Men's Lacrosse to Face Syracuse

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

May 14, 1998

About Today's Game Virginia (8-4 overall) faces Syracuse (10-2 overall) today in the quarterfinals of the 1998 NCAA Division I Lacrosse Tournament at Hofstra Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The game is scheduled to begin 45 minutes after the conclusion of today's first game between Duke and Princeton scheduled for noon.

The Cavaliers are ranked sixth in the current USILA poll and are the tournament's sixth seed. Syracuse is third in the current poll and is the tournament's third seed.

On to Rutgers

The winner of today's contest advances to Rutgers University and the NCAA Tournament semifinals on May 23. This winner of this game plays in the second semifinal game at approximately 2:45 p.m.

The finals are set for May 25 at 10:55 a.m.

The Series vs. the Orangemen

The Cavaliers own a slim 5-4 advantage in a series that has featured some of the most memorable match-ups in recent lacrosse history. Five games have been decided by two goals or less, including the last two (by just one goal each).

Syracuse has won the last two meetings, including an 18-17 overtime win in Charlottesville in the season opener for both teams. Overall Syracuse has won three of the last four meetings dating back to 1995.

The Orangemen won a 22-21 shootout in last season's meeting at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Virginia's last win over the Orangemen was a 17-15 win in Charlottesville two years ago.

The teams have split the two previous NCAA Tournament meetings. The Cavaliers gained a dramatic 15-14 overtime win over the Orangemen in the semifinals of the 1994 NCAA Tournament.

Syracuse handed the Cavaliers a 20-13 loss in the NCAA semifinals the following season.

Quick Review of This Season's First Meeting

Devin Darcangelo scored his fourth goal of the game 1:35 into overtime to give Syracuse an 18-17 come-from-behind victory over Virginia in the first meeting between the two teams this season.

As has been the case when the two traditional powers meet, the contest on UVa's artificial turf field was a wild and exciting affair. The score was tied eight times and the teams were whistled for 19 penalties.

Virginia had two shots in overtime before Darcangelo's game-winner. The second Cavalier shot, by attackman Jay Jalbert, escaped goalie Jason Gebhardt but hit the post just 40 seconds into overtime.

The Orangemen tied the score on some late-game heroics. David Wren put Virginia ahead 17-16 with just 42 seconds remaining in regulation, cranking a 12-yard shot past Gebhardt in an extra-man situation.

But Syracuse won the ensuing face-off and Casey Powell, who had five goals and four assists, found Matt Cutia on the fast break. Cutia whirled and scored from five yards out with 19 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

The Cavaliers held their biggest lead at 15-11 with 12:34 left in the fourth quarter when Drew Melchionni scored on a pass from Tucker Radebaugh.

Casey Powell scored three of Syracuse's next four goals to cut Virginia's lead to 16-15 with 2:58 remaining and set the stage for overtime.

Johns Hopkins is Lone Common Opponent

Johns Hopkins is the only opponent Virginia and Syracuse have in common this season. The Cavaliers fell at home to the Blue Jays 13-10 on March 11. Syracuse defeated the Jays 14-13 three days later in Baltimore.

Sixth Consecutive NCAA Tournament Bid

This is the sixth consecutive season Virginia has received an NCAA Tournament bid and the eighth bid in the last nine seasons.

The current streak of six bids is the second-longest NCAA Tournament streak in school history. The Cavaliers appeared in nine consecutive tournaments from 1978-86.

Cavaliers Making 22nd Tourney Appearance

Virginia's bid to the 1998 NCAA Tournament is the 22nd tourney bid in school history, third-most in tournament history. Only Johns Hopkins (27) and Maryland (23) have received more bids than UVa.

The Cavaliers appeared in the first NCAA Tournament in 1971 (lost to Navy 9-6) and won the title in 1972. The 1972 championship is the only NCAA title in school history. The Cavaliers were also national champions in 1952 and 1970 prior to the inception of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers' all-time NCAA Tournament record, and the record under the tutelage of head coach Dom Starsia, by round is below.

