Payton Cormier Breaks NCAA Record, Fuels Virginia Lacrosse Team’s Win Over St. Joseph’s

Virginia Cavaliers Payton Cormier Payton Cormier poured in 8 goals for Virginia. ~ Photo courtesy of Jamie Holt/Virginia Athletics Media Relations

Payton Cormier made the most of his final game at Klöckner Stadium on Saturday. By the end of the day, Cormier etched his name as the greatest goalscorer in Virginia and NCAA history.

Cormier scored a UVA program-record 8 goals to take his spot atop the NCAA career goals list and helped lead the No. 6 seed Cavaliers to a 17-11 win over St Joseph’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the process. The lefty Canadian left his mark on the day reaching 222 career goals to break former Penn State attack man Mac O’Keefe’s previous record of 221. Cormier also set the Cavaliers’ single game mark and broke former teammate Xander Dickson’s record for single season goals with 63 and counting.

“What a gifted scorer and what an amazing performance on his very last game at Klöckner Stadium,” Virginia coach Lars Tiffany said.

Tiffany added he was surprised by the celebration from teammates after Cormier’s record-breaking goal, which at first drew a flag from the official before they both realized the magnitude of the moment.

“It was a shock to me,” Tiffany said. “People were running and I was like ‘get off the field, I know we’re up by seven, but get off the field’ and then oh I guess that was a big goal.”

Recognition via accolades has not always come for Cormier, who was not a Tewaaraton Award nominee nor selected in PLL Draft despite leading the country in goals. But the goals have continued to flow for the big Canadian. Saturday’s blitz started with a first quarter goal that gave UVA its first lead at 2-1 and kept coming right up until his final moments at Klöckner after a six-year career. He scored 3 goals in both the second and third quarters, including the record-breaker that set off the celebration.

“I think once it started to get close, everybody wanted to see me get it,” Cormier said about the record. “It’s definitely pretty special, I’m happy my family was here to see it.”

The game took on a physical tone from the get-go due to the Hawks’ size and their aggressive ride. Both teams combined for 9 penalties, including 2 unsportsmanlike calls on McCabe Millon and Ben Wayer for Virginia. The chippiness extended to celebrations at times with players motioning to each other’s benches and tough battles for ground balls.

Virginia started the game on shaky ground with 4 turnovers in the first quarter thanks to that opposing ride. The Cavaliers recovered well after the early struggles against the Hawks, but ill-timed turnovers had plagued the Cavaliers in recent weeks during a four-game skid to end the season. So Coach Tiffany had a little frustration as that first quarter unfolded.

“I was so upset early in the game, we worked on that all week and we did not handle that well at all,” Tiffany said. “That 10-man ride really frustrated us and we still had six goals in the first quarter and it’s like fellas if we just keep the ball in our offense’s hands.”

“They came out flying, their ride was all over us in the first and we had to adjust to that,” Cormier said. “It was definitely a physical and talented lacrosse game here today.”

Once the Cavaliers adjusted and Cormier got going, the Hoos took control. A 5-2 advantage in both the second and third quarters helped Virginia grow the lead to 16-8 before the final frame. The Hoos cruised to the finish line from there.

In addition to Cormier, Connor Shellenberger picked up where he left off in the month of May, tallying 2 goals and 4 assists. Through 10 career NCAA Tournament games, Shellenberger has scored at least 6 points in 8 games. Griffin Schutz added 2 goals, while Joey Terenzi, Ryan Colsey, Jack Boyden, Noah Chizmar, and Millon all chipped in a goal as well. UVA got strong ground ball games from Wayer (8 to tie his career high), Thomas Colucci (6), and Anthony Ghobriel (5) plus multiple caused turnovers from Wayer (4), Chase Yager (3), and Boyden (2) too.

The win for Virginia was their first in nearly a month after four straight losses to ACC rivals Duke, Syracuse, and Notre Dame twice. The Cavaliers now advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the fifth straight season with a chance to make a return trip to Championship Weekend in Philadelphia. Virginia will face the winner of No. 3 seed Johns Hopkins and Lehigh in Towson on Sunday, May 19 with a Final Four spot on the line.

“It’s no secret that we were on a four-game losing streak, didn’t win a game in over a month,” Cormier said. “But once the postseason comes, it’s a different season, everybody is 0-0, everybody is battling to get 4-0.”

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  1. Cavs have a chance at payback with upcoming tilt vs JH. Expect the vets to lead big effort versus Blue Jays.

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