Cavaliers Play First Night Game of the Season Tuesday

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Virginia begins a stretch that features six games in 18 days tomorrow night at Klckner Stadium against Mount St. Mary’s. The game is scheduled to faceoff at 7 pm.

The Cavaliers remain No. 2 in the USILA coaches poll behind reigning national champions Syracuse. Virginia is 3-0 this season and has put together impressive performances against Drexel and Stony Brook so far.

Last Saturday they traveled to Long Island and made quick work of Stony Brook with a 20-10 win. Garrett Billings was the star of the game, tying a school record with eight goals, but it was not good enough to win ACC Player of the Week recognition. He joins Butch McCleary (vs. Navy in 1958) and Doug Knight (vs. Syracuse in 1996) as the only Cavaliers to score eight goals in one game. In addition to his eight goals, Billings assisted on three others and finished with 11 total points. His 11 points are tied for third in school history and the most by a Cavalier since Mike Caravana recorded 11 against Loyola in 1983.

“We’ve been playing hard the whole season, but we haven’t been that sharp,” said head coach Dom Starsia after the Stony Brook win. “Today I think offensively we began to demonstrate the team that we can be. I thought our three attackmen (Billings, Danny Glading, Steele Stanwick) in particular were on their game and that’s where we’re going to get our focus from.”

Through three games they have combined to score 22 goals and add 20 assists. Billings leads the country with 14 goals, while Glading is tied for the national lead with eight assists. Stanwick’s 12 points (6g, 6a) are tops among freshmen so far.

Mount St. Mary’s is playing its first game of the season Tuesday night. The Mount is looking to rebound from a tough season last year in which it finished with a 2-12 overall record. Head coach Tom Gravante enters his 14th season at the helm and oversees a roster where 29 of 43 players are freshmen or sophomores. In addition, five of the 10 projected starters this season are freshmen.

Defense will be the team’s strength this season according to Gravante. Graduate student Brendan Flanagan and juniors Russell Moncure and Matt Nealis provide the backbone of the defense, while T.C. DiBartolo looks to build on a strong freshman year in the cage.

Lack of experience characterizes the offense as four of the top-five players on attack are freshmen. Senior midfield starter Geery Grant is the leading returning scorer from a year ago with 13 goals and 15 total points. Sophomore middie Brendan Harrison tallied 11 goals last spring, while sophomore Mark Stapor is the leading returnee on attack; he scored five goals in 2008.

This is the fifth consecutive year the team’s have squared off against each other. Last season Virginia gained a 20-2 win in Emmitsburg. Billings was high man for the Cavaliers with four goals and two assists as Virginia outshot The Mount 65-14. DiBartolo was outstanding in goal for Mount St. Mary’s, making 18 saves in 30 minutes of action in the first half in just the fourth game of his career.

Virginia has a 17-game winning streak going back to 2001 in regular-season mid-week games, including a 10-4 win over Bryant last Monday.

In addition to Billings, several other Cavaliers set or tied their career high for goals Saturday against Stony Brook. Rhamel Bratton, playing not far from his hometown, tallied three times to set a personal best, while fellow middie Brian Carroll equaled his best with three scores. Freshman Steele Stanwick (2 goals) and sophomore Chris Clements (1) also tied their career high, while freshman Matt Kugler scored the first goal of his career.

The Mount is the fourth consecutive opponent to open its season against the Cavaliers so far this season.