UVa. experiences upsetting start

Defending champ looks to rebound after dropping pair at Pioneer Face-Off

College Lacrosse

Notebook

March 03, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Virginia men's lacrosse coach Dom Starsia said two weeks ago that the Cavaliers don't plan to use youth as an excuse this season.

And Starsia certainly was not going that route after the reigning national champions suffered two of the more surprising upsets in recent memory: falling by 7-6 to Air Force on Friday and 9-7 to Denver on Sunday. Those two teams were both unranked and a combined 12-15 last year.

He didn't blame the Cavaliers' 0-2 weekend at the Pioneer Face-Off Classic in Denver on the team's rigorous travel schedule or the effects of playing in a higher altitude either.

"We played like we had the burden of the world on our shoulders," said Starsia, whose team fell to 1-2 and from second to ninth in the Inside Lacrosse media poll. "I told folks that people are going to need to be patient with us, but I don't think anyone anticipated how the weekend turned out. We dug ourselves a hole; now we have to start climbing our way out."

The opposition, though, gets far more difficult. On Saturday, the Cavaliers play host to No. 2 Syracuse, followed a week later by a home game against No. 4 Princeton. A national championship game rematch with top-ranked Johns Hopkins looms in three weeks.

The Cavaliers do not face another team currently ranked outside the top 17 the rest of the season.

"Somebody was saying that Syracuse is a perfect antidote and I said, `Excuse me,' " said Starsia, who held everybody accountable for the two losses, saying the attack was sloppy, the midfield wasn't productive enough and the defense was not as crisp as expected. "But we have to get back a sharper focus and Syracuse is certainly a game that gets everybody's attention."

Starsia said he felt his team was walking into a potentially dangerous situation by traveling to Denver for the tournament. In the past three years, Maryland, Syracuse and Duke have had some close calls in the tournament, but they experienced nothing like what the Cavaliers went through.

"It probably wasn't the best piece of scheduling I've done in my entire life, but it's all hindsight now," Starsia said. "We probably did the best and worst for things for Western lacrosse. Beating us is probably the best thing that could happen for their teams, programs and administrations. But on the other hand, it was probably the worst because they probably won't get anybody to go out there and play them again."

Tragedy at Ohio State

Michael R. Breschi, the 3-year-old son of Ohio State coach and 1986 Loyola High graduate Joe Breschi, was killed Monday after reportedly being struck by a vehicle outside a Clintonville, Ohio, preschool.

Christine Breschi, wife of the Buckeyes coach, was securing another child into a safety seat in her minivan when Michael walked away from the car and was struck by a SUV driven by a Columbus woman, according to a report from WNBS-10 TV in Columbus.

In his seventh season at the helm of Ohio State, Joe Breschi, who was a star defenseman at North Carolina after a standout high school career at Loyola, led the Buckeyes to their first NCAA bid last year.

No. 15 Ohio State (1-1), which beat Navy, 12-9, on Saturday, will be at UMBC on Sunday at noon in a game originally scheduled for Saturday.

Injured defensemen

Virginia senior defenseman Brett Hughes, a second-team All-American last season, fell to the turf after colliding with a Denver player Sunday.

He was taken off the field on a stretcher to a local hospital, but released later that day.

Starsia, who declined to comment on the nature of the injury, listed his senior captain as questionable for Saturday's game against Syracuse.

Maryland senior defenseman Chris Passavia, a two-time All-American, missed about three quarters with an injured shoulder against Georgetown last Saturday, but Terps coach Dave Cottle expects him to play this weekend against Duke.

Matt Garcia, a Massachusetts defenseman and preseason All-American, sat out yesterday's game against Hartford after suffering an undisclosed injury this past weekend against North Carolina.

The week ahead

Team (W-L)

Johns Hopkins (1-0)

Schedule

vs. Princeton, Saturday, 1

Jeff Zrebiec's skinny

Jesse Schwartzman became the first true freshman to start in goal for Jays since 1993. This week's starter against the Tigers is anyone's guess.

Team

Loyola (1-0)

Schedule

at Hofstra, Saturday, 1:30

Jeff Zrebiec's skinny

In Week One, Loyola's freshman midfielders appeared as good as advertised. Hofstra has similar midfield youth but a nine-game slide vs. the Greyhounds.

Team

Maryland (1-0)

Schedule

at Duke, Saturday, 1

Jeff Zrebiec's skinny

How's this for a debut? Delaware transfer Xander Ritz gets seven points against Georgetown and picks up ACC, Inside Lacrosse Player of Week honors.

Team

Mount St. Mary's (0-1)

schedule

at Delaware, next Wednesday, 4

Jeff Zrebiec's skinnt

The Mount gets the week off after opening with an 11-8 loss to Bucknell. In that game, a three-goal halftime deficit proved too much to overcome.

Team

Navy (1-1)

schedule

at North Carolina, Friday, 7

Jeff Zrebiec's skinny

It might be a long night in Chapel Hill. Last year, Navy beat the Heels in 4 OTs; In 2002, North Carolina prevailed in 6 OTs.

Team

Towson (0-1)

schedule

vs. Providence, Saturday, 1

Jeff Zrebiec's skinny

The Tigers got just one goal from their starting attack last week. That group's development is vital with Maryland, Virginia and Rutgers on deck.

Team

UMBC (0-1)

schedule

vs. Ohio State, