The University of Richmond men’s lacrosse team suffered a tough back-and-forth loss during its senior night game on Saturday against the United States Air Force Academy, snapping a two-game win streak heading into the Southern Conference Tournament.
Head Coach Dan Chemotti said after the game that the Air Force was a strong defensive team.
“They have a lot of good defensive players, and they played exceptional defense today,” Chemotti said. “I think overall Air Force’s effort today shows that this game was more important to them than it was to us, and, to be honest, that’s a hard pill to swallow.”
Air Force’s offense started the game hot, winning the first three faceoffs and scoring the first two goals of the game.
Richmond responded with a quick goal from senior Austin Reid off a crisp assist from senior Ryan Lanchbury. The Spiders carried the momentum to a second goal from sophomore star Richie Connell off an assist from sophomore Dalton Young.
Richmond took significantly more shots on goal in the game than Air Force, outshooting Air Force 26 to 16 by the final whistle.
Air Force retook the lead after Connell’s goal, and Richmond responded with a goal from Lanchbury off an assist from sophomore midfielder Jake Kapp, tying it back up at 3-3.
Air Force retook the lead toward the end of the first quarter, bringing the lead to 4-3.
With five seconds on the clock, Connell found the back of the net for a second time off an assist from junior Ryan Dunn, tying it back up at 4-4 to end the first quarter.
To start the second quarter, Connell scored his third goal of the night to give the Spiders a 5-4 lead.
Air Force then increased their offensive attack and scored four straight unanswered goals, extending their lead to 8-5 at the midway point of the fourth quarter.
Just as it seemed all hope was lost, graduate midfielder Tyler Shoults found the back of the net and reignited the Spider’s offense. Connell scored his fourth and fifth goals of the day to tie the score at 8-8 with only three minutes left on the clock.
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Air Force scored the game-winning goal shortly after, and the Spiders suffered their first conference matchup loss of the season.
“I think it was just a wake up call for our entire team,” Connell said after the game. “We’ve been doing well in the Southern Conference and running up teams and going into the tournament. This is a good wake up call for both myself and my team and everyone involved.”
As part of the senior night game tradition, 15 seniors and graduate students were honored before the game.
“We love our seniors, and it’s a great way to honor those guys,” Chemotti said. “They’re great players and great individuals. These guys know when it’s time to play, it’s time to play.”
Connell said the importance of the senior game added to the pressure felt by the team.
“I think people had a lot of emotions flying, and we had a big crowd out there,” Connell said. “Nothing that we can put a finger on -- it was just a collective loss and we’ll show out here when tournament time comes.”
Connell said the Spiders would use the loss as motivation heading into the tournament on Wednesday.
“I think we’re gonna come in with a full head of steam,” Connell said. “We’re gonna be super collected and use this as a wake up call for our culture and our entire team. Just being able to bounce back, I think the Spiders are going to come out hot and we’re going to have a good showing.”
Chemotti agreed with Connell’s sentiment about using the loss as motivation.
“You always learn more after a loss than you do after a win,” Chemotti said. “Hopefully we can demonstrate that and it proves true with Wednesday’s results. We have got a lot of work to do but we have a group that’s willing to put in the work.”
Contact contributor Ben de Lemos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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