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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Former Smithtown West High School (N.Y.) star James Pannell scored a career-high seven goals and Mark Cockerton tied a career high with seven points as the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers (6-0, 1-0 ACC) pulled away from the No. 8 Syracuse Orange (2-2, 0-2 ACC) for a 17-12 win on Saturday night at Klöckner Stadium.

UVa wins its ACC opener for the first time since 2012 and is now 32-5 all-time at Klöckner Stadium in night games. The game marked the first time the rivals have met as ACC members with Syracuse a first-year member of the conference.

The four goals by Cockerton makes the senior the 15th player in UVa history to score 100 career goals.

“It’s certainly the best we have played and the closest to a complete game that we’ve played,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. “I told the team on the practice field yesterday that there is definitely going to be some ebb and flow in a game like this against these guys. I thought we battled the whole time, and even when they closed on us a couple times, I felt like we continued to play and never gave up or gave in to anything. I think this was definitely a step in the right direction.”

Syracuse jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on goals by Hakeem Lecky, Kevin Rice and Henry Schoonmaker. The goal by Shoonmaker capped the run at 5:58 in the first period.

UVa retaliated with a 6-0 run, helping UVa to a 6-3 lead and the Cavaliers never trailed again. Pannell started the run scoring the first two goals of his career night. The first came on a Zed Williams assist at 5:58.  Ryan Tucker, Cockerton and Pat Harbeson all tallied scores before Pannell finished the spurt with his third goal of the game at the 11:05 mark.

Rice scored again at the 8:07 marker in the second period to bring the Orange within two goals, 6-4. Pannell found nylon again at 5:45 to push the lead back three goals, 7-4.  Syracuse cut its deficit to one goal, 7-6 after scores by Scott Loy and Randy Staats.

“We’ve been ahead of these guys by seven or eight goals in the past and they’ve come back, but I wasn’t that concerned and was hoping we would get one tonight,” commented Starsia. “But other than that, we always felt like we were in control.”

Virginia went into the intermission on a roll when Rob Emery hit a big goal with 7.7 seconds on the clock in the second period. The goal gave UVa an 8-6 lead at the break.

A 3-1 Syracuse run to start the third tied the game at 9-9. Staats brought the game even on a Loy pass at 7:39. The Orange did not get any closer to overcoming UVa. The Cavaliers answered with four consecutive goals to separate itself by a margin of four, 13-9. Owen Van Arsdale scored on a Cockerton helper with 3:42 on the clock in the third period to cap the run.

Lecky scored at 1:53 in the third quarter to cut the Syracuse deficit to three goals, 13-10.  Virginia finished the game on a 4-2 run to secure its sixth victory of the season. A Williams missile with 7:02 left in the game halted the Syracuse run and started the final UVa streak that secured the game. The goal was the first of Williams’ collegiate career .

Mick Parks won 24-of-31 faceoffs for UVa to help pace the victory. His 24 wins rank No. 2 all-time in the UVa record books for faceoff wins in a game. Steve and Andy Kraus previously shared the No. 2 spot with 23 wins.  Steve’s came in 1981 against Johns Hopkins and Andy’s in 1988 against Duke.

UVa won the battle of shots (55-32), ground balls (51-22) and faceoffs (24-7).  Syracuse on the battle of saves (14-5) and had more turnovers (12-4).

When the Orange did have the ball, the offense was efficient, connecting on 12 of its 32 shots (.375).

“I though the first midfield played really well,” SU head coach John Desko said. “If you look at the shots and the number of goals we had, we shot a high percentage. I think it’s pretty obvious it’s the lack of possessions. They beat us handily on the faceoff. We had to play defense and I don’t think you can beat a good team like Virginia having to play so much defense.”

Seven of UVa’s starters scored at least one point and all three members of UVa’s second midfield line also scored at least one point in the triumph.

Next up for Syracuse is former BIG EAST rival St. John’s. The Orange and Red Storm square off in the Cobb County Lacrosse Classic at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 8 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.

Virginia returns to action on Saturday when they return to Ithaca, N.Y., for the first time since 2010 to face the Cornell Big Red. Faceoff is set for noon.

* College Scoreboard Central: Click here for Saturday’s scores. Click on the links for box scores.

* College lacrosse coverage story archive

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