March 1, 2014

Pannell's Seven Lead Virginia by Syracuse

by Drew Goodman | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay

 

While the entire Virginia lacrosse team was motivated to begin the season after a disappointing campaign in 2013, no Cavalier was more eager than sophomore, James Pannell.

The Smithtown, New York native went down with an injury on the first day of practice last February, and spent all spring recovering.

Fast-forward one year later in one of the biggest games of the season, Pannell equaled his entire goal total from all of last season, finding the net seven times in Virginia's 17-12 win over Syracuse.

The sophomore fired on all cylinders, connecting on his seven goals off of seven shots.

"It's very nice to have that many shots in a game," Pannell joked following the win. " "It's exciting to be a bigger part of the offense this year and just being consistent.

Added Virginia head coach, Dom Starsia, "Nobody ever saw him healthy last year. Throughout the spring, he just wasn't ready. We're not expecting this kind of performance every not, but he's a top player at this level, and seized the opportunity this evening."

The Cavaliers used two big runs in the first and second half respectively to take control of the game. After seeing Syracuse net the first three goals of the contest, Pannell finally cracked the scoreboard for the Cavaliers with 5:17 left in the first quarter.

Less than a minute later, Pannell made the Orange pay on an extra man opportunity, and the floodgates would open for UVa. The Wahoos reeled off six straight goals to between the late first and second quarters. Virginia found a kink in the Cuse armor, as the Cavaliers attacked the Orange net low for four of the six scores during the run.

Pannell capped off the surge with an incredible no-angle turnaround goal to ignite the capacity Klockner Stadium crowd.

Syracuse was able to whether the storm and claw their way back into the game in the third quarter. Hakeem Lecky scored his second of four goals to bring the Orange to within one, and then Randy Staats tied the game with 7:39 left in the third quarter.

Once again, Virginia was able to regain its equilibrium, scoring four straight to take the Orange out of the game for good.

UVa relentlessly attacked the Syracuse cage, outshooting the Orange 55-32, and held a commanding 51-22 advantage on ground balls.

"I felt like we were going to be able create opportunities," Starsia said of the big runs. "I feel like in the first quarter, we didn't shoot the ball well, but we started to get to the cage in the second, and we were scoring.

Virginia dominated time of possession thanks in large part to Mick Parks controlling 24 of 31 face-offs.

Mark Cockerton had a huge night with four goals and three assists.

Syracuse shot nearly 40 percent for the game, but could not overcome the disadvantage on face-offs or ground balls. Lecky led the way for the Orange with four goals on the evening. A quartet of visitors netted two goals a piece, in Staats, Scott Loy, Henry Schoonmaker, and Kevin Rice. Loy dished out three assists for Cuse.

Orange goalie, Dominc Lamolinara recorded 16 saves and kept Syracuse in the game, while the visitors struggled to keep possession.

"We aren't there yet defensively, but on the other hand, when we have to play so much defense, a good team like Virginia, with their offense is going to score," Syracuse head coach, John Desko said. "I think we just asked too much of [the defense], and we have to get better, and we have to know that we're on defense that we have to roll up our selves and be stingy."

Syracuse and Virginia have met 30 times, but Saturday night's clash had an added flavor, as it was the first time that the Cavaliers and Orange locked horns as members of the same conference. The Wahoos did not win a single ACC game all season in 2013, and are excited to have one of its oldest rivals in the same league.

"It's huge," Virginia defender, Scott McWilliams said. "Just to have them in our conference, knowing that we're going to see them again, possibly in the ACC tournament is great for us, and we're excited for the challenge."

The Cavaliers will travel to Cornell on March 8th, while the Orange will return home to face St. Johns next Saturday as well..


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