UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. – When it comes to conference play, everything gets ratcheted up a notch. Every possession, every faceoff, every groundball means a little bit more.
That was clear on Saturday at Robins Stadium when the University of Richmond men’s lacrosse team opened up SoCon play with a hard-fought 13-8 win over a scrappy VMI squad. Richmond used a five-goal spurt at the start of the second half to take control of the game and pull away for the win.
The Spiders improve to 5-1, tying the best start in program history through the first six games.
“I give a ton of credit to VMI. It’s the best VMI team that I’ve seen since I’ve been here and they did a great job of responding to what we were trying to do in the first half and really made it tough for us in the first 30 minutes,” Head Coach Dan Chemotti said. “We were able to refocus a bit at halftime and our guys did a nice job responding to come away with the win.”
Senior Peter Moran was outstanding in the faceoff circle, winning 18-of-24 on the day, picking up a goal and grabbing nine groundballs, the third most-ever in a single game.
Offensively, sophomore Teddy Hatfield registered a hat trick and an assist, while his classmate Ryan Lee had a goal and a career-high three assists on the day. Overall, nine different Spiders found the back of the net, with Dan Ginestro and Austin Brown, each finding it twice.
Once again, the defense was outstanding, led by All-American candidate Brendan Hynes, who had seven ground balls and five caused turnovers, the fourth-highest single game total in school history. Senior A.J. Lapitino had a career-high six ground balls, while Ryan Dennis had four caused turnovers for the Spiders.
“Conference games are always a battle and today was no exception,” Moran said. “We knew we had to have better energy and execution in the second half and I thought we did that for the most part.”
The Spiders got things started just over two minutes in when Lee took a feed from Ginestro and put it home for a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later, Hatfield found a cutting Adrian Nash who put the Spiders up 2-0.
After an answer from VMI, the Spiders got a man-up goal from Brown and less than 15 seconds later, Moran won the faceoff and sprinted down the field, firing home a goal and giving a Richmond 4-1 cushion.
The scrappiness of VMI came through in the second quarter when the Keydets scored three of the game’s next four goals.
Another man-up goal, this time from J.P. Forester, sent the Spiders into halftime with a 6-5 lead.
Richmond came out of the break firing.
Less than a minute into the second half, Eric Haehl found the back of the net to make it 7-5. An unbelievable defensive play by Hynes helped set up a pass from Michael Burns to Ginestro for his first goal of the day with 6:35 to play in the third.
A minute later, Ginestro took a feed from Haehl and made it 9-5. Ninety seconds later, Dean Roseman rifled off a shot that found the back of the net.
The Spiders’ five-goal spurt was capped off when Hatfield found the back of the net for a second time, this one less than two minutes into the fourth quarter to give Richmond a 11-5 lead.
VMI would score three in the final 10 minutes, but goals from Hatfield and Brown kept the Keydets from getting within striking distance and secured the 13-8 victory.
Richmond is back in action on Monday when they travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. to take on fifth-ranked North Carolina, the defending national champions. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN3.