Virginia Downs Syracuse to Stay Unbeaten


Virginia's 17-16 win over Syracuse has the Cavaliers off to a 5-0 start, the best at the school since the 2007 season which ended with a trip to the NCAA championship game.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — When Virginia sophomore Sammy Mueller picked herself up off the Klockner Stadium turf for roughly the 20th time Sunday afternoon, she gathered her composure and set herself up for a free position with five minutes gone in the second half of the Cavaliers ACC opener against Syracuse. 

The sequence, one in the midst of a tough and wild game, led to a goal from UVa teammate Maggie Jackson to give the Cavs a lead on the way to a 17-16 victory. Mueller, along with midfield mate and fellow New Yorker Kasey Behr, survived a rough game on both ends of the field to lead the Cavaliers to victory and give Virginia (5-0, 1-0 ACC) its best start to the season since the 2007 Wahoos went all the way to the national championship game. 

“They are a physical team,” Behr said. “But I think we are very physical too. It’s just a matter of composing ourselves after we get pushed down to the ground. You don’t want to turn around and give them a foul right back. We kept our composure and it made a huge difference.”

Behr led Virginia with four goals and an assist while Maggie Jackson and Lilly DiNardo each added three goals for the Cavaliers. Sam Swart and Emily Hawryschuk each had four goals to lead the Orange, but Behr was the clear star of the game, making plays up and down the field as a defender and draw control specialist. 

Virginia won the draw control battle 20-14 with Behr and Jackson combining to win 13 of them. 

“Our middies were warriors,” UVa coach Julie Myers said. “We hadn’t really been tested yet and to see us step and do that against a great team like Syracuse was huge. Syracuse-Virginia is usually pretty physical with very competitive athletes. You got Kasey Behr who is great at the draw and Maggie Jackson and Sammy kept winning them. We really emphasized that possession was going to be important.”

With her team trailing 10-8 to start the second half, Behr controlled the opening draw then moved down the field for her third goal of the game. Behr’s four goals gave her 17 for the season and she also won six draws and collected a pair of ground balls. 

Each offense had been prolific coming into the ACC opener with the Orange averaging 19 goals per game in their first three contests while UVa was scoring more than 15 per game. But fast and physical defenses set the tone early. 

Syracuse (3-1, 0-1) quickly adjusted, scoring three goals in less than two minutes, two of them coming out of the stick of second-team All-American attack Riley Donahue, to grab a 3-1 lead nine minutes into the first half. 

“Both teams went on some nice runs,” Syracuse coach Gary Gait said. “But we have to do a better job keeping our focus. They got after ground balls and got to them and made plays.”

Mueller, who also won four draws for Virginia, scooped a game-high four ground balls and was vital on the clear for the Cavs.

Even as midfielders on each side continued to pound away on each other, the offenses picked up the pace. The Cavaliers scored the next three goals to regain the lead briefly before Syracuse ripped off five consecutive goals. Virginia answered with four straight of its own.

But Jackson scored to put Virginia up 12-11 with 24:48 left and the Cavs didn’t trail again, holding off the Orange rally attempts until the final horn. 

“We played off each other’s energy today,” Behr said. “I think we showed that this is a team that can succeed and make it to a Final Four.”No

Games of Note

  • Colorado scored the first nine goals of the game and hammered No. 15 Virginia Tech 18-3. Miranda Stinson led the Buffs (3-2) with five goals and three assists and Julia Lisella made 11 saves.

  • No. 16 Duke bounced back from Friday's blowout loss to Stanford with a 21-13 victory over Boston University. Freshman Charlotte North tied a school record with seven goals and Olivia Jenner had 10 draw controls, giving her 268 for her career to pass Emma Hamm's school record of 265.

  • No. 17 Notre Dame scored the final four goals of the game, holding Louisville scoreless for the final 16:35 to post a 14-9 victory. Notre Dame led 10-4 in the second half before Louisville scored five straight goals to pull within one goal. Maddie Howe had four goals and an assist for the Irish while Caroline Blalock led Louisville with three goals and an assist. 

  • Kelsey Murray set a Stanford school record with 10 points, and tied a school mark with five assists as the Cardinal downed Elon 17-10. 

— Brian Logue

Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Top 20 Scoreboard

No. 8 Virginia 17, No. 5 Syracuse 16
Colorado 18, No. 15 Virginia Tech 3
No. 16 Duke 21, Boston University 13
No. 17 Notre Dame 14, Louisville 9

Other Scores

George Mason 10, Coastal Carolina 9
Holy Cross 14, Stetson 8
Jacksonville 19, Villanova 11
Lafayette 11, East Carolina 9
LaSalle 12, Marist 9
Mercer 13, Davidson 12
Stanford 17, Elon 10
St. Francis (Pa.) 13, Kennesaw State 12 (OT)

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