A steel wall separated Virginia goalie Alex Rode from Yale’s fast-paced attack.
The Bulldogs’ attack, however, was blunted as the Cavaliers went on to capture their sixth NCAA Division I national championship in men’s lacrosse with a 13-9 win at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday.
“Yale has a very good offense,” Rode said of the No. 2 attack in the country. “It was great for the guys who played so well. They were just flying all over... It was just a treat just to be with them.”
Yale attacker Matt Brandau, who scored seven goals in Saturday’s semifinal against Penn State, was held to just two in Monday’s title game. Virginia midfielder Ryan Conrad and defenseman Cade Saustad had a lot to do with that. Conrad had seven ground balls Saustad had six.
“I think our offense was just a little stagnant,” Brandau said.
Yale was outscored 2-1 in the first quarter and Virginia was able to stay ahead throughout the game. By halftime, the Cavaliers were up, 6-2, an advantage head coach Lars Tiffany wasn’t used to having.
“We’re more comfortable losing at halftime,” Tiffany said. “We don’t want to stall. You can’t do that in the shot-clock era, but the men made us look smart. They understood awareness.”
The Bulldogs, who normally expect to score at will against opponents, were behind from the start on Monday. They were held to 19 shots in the first half, which was significantly less than their season average. Yale finished the day with 38 shots attempts.
Even though Rode had a tough group in front of him, he still held his own with the stick. He outsaved his opponent, Yale goalie Jack Starr, 13 to 9.
Tiffany said he implemented a Sunday heavy-lifting day three years ago when he took over Virginia’s lacrosse program. The program is modeled after ones used by NFL teams, and he said that is what gave the Cavaliers an edge. Their defense had the strength and endurance to control Yale’s swift offense.