Virginia puts away Delaware, 17-10

Curtis shuts down high-scoring Grant

May 24, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Virginia's faceoff edge was evident early. The scoreboard was another matter, as the Cavaliers needed doses of depth and Ryan Curtis to turn a tight game into a 17-10 romp over Delaware in the NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinals yesterday.

A crowd of 6,526 at Princeton Stadium and Virginia's defense sat back and took in the John Grant show in the first half. The nation's leading point-getter had a hand in all but one of the goals that had the Blue Hens within 8-7 at the break, but Curtis dominated their matchup in the second half to help his team advance to the final four.

The third-seeded Cavaliers (11-3) will meet Johns Hopkins in the second semifinal at Byrd Stadium Saturday (3 p.m.). The Blue Jays won their March 27 meeting, 16-15.

Virginia, which used at least six more players, held sixth-seeded Delaware (14-3) to its second-lowest scoring total of the season. The Blue Hens overcame a six-goal deficit in their first-round win over UMBC, and they had thoughts of another comeback when they drew within 13-10 early in the fourth quarter, but they were off the mark on their last 16 shots.

Grant had staked the Blue Hens to leads of 4-0 and 7-6 before Curtis, Virginia's junior defenseman, finally wore him down. Grant finished the season with 110 points, the second-highest total in Division I history, but only one came in the second half.

"Everyone knew we were playing a pretty good player [Grant]," Curtis said. "I had to tell everyone else not to watch him. In the first half, everyone got caught up in watching him do his stuff, which he does very well. We stopped watching him, and started playing."

With some slick stick-handling and overpowering athleticism that brought Gary Gait to mind, Grant had three goals and as many assists in the first half. The second half was another matter, as the game within the game saw Curtis particularly step up in the last 12 minutes, when the Cavaliers wrapped it up with four unanswered goals.

Virginia took only two other shots in the fourth quarter, and when its ball movement didn't produce goals, it ate time off the clock. With Virginia on top 15-10 with eight minutes left, Grant seemed to have enough. He took a knee on the rain-soaked turf, partly from fatigue, partly from frustration.

"He [Curtis] was trying to get his stick in between my hands, interrupt my power cradle," Grant said. "It seemed to be quite effective. He stripped me a few times, and I began throwing some bad backhand passes."

Virginia coach Dom Starsia couldn't comprehend Virginia's carelessness in the first half, when he said his team "probably had 15 unforced errors." The Cavaliers settled down, got some good stops from freshman goalie Derek Kenny and began to cash in all of the faceoffs that were won by David Jenkins and Jason Hard.

Virginia scored five straight goals to take a 5-4 lead, and another 5-0 run gave it an 11-7 edge with 6: 19 left in the third quarter. The Cavaliers went ahead for good, at 8-7, with 1: 51 left in the first half when Tucker Radebaugh fed a wide-open Drew McKnight on the left wing.

Both had four goals and two assists. McKnight matched his career high for points. Radebaugh's effort included his 100th career goal, but passing the century mark wasn't the only sentimental value involved for the senior from St. Paul's.

"Every year, all we talk about is making the final four," Radebaugh said. "It's expected of Virginia. We went there my first year, and not being there the last two years, it shocked me, depressed me. To do this as a senior is great."

Virginia 2 6 5 4 -- 17

Delaware 4 3 2 1 -- 10

Goals: V--McKnight 4, Jalbert 4, Radebaugh 4, Baruch 2, Holcomb 2, Hanley, Broadstreet; D--Grant 4, Carney 2, DeBusschere, J. Lavey, K. Lavey, Bruder. Assists: V--Gill, McKnight 2, Jalbert 2, Radebaugh 2, Henry; D--Grant 3, Carney, Thearle. Saves: V--Kenney 13; D--Jedlicka 11.

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