Virginia midfielder Dox Aitken wasted little time in the second overtime, scooping up the ground ball off the faceoff and pushing it through traffic, including splitting two Loyola defenders, before scoring the unassisted goal to lift the Cavaliers (1-0) over the No. 13 Greyhounds (0-1), 13-12, on Saturday at Klöckner Stadium. Aitken’s goal came 15 seconds into the second overtime period.
“I was really happy that Dox Aitken took a chance in the second overtime to not let Loyola set up their defense and go straight to the goal,” said Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany. “I would certainly give Loyola credit for tying it up down three late, but it wasn’t that we stalled and went slow. I think their goalie made a couple really nice saves and then their zone defense stymied us and we just couldn’t crack it. I thought what Loyola did today was fantastic in the first half. They were clearly the better team in the first half. As for us, we are really fortunate to have such a tight-knit team and I think that’s what helped us realize the comeback. Being down five goals was significant, but the belief and the attitude that we’ve really worked a lot on here to build a cultural mindset and I saw that come to fruition today with the men continuing to play and making that big comeback.”
Loyola was pinpoint in the first half, entering the intermission with a 7-3 lead, as Pat Spencer recorded two goals and two assists. Mike Orefice took the opening faceoff of the third quarter right in for a goal, giving the Greyhounds an 8-3 advantage 11 seconds into the second half.
UVA’s mojo ignited on Cameron Stafford’s man-up goal, courtesy of an Ian Laviano helper with 11:23 left in the third quarter. Stafford’s goal started a 7-0 Virginia run that was capped on Michael Kraus’ unassisted goal with 14:33 left in the fourth period. Laviano scored three goals in the spurt, including giving UVA its first lead of the game 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Spencer ended UVA’s run with an unassisted goal at 13:46, but UVA scored two more quick goals to take a 12-9 advantage. Matt Moore’s goal capped the mini two-goal run with 9:55 remaining in regulation.
The Greyhounds bounced back, scoring three straight goals to tie the game, 12-12, with 2:14 in regulation. Loyola held the ball most of the closing minutes, unable to score before heading to overtime.
Loyola was unable to get a shot off in the first overtime, while turning the ball over three times. The Greyhounds had a chance late in the first overtime, but were unable to get a shot, setting up Aitken’s heroics to start the second overtime.
Loyola won the battle of shots (49-44), while UVA won the matchups with ground balls (41-30), faceoffs (18-11) and saves (15-10).
Laviano’s six points are the most by a UVA freshman making his collegiate debut in a season opener since Drew McKnight (2 goals, 4 assists) in 1997 against Syracuse, while the five goals are the most since Kevin Pehlke’s debut in 1990 against Washington & Lee (five goals). Freshman Matt Moore scored two goals and one assist in his collegiate debut, while UVA received two assists apiece from Aitken, Ryan Conrad and Michael Kraus. Goal Griffin Thompson picked up 15 saves in the cage.
Virginia returns to action on Feb. 17 when the Cavaliers travel to the “City of Brotherly Love” to face the Drexel Dragons. Faceoff is set for 1 p.m.