  
             All-Time    Under Dom Starsia
Round  Record    Pct.    Record  Pct.
1st     4-2      .667    3-0    1.000
QF     12-7      .632    3-2     .600
SF      5-7      .417    2-1     .667
F       1-4      .200    0-2     .000
Total  22-20     .524    8-5     .615

Third Time as Sixth Seed

This is the third time the Cavaliers have been the tournament's third seed since the field was expanded to 12 teams in 1987. Virginia was the sixth seed in 1990 and 1991.

Being the sixth seed wasn't very good to the Cavaliers in those early '90s contests as they dropped both games. Virginia fell to Rutgers 7-6 in the first round in 1990, and lost to Towson State 14-13 in the following year's first round.

Their 16-10 win over Hobart last weekend seems to have reversed the sixth-seed jinx for the Cavaliers.

Virginia advanced to the semifinals as the sixth seed in 1973 before losing to Johns Hopkins 12-9 in the semis.

Virginia Seeks Return to Semifinals

The Cavaliers look to return to the semifinals for the first time in two years this afternoon against Syracuse. Virginia reached the semis for three consecutive seasons from 1994-96, but hasn't been since.

Overall, the Cavaliers have advanced to the semifinals 12 times in 21 previous NCAA Tournament appearances.

Third Toughest Schedule

Virginia has played the nation's third-toughest schedule this season according to US Lacrosse's Strength of Schedule rankings. North Carolina has faced the toughest schedule this season, followed by Maryland.

Virginia's opponents have a combined record of 118-53 (.690). (Duke, Maryland and now Syracuse are included twice since the Cavaliers have played each twice.)

The Cavaliers' eight games against teams with 10+ wins are tied with North Carolina for the national lead.

In the Power Ratings, Virginia is listed third behind Princeton and Maryland.

Starsia Returns to Long Island

Virginia head coach Dom Starsia is making a homecoming of sorts with this weekend's trip to Long Island.

Starsia grew up in Valley Stream, N.Y., just minutes from the Hofstra campus in Hempstead. He graduated from Valley Stream High School where he was an outstanding football player.

He had never seen a lacrosse game before entering Brown University in 1970. But showing a natural talent for the game, he became one of the best defensemen in Brown history. He was a third-team All-American in 1973 and 1974, earning All-Ivy and All-New England honors as well.

Four Cavaliers Also Return Home

Four players on Virginia's roster join head coach Dom Starsia in returning home to Long Island for today's game--Jay Davenport, Jay Jalbert, James Kenny, and Drew Melchionni.

Jalbert hails from Huntington and graduated from Cold Spring Harbor High School. He leads the team with 33 goals this season.

Davenport is from Plandome, but prepped at St. George's School in Rhode Island. He has seen action in four contests this season as a reserve defenseman.

Garden City High School features two alums on the UVa roster--Melchionni and Kenny. Melchionni is one of the top defensive middies in the country. He has scored 19 goals this season, while Kenny has played in two games as a reserve midfielder.

Two Cavaliers Named All-ACC

Drew Melchionni and Tucker Radebaugh were named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team this season. This is the first time either player has been so honored.

Melchionni, a senior from Garden City, N.Y., has been a mainstay in the midfield throughout his career. He is third on the team with 19 goals this season and was a preseason All-American.

Radebaugh, a junior from Glen Arm, Md., is one of the nation's most versatile players who excels in both midfield and the attack. He is among the leaders in the ACC with 51 points and 27 goals.

Five Named to All-ACC Tourney Team

Virginia placed five players on the All-ACC Tournament team recently--attackmen Jay Jalbert, Drew McKnight and Tucker Radebaugh, midfielder Drew Melchionni and defenseman Ryan Curtis.

Tournament champion Maryland led the way with six players, including tournament MVP Scott Hochstadt. Duke and North Carolina each had one player named to the team.

Seven Cavaliers Tally vs. Hobart

With a team that features only seven seniors and underclassmen as the top-three scorers, it is not surprising that only six Cavaliers had ever scored a goal in an NCAA Tournament game before last weekend's match-up against Hobart.

