Second game

May 27, 2000|By Bill Free

No.2 Virginia (13-1) vs. No.3 Princeton (11-2)

Time: 3 p.m.

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

TV/Radio: ESPN2/WJFK (1300 AM)

Attack: Virginia's attack is talented and explosive, as usual, and the Cavaliers have proved they can be effective in a shootout or a slowdown. But Virginia prefers a fast-paced game, with sophomore Conor Gill and senior Drew McKnight in the middle of most of the scoring. In contrast, Princeton is more at home in a methodical, total-team offense in which no one is a star. The Tigers lost their top attackman, sophomore B.J. Prager, to a torn anterior cruciate ligament April 22 against Cornell, making them even more conservative on attack. Freshman Sean Hartofilis is now the top goal-scorer on attack with 14. Edge: Virginia.

Midfield: The Cavaliers go three midfields deep, with versatile senior Jay Jalbert being the marquee middie. Jalbert can do a lot of everything, as proved by the superb sophomore season he had on attack before moving back to the midfield the past two years. This season, he is third on the team in scoring with 40 points and seems headed for another first-team All-America spot. Princeton counters with a two-deep midfield that employs three freshmen and not much offensive punch. Senior Josh Sims is far and away the top threat in the midfield with 45 points, with no one else having more than 12. Edge: Virginia.

Defense: Princeton is a defense-oriented team from its close defense to long-stick midfielders. The close defense has received a major boost this season with the addition of junior Ryan Mollett, who was a long-stick middie. Mollett has performed so well in his new position that he is considered an All-America candidate. Freshman Damien Davis has also been outstanding on close defense. To prove the importance of defense for the Tigers, senior co-captain Chris Berrier was moved three weeks ago, with just one regular-season game left in his career, to long-stick midfield from defensive midfield. In addition, the Virginia defense has Ryan Curtis, a hard-hitting throwback to the old days of lacrosse, and he is something special. Edge: Princeton.

Goalkeeper: Neither Princeton's Trevor Tierney nor Virginia's Derek Kenney is mentioned among the top goalies in the nation. Tierney is seldom flashy, but he gets the job done, and Kenney seems to be under the microscope all the time. A less-than-impressive .531 save percentage doesn't help Kenney, but in fairness he doesn't face too many shots. The people who have watched Kenney play all season believe he proved himself last week in the quarterfinals against Duke when he made three outstanding saves on point-blank, one-on-one shots. Edge: Princeton.

Faceoff: Virginia has the good fortune to have two experienced and gifted faceoff specialists in senior Jason Hard and junior David Jenkins. They were both key performers last season in the Cavaliers' drive to a national title, and they came back this season with just as strong a year. With Hard and Jenkins alternating on faceoffs, Virginia can always have a fresh player at that crucial position. Princeton will counter mostly with junior Matt Bailer, who has to take a majority of the faceoffs because there is a big drop-off when the Tigers turn to his backup, Kyle Baugher. Edge: Virginia.

Key for Virginia: The Cavaliers need to avoid a deliberate, Princeton-style game that would negate some of the obvious talent edge for the defending champions. If the Tigers try to slow it down, Virginia has the likes of a smash-mouth defenseman like Curtis to force the action.

Key for Princeton: Shorten the game by holding the ball as much as possible, and just hope the defense can stop the big-play Virginia offense. Easier said than done when you have a mostly young team like the Tigers.

Pick: Virginia.

Team comparison:

Princeton Virginia

Goals scored 11.0 14.4

Goals allowed 7.8 7.9

Shooting pct. .283 .311

Opp. shooting pct. .244 .303

Faceoffs .500 .626

Ground balls +.70 +17

Clearing pct. .816 .833

Opp. clearing pct. .812 .694

Extra-man offense .265 .400

Man-down defense .195 .226

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