On paper, it was hard to envision Virginia being able to contain Yale’s fire power, the defending champions that averaged 15 goals per game for the entire post season. Even with veritable stars in their own right with the likes of attackman Matt Moore, Dave Smith, Matt Kraus and midfielder Ryan Conrad, Virginia had their work cut out for them in slowing the offensive juggernaut that is the Yale Bulldogs.
So how did Virginia not only slow Yale’s high tempo, high powered offensive attack, but stymie it? By turning the National Championship game into slug fest that they clearly were on the winning side of.
Right out of the gate, Virginia played aggressive defense, double teaming the ball at every opportunity, swarming ground balls, and delivering big hits; meanwhile managing to bring their hard nosed style of lacrosse yet staying out of the penalty box.
The result was Yale being taken out of their rhythm, often off balanced, and losing possessions. It also did not hurt that Alex Rode played outstanding in the goal, earning the most valuable player honors.
Even when Yale seemed to return to the form we have been accustomed to when they closed the gap to 6-4 right out of the opening of the second half, Virginia stayed the course in unwavering fashion and just kept playing their game. Virginia reminded us today that as much as lacrosse has changed with the rules scaling back some of the brutality of the game for safety’s sake, there is still plenty of room for playing tough, aggressively and physically dominating the other team from ground balls, to defensive traps and aggressive rides.
Make no mistake, Matt Moore, Matt Kraus, Ryan Conrad and company displayed some incredible feats of lacrosse skill to bring to Yale today. But in the end, it was the focus on the basic fundamentals of boxing out, scrapping for ground balls, playing great individual and team defense, and being physical that won the day today.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM andDr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.