But seven Wahoos joined the scoring parade vs. the Statesmen as Virginia scored 16 goals all told.

Tucker Radebaugh had scored four NCAA Tournament goals in his career before this year and almost topped that last Saturday with two scores. His six career NCAA Tournament goals leads the team.

He is followed closely by Jay Jalbert. Jalbert did not score in the last season's tournament loss to Maryland, but he broke loose for five scores against Hobart.

Jamie Leachman had also not scored in the tournament in his career before erupting for four goals vs. Hobart.

David Wren tallied once against Hobart and now has four career tournament goals.

Michael Leahy hit the back of the net once last weekend to bring his career total to three tournament goals. Drew McKnight's two goals in the win over Hobart were the first goals in his career in the tournament.

Freshman Hanley Holcomb also scored once in the first NCAA Tournament game of his career.

Among those who did not score against Hobart, but have scored in previous NCAA Tournaments, include Henry Oakey (two goals), David Baruch (one) and Drew Melchionni (one).

Sanderson Joins Elite Group

Senior goalie Chris Sanderson went the whole way in goal for Virginia last weekend against Hobart. He recorded eight saves, while allowing 10 goals. The start vs. the Statesmen enabled him to join an exclusive club in the history of Virginia lacrosse.

A starter since his sophomore season in 1996, he is one of only four goalies in school history to start in three different NCAA Tournaments and the first in a decade.

Rodney Rullman was the first Cavalier goalie to start in three different NCAA Tournaments. He was between the pipes when Virginia captured its first NCAA title in 1972 and returned for the 1973 and 1974 tournaments. J.B. Meyer started in goal for Virginia in the NCAA Tournament in 1982-83-84, and was followed by Peter Sheehan in 1985-86-88.

Starsia Second in UVa Wins

With Virginia's dramatic 11-9 win over Duke in last month's ACC Tournament, head coach Dom Starsia passed Glenn Thiel and moved into sole possession of second place on UVa's all-time wins list. Starsia's Cavalier squads have now compiled a 66-23 (.742) record in six seasons. Theil's record at Virginia was 63-30 (.677).

Jim Adams is Virginia's all-time leader with a 137-60 (.695) record from 1978-92.

Starsia, who coached at Brown University from 1983-92, has a 167-69 (.708) record in 16 years as a head coach.

This is the 11th appearance for a Starsia-coached team in the NCAA Tournament. He led Brown to five appearances (1985-87-90-91-92) and has guided the Cavaliers to sixth straight berths. Overall, his teams have appeared in the NCAA Tournament every year since 1990.

His 100th win came in 1992, when his Brown squad topped Cornell to wrap up an NCAA bid. His Brown teams were Ivy League champions twice (1985 and 1991) and went to the NCAA Tournament four of his last six seasons (he is 9-10 overall in NCAA play). Starsia is a two-time winner of the Morris Touchstone award (Division I Coach of the Year, 1985 and 1991). In 1992, Starsia was honored by the Rhode Island Organization of Sportswriters and Sportscasters with the Frank Lanning Award (lifetime achievement of overall contribution to the Rhode Island sports community).

Starsia was named ACC Co-Coach of the year for 1995, and he was picked as the 1997 ACC Coach of the Year. Four of his six UVa squads have finished the regular season in first place in the ACC.

Jalbert on Fire the Last Month

Sophomore Jay Jalbert had some large shoes to fill this season in replacing Doug Knight and Michael Watson on the Virginia attack. He has found the net 15 times in the last four contests, including seven in two ACC Tournament games and five vs. Hobart, and now has a team-leading 33 goals. He also has fed 14 assists, a career high.

Jalbert has two five-goal games this season--North Carolina and Hobart. Jalbert needs one goal to enter the top 10 in the Virginia record book for goals in a season. His total is currently 14th in school history.

A look at the top goal scoring seasons in school history is below.

