HAMPTON, Va. - Looking to finish the non-conference slate with a statement win, the VMI lacrosse team defeated host Hampton by a 14-1 score Saturday afternoon at Armstrong Stadium in Hampton, Virginia.
The 14 goals is a season high for VMI (2-7, 0-3) as the Keydets picked up their second win of the year and head coach Jon Birsner's fourth career victory at the helm. Freshman Hunter Duford earned his second hat trick of the year to lead VMI to the win. He was the only Keydet with multiple goals on the day as 11 others scored one apiece.
Freshman John Daniel was outstanding in the VMI attack by dishing out a season-high five assists, tying for the third most for a single game in program history and first time since Mickey Hofmeister had five assists against Presbyterian in 2011.
“Today was a great team effort and I'm proud of these young men,” Birsner said. “I thought we played with a lot of maturity and poise. Playing against a lot of zone defense is not easy but Coach Purpura put these guys in a position to be successful and they capitalized. When most of your goals are assisted then you know your offense is working at a high rate and freshman Johnny Daniel is leading that front. He's really developing into a quarterback role for our offense.
“I was really proud of the full team effort in the second half. Players stepped up and a lot of guys got their first points. Michael Hutwelker came off the bench in the 2nd half and saved the ball at 85 percent to earn our brotherhood game ball and the win.”
Freshmen Chase Goldstein, Jonathan Durham and Trey Rustand scored their first career goals as Keydets while sophomores Emory Lieber and Austin Hughes scored their second career goals.
The Keydets raced out to an 11-0 lead by the half by scoring four in the opening quarter and seven in the second stanza. VMI finished the game with three goals in the third quarter while holding the Pirates to a single goal during the game, the lowest opponent score of the season.
VMI outshot the Pirates by a 53-25 tally and outhustled Hampton to an 11-5 groundball ratio. The Keydets were dominant at faceoff by claiming 14 faceoff wins to the Pirates' five, went a perfect 19-19 on clear attempts and went 2-2 on extra-man opportunities while holding the Pirates to an 0-3 count for the category.
Junior Wesley Sanders scored a goal for a point and has now earned at least one point in 23 consecutive games dating back to the third game of the 2016 season. Senior Dale Mattice poured out three assists in addition to a goal.
Freshman AJ Krstulovic was a perfect 7-7 on faceoff attempts. Goalie Joe Riccadonna picked up his fourth career win and had two saves in the first quarter. Benjamin Stump played the second quarter in the circle and Michael Hutwelker played the entire second half, allowing just the one goal by Hampton's Kier Johnson in the third period.
VMI returns to conference action next Saturday with a home game against Jacksonville. The first faceoff is slated for a noon start at Drill Field No. 2.