PHILADELPHIA — Sitting at the podium for the postgame press conference, Matt Moore and Michael Kraus bobbed their head along as music blared down the hall.
They were eager to rejoin their teammates for a celebration eight years in the making.
“It was a perfect ending to a great story,” Moore said.
Kraus added three goals and Alex Rode made 13 saves for the Cavaliers (17-3), who stifled Yale’s high-powered attack to dethrone the Bulldogs in front of 31,528 fans at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.
Many of the spectators wore Virginia orange, cheering loudly as the Cavaliers took home their first championship since 2011. They previously won in 1972, 1999, 2003 and 2006.
Freshman Matt Brandau led the Bulldogs (15-4) with three goals, including one with 4:30 left that gave them the record for most goals in a single NCAA tournament. Yale finished with 68 goals across four NCAA tourney games, but the nine it tallied Monday was a season low.
The Cavaliers limited their chances by slowing the game and holding the ball deep into the shot clock throughout the contest.
“That was very frustrating,” Yale coach Andy Shay said. “We like to run and we like to play fast.”
The Bulldogs, seeded fourth, had stormed past top-seeded Penn State 21-17 in Saturday’s semifinals after the third-seeded Cavaliers nipped second-seeded Duke 13-12, snapping an 11-game losing streak to their ACC rival.
Trailing 6-2 at halftime, Yale quickly got back into it with two goals in the first 1:09 of the second half. But Virginia retook control with the next five goals, including two unassisted strikes from Moore.
Moore, a native of nearby Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania, also scored the first two goals for a 2-1 advantage after the opening quarter. He set Virginia’s single-season points record with 89, but said winning a national championship near where he grew up trumped any personal accolades.
“Coming to a bunch of (Philadelphia) Eagles games, I’ve dreamed of this since I was a kid,” Moore said. “I really still can’t believe it. It’s just an awesome thing being here with my teammates, celebrating.”
Matt Gaudet (two goals) snapped a 16-minute scoreless streak for Yale early in the second quarter, scoring into an empty net after Rode left his post. But UVA ripped off four straight goals to end the period: the first two from Kraus and the last from Petey LaSalla, who scored twice directly after winning faceoffs.
Rode was the tournament’s most outstanding player after making 31 stops in the semifinals and finals, combining for a .608 save percentage.
“Alex made some big saves early when we made mistakes and they found some openings,” Virginia coach Lars Tiffany said. “That allowed our defense to grow more comfortable.”
Yale was playing its second straight ACC opponent in the NCAA title game after beating Duke 13-11 behind four goals from Gaudet in last year’s finale. This was Yale and Virginia’s first meeting since 1991.
“If you sit at my desk, there’s five championship trophies hanging over me,” Tiffany said. “And you feel that.”
Soon, another one will be added.
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