        Player, year          Goals
    1.  Doug Knight, 1996        56
    2.  Knight, 1995             52
    3.  Michael Watson, 1996     49
    4.  Kevin Pehlke, 1991       44
    5.  Knight, 1997             39
    6.  Chase Monroe, 1988       37
    7.  Pete Eldredge, 1972      36
    8.  six with                 34
        most recent: Greg 
        Traynor in 1994
    14. Jay Jalbert, 1997        33

McKnight Returns to Action

Sophomore attack Drew McKnight suffered a separated right shoulder at the 9:55 mark of the second quarter against Maryland in the finals of the ACC Tournament on April 19. He did not return against the Terps and sat out the Bucknell game six days later. But with a two-week lay off, McKnight returned with gusto for the NCAA Tournament.

He scored twice vs. Hobart last Saturday, including finding the back of the net with 51 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the score at seven-all. That was Virginia's second goal in a five-goal run that gave the Cavaliers the lead for good en route to the 16-10 win.

McKnight leads the team (and is 10th nationally) with 22 assists this season. He is fourth on the team with 18 goals.

He scored a career-high five goals to highlight Virginia's 11-9 win over Duke in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

One Goal Games Not to Their Liking

Despite the remarkable comeback against Duke that resulted in a 12-11 victory on April 11, the Cavaliers have not typically been smiling after one-goal games. Under head coach Dom Starsia, the Cavalier are 8-10 in games decided by one goal and have lost all five postseason contests (either ACC or NCAA Tournaments).

Radebaugh Reaches Century Mark

Attack Tucker Radebaugh leads the team in total points (51) and assists (24) this season and is second with 27 goals. The junior from Glen Arm, Md., is the leading active Cavalier in career goals (61) and is second in career assists (42). He recorded five points (2g, 3a) vs. Hobart last weekend to reach the 100-point plateau for his career.

Scoring Down in '98

The Cavaliers have been known as one of the most prolific scoring teams in the nation throughout the 1990s. They have scored more than 250 goals for four consecutive seasons (1994-97), including a school-record 275 in 1996. They also averaged at least 15.0 goals per game in those four seasons. But with the loss of Doug Knight and Michael Watson from last year's squad, the Cavaliers have not been quite so explosive this season. They have scored 166 goals in 12 games, an average of 13.8 goals per game. That is the lowest figure since the 1993 squad averaged 12.7 goals per game. Nonetheless, Virginia is still among the national leaders in scoring, ranking sixth nationally in goals per game.

While the offense is down from a year ago, the defense has held steady. The Cavalier defense is allowing just 9.5 goals per game, the best figure since the 1994 squad relinquished 8.9 goals per game. Virginia is ninth in the nation in scoring margin, out-scoring the opposition by an average of 4.33 goals per game.

Three First-Timers on Defense

Everybody knows the Virginia offense would assume a different look this season with the loss of Doug Knight and Michael Watson from the attack. But the defense also sports a few new faces this season due to the loss of Darren Mahoney and Tommy Smith. Providing the protection for goalie Chris Sanderson this season are sophomore Ryan Curtis, junior Doug Davies and senior Penn Leachman, who are all seeing the most significant action of their careers this season as starters. Curtis is typically assigned to the opponent's top scorer, while Davies is the crease defenseman. Leachman, whose 44 ground balls lead this group, is the third defenseman.

Karl Zeller, a three-year starter on defense, and rookie John Harvey provide support as reserves. Peter Ragosa is the primary long-pole middie. David Winegrad has recovered from a serious preseason knee injury and is the second long-stick middie.

Radebaugh Ends Scoring Drought vs. Hobart

Tucker Radebaugh is Virginia's leading scorer this season with 24 assists and 51 points, and is second with 27 goals. Prior to last weekend's first round encounter with Hobart he found himself in a mini scoring slump. He was held goal-less in the ACC Tournament by Duke and Maryland and scored one goal in limited action in a 27-5 win over Bucknell in the next game. But he got back on track with two goals and a game-high three assists in the win over Hobart.

Radebaugh has scored at least two goals in every game but four this season. He scored a career-high four goals against Mercyhurst, Princeton, North Carolina and the first game against Duke.

