Virginia men win first title since 2000

Five-goal run in 2nd half sends Cavaliers over Duke

April 21, 2003|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Goalie Tillman Johnson made the brilliant look routine, midfielder Billy Glading finished a career weekend and the men's lacrosse team from Virginia looked very much like a potential NCAA champion yesterday, as it routed Duke, 12-6, in the final of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

The Cavaliers, co-No. 2 in The Sun/Channel 2 rankings, won their first ACC tournament since 2000. In front of 3,355 at Klockner Stadium, Virginia (9-2) had a decisive five-goal run in the second half.

Johnson, a junior out of St. Mary's, steadied Virginia in the first quarter, when he made seven of his 14 saves. Tournament Most Valuable Player Glading, a senior midfielder from Bethesda whose overtime goal beat North Carolina in Friday's semifinals, got the Cavaliers' first three goals and finished with a career-high five.

Virginia, which suffered one-goal losses to top-ranked Johns Hopkins and Maryland on successive weekends in March, was dominant during the final 38 minutes, when it outscored Duke 9-2.

"I've never won anything in my life, and this is a happy day for all of us," Johnson said. "This is something to get the ball rolling, into the [NCAA] tournament and, hopefully, the final four."

Virginia's midfield scored 10 goals, as A.J. Shannon had three and Kyle Dixon, a freshman out of Archbishop Spalding, had two. Two former St. Paul's standouts figured in Virginia's formula, as Jack deVilliers controlled nine of the 16 faceoffs over the last three quarters, and Trey Whitty helped limit Blue Devils ace Kevin Cassese to a goal and an assist.

Seven of the past 10 Duke-Virginia games had been decided by one or two goals, but the Cavaliers blew this one open with five straight during a 12-minute stretch that spanned the third and fourth quarters.

A three-goal outburst gave the Blue Devils a 4-3 lead with 9:19 left in the second quarter, but they scored just once during the next 38 minutes. Matt Rewskowski, the ACC's leading scorer, got Duke (8-6) to within 7-5 with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter, but Virginia mixed in some zone and the visitors didn't connect again until Johnson had taken a bow and a seat on the bench.

"We've been a second-half team all year," said Virginia coach Dom Starsia, who got an early gift to celebrate his 51st birthday today. "I like that quality, but I'd like us to figure out the first-half thing."

The Blue Devils were denied in their bid to become the first team to win three straight tournaments since North Carolina took the first six, from 1989 to 1994.

The Blue Devils, who have gone 1-5 in conference play the past two regular seasons, had made Maryland their fifth straight ACC tournament victim in Friday's semifinals. Duke might have to top Hofstra on Saturday to gain its seventh straight NCAA berth.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't play better in the second half," Duke coach Mike Pressler said. "Virginia was a level ahead of us. You could see that."

Duke 1 3 1 1 - 6

Virginia 3 2 3 4 - 12

Goals: D-Rewkowski 2, Cassese, Monfett, Wendling, Zash; V-Glading 5, Shannon 3, Dixon 2, Yevoli, Christmas. Assists: D-Cassese, Brennan, Kincel; V-Yevoli 3, Rotelli 3, Shannon. Saves: D-Kincel 11; V-Johnson 13, Thompson 1.

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