Virginia sticks No. 1 UM with loss

Cavaliers defense stuffs Terps, 7-2

April 01, 2001|By John Galinsky | John Galinsky,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - When the Virginia men's lacrosse team left Baltimore last Saturday, it didn't leave its confidence, its intensity or - most importantly - its hot, young goalie behind.

Still riding the momentum of their four-overtime victory over Johns Hopkins, Tillman Johnson and the seventh-ranked Cavaliers picked up where they left off, dominating top-ranked Maryland at Klockner Stadium yesterday.

The 7-2 victory marked Virginia's third consecutive win - and second against a Top 5 opponent - after three straight losses.

"I think we learned last week the kind of intensity and emotion we need to bring [to] every game," said junior attackman Conor Gill, who delivered four assists as Virginia (4-3, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) handed the Terrapins (7-1, 2-1) their first loss. "Our goal was to be intense for 60 minutes, and I think we did that."

Johnson was brilliant all afternoon, recording 16 saves. The freshman stopped 18 shots the week before, when the Cavaliers rallied past the Blue Jays, 9-8, in the longest game in school history.

"I thought I had a good game last week. I was feeling confident," Johnson said. "Today, I was seeing the ball really well in the beginning. When I play well in the beginning, then I can have a great game."

It was a miserable day for Maryland, which last week assumed the No. 1 ranking for the first time in three years. The Terrapins trailed 6-0 at the half and finished with their lowest offensive output since a 10-1 loss to Army in 1948.

Andrew "Buggs" Combs, the national scoring leader, had scored at least three goals in every game this season. But, he was shut down by Johnson and Virginia's defense until he scored a meaningless goal with 26 seconds left.

"I've gotten a lot of the credit. I deserve a lot of the blame for this one," Combs said. "I took a lot of shots and I hit the goalie right on the stick."

Hanley Holcomb and Justin Mullen each scored twice for the Cavaliers, whose season seemed to be slipping away as recently as last Saturday. Having already lost to Syracuse, Princeton and Notre Dame, they trailed Johns Hopkins 7-3 before a furious comeback.

Virginia coach Dom Starsia said that win, coming on Gill's goal in the fourth overtime, made yesterday's performance possible in many ways.

"The only thing that counts is genuine confidence, and you only get that by doing something," he said. "Going up to Hopkins and winning the way we did, there was a carryover. I was a little worried there might be more of a hangover than a carryover."

That was evident from the outset, as Virginia jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter. Mullen scored off a nifty pass from Gill, Chris Rotelli bounced in a shot from a tough angle and Holcomb fired in two rockets from long range.

On the other end, the Cavaliers were impenetrable. Sophomore defenseman Ned Bowen shadowed Combs all afternoon. Just as crucially, Mark Koontz and Brett Hughes smothered Maryland's primary feeders, Mike Mollot and Dan LaMonica. And on the rare occasions the defensemen were beaten, Johnson was there.

Finally, LaMonica dodged Hughes and scored with 9:09 left in the third quarter.

It took all of seven seconds for the Cavaliers to respond. David Jenkins won the ensuing faceoff and fed Ian Shure for a goal, making it 6-1.

"They talked about last week being the turning point of their season. Certainly we helped them today," Terrapins coach Dick Edell said. "Our offensive confidence was shaken a little bit. The shots that were going in the last seven games, they weren't going in today."

Maryland 0 0 1 1 - 2 Virginia 4 2 0 1 - 7

Goals: M-Combs, D.LaMonica; V-Holcomb 2, Mullen 2, Rotelli, Shannon, Shure. Assists: V-Gill 4, Jenkins. Saves: M-McGinnis 13; V-Johnson 16.

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