Holding the Opposition to Single Digits

Virginia has had remarkable success this season when holding the opposition to fewer than 10 goals, winning all six games. That contrasts to a 2-4 mark when the other team scores as least 10 goals. Virginia's 16-10 win over Hobart last weekend is one of only two wins this season when the Cavaliers allowed more than nine goals. The Cavaliers have won 24 consecutive contests (dating back to 1995) when they allow less than 10 goals.

Four Top Scorers Turn In Career Highs

The Cavaliers feature seven players who have scored at least 10 goals this season led by sophomore attack Jay Jalbert's 33. Of these seven, five Wahoos have registered career-high goal totals--Jay Jalbert, Jamie Leachman, Michael Leahy, Drew Melchionni and Tucker Radebaugh. Drew McKnight is just four goals away from equalling his freshman total of 22 last season.

In addition, Virginia's top-four assist men all have posted career-high numbers this season--Jalbert, McKnight, Melchionni and Radebaugh.

Sluggish After Halftime

The Cavaliers have led at halftime in nine games this season (all but the loss to Johns Hopkins and both losses to Maryland). But they have had some trouble maintaining the intensity in the third quarter, which has been most evident in four recent contests.

In the game against Duke on April 11, the Cavaliers held a 9-5 advantage at the break, but the Blue Devils out-scored Virginia 5-0 in the third period to take the lead. The homestanding Wahoos turned the tables on the visitors from Durham by out-scoring the Blue Devils 3-0 in the final 15 minutes to gain the win.

The situation was the same in the ACC Tournament win over Duke less than a week later. The Cavaliers led at halftime 7-6, but were out-scored by the Blue Devils 2-0 in the third quarter. Virginia came alive in the fourth quarter (again) as Drew McKnight tallied two goals in the first two minutes to give the Cavaliers the lead for good. Jay Jalbert pushed Virginia's lead to two goals less than four minutes in and Hanley Holcomb added an insurance goal (his first) for the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers and Maryland were tied at six at halftime of the ACC Tournament finals, but the Terps out-scored Virginia 5-2 in the third quarter to take the lead for good. Maryland pushed the lead to five goals in the fourth quarter as Virginia could get no closer than two goals after midway through the third quarter.

The situation was the same last weekend against Hobart. Virginia held a slim 3-2 lead at the break. Hobart came out after halftime on fire, scoring on four consecutive shots at one point, and jumped to a 7-5 lead late in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers got their offense in gear midway through the second half by scoring five unanswered goals to wrestle the lead away from Hobart and take a 16-10 victory.

Falling on Hard Times

Sophomore face-off specialist Jason Hard won 61.8 percent (176 of 285) of his face-offs last season and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's Rookie of the Year.

His winning percentage last season was the best by a Cavalier since Gabby Roe won 62.7 percent of his face-offs in 1990. This season hasn't been as fruitful for Hard, who has won less than half of his face-offs. As a team Virginia has won just 45.8 percent of its face-offs. Hard has won just 42.6 percent (101 of 237). Freshman David Jenkins has the best winning percentage on the team at 57.1 percent (36 of 63).

Virginia has won the face-off battle just three times this season--against Mercyhurst, North Carolina and Bucknell.

Home Away From Home

Virginia has played a number of games on Hofstra University's campus throughout the years. In fact, the Cavaliers' success in Hempstead is as spectacular as that in Charlottesville, giving them a "home" feel. The Cavaliers have travelled to Long Island to play the Flying Dutchmen of Hofstra 12 times and left with nine wins since 1957.

Today's game isn't the first time the Cavaliers have played an NCAA Tournament game on Hofstra's campus. In 1973 Virginia downed the homestanding Flying Dutchmen 12-5 in the quarterfinals.

UVa has also played several other schools at Hofstra in neutral site contests since 1983. The Cavaliers are undefeated in six neutral games at Hofstra. They have defeated Brown four times and Delaware and Massachusetts once each. Overall Virginia owns a 15-3 (.833) record at Hofstra.