UVA ends perfect season, wins NCAA men’s LAX title
PHILADELPHIA – For more than two months, college lacrosse has dominated the headlines – but not because of what has happened on the field.With the rape allegations against three members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team casting a long shadow, Virginia coach Dom Starsia hopes his Cavaliers have emerged as a positive story for a sport badly in need of one with their dominating victory over Massachusetts in the NCAA men’s championship Monday.Virginia completed an undefeated season with its fourth NCAA title, beating unseeded UMass 15-7 behind five goals each from Matt Poskay and Matt Ward.”We are not angels in any regard,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “And we’re not preaching to anybody, but I’d like to think we do it the right way. We get nice kids and they stumble along the way as they grow up, but in general we have respectful kids, considerate young men.””I think you can hold this group up as a little bit of an ideal and say here’s what the sport is capable of.”In late March, Duke officials suspended the school’s highly ranked team amid allegations that a woman hired as a stripper was raped at a party hosted by team members. Three team members have been charged.
Virginia (17-0) proved to be very capable this season, becoming the second consecutive undefeated champion and the 12th to post a perfect season. Johns Hopkins went 16-0 last year.”The whole undefeated thing snuck up on us, but to come in here as expected and do this is a very special moment for our program,” Starsia said. “I’m very proud of our guys.”Before a record crowd of 47,062, Massachusetts (13-5) made a game of it for the first half but ultimately could not contain the top-seeded Cavaliers. Virginia spent much of the first half watching its shots sail high and wide.”I think we were uncharacteristically tight late in the second quarter,” Starsia said. “It was just a question of tightening things down a little bit.”But with the Cavaliers holding a 7-6 lead, UMass defenseman Jack Reid was called for a costly slashing penalty on a faceoff. Poskay capitalized on the man advantage with his third goal of the day. That proved to be a turning point as Virginia reeled off five more goals to take control.”I’m sure it hurt us,” Reid said. “If I could take it back, I would.”
UMass rallied from a 4-1 deficit to tie the game early in the third quarter, but the Minutemen just couldn’t keep pace with Virginia’s overwhelming offensive attack.”They get an extra guy out there and they can really sling the ball around,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said.UMass tied it 5-5 early in the third quarter and pulled to 7-6, but the Cavaliers scored six straight goals to make it 13-6 with 9:37 left.”It’s tough to stay with them for that long a stretch,” Reid saidSean Morris, who entered the game as UMass’ leading scorer with 33 goals, was held without one. UMass freshman Doc Schneider played well in goal but stood little chance against a Cavaliers offense that featured four players with more than 30 goals this year.The Cavaliers dominated the first quarter, pinning UMass in its defensive end for several minutes at a time. Poskay scored twice and Ward made it 4-1 on an empty-net goal after Schneider came out to help defensively.
“It’s hard for any goalie to keep pace when you’re getting shots like that,” said Ward, who earned Most Outstanding Player honors and finished the tournament with an NCAA-record 16 goals in four games.Virginia outshot UMass 55-31 and went 3-for-3 on extra-man opportunities.But the Minutemen cut the deficit to 5-4 at the half, sparked by a goal from Rory Pedrick with 9:39 left and another 10 seconds later when Jake Deane won the faceoff and hustled to beat Virginia’s Kip Turner. And even though UMass would eventually tie it up, Virginia would prove to be too much.Starsia hopes a great performance before a record crowd can boost the image of a sport that as suffered so publicly.”I just think that this was a fitting end to a little bit of a tumultuous regular season and hopefully people can walk away form this weekend thinking, ‘There’s college lacrosse,”‘ Starsia said.
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