good minutes.”
The win for UVa was it largest (18 goals) since beating VMI by 19 goals in the 2008 meeting (24-5).
UVa received hat tricks from Luckacovic (4), French (4), Zach Wood (3) and Pannell (3). Mark Cockerton (2) and Fish (2) scored in double digits. Besides Fish, Jeff Kratky also scored his first career goal after winning a face off and streaking toward the unassisted score in the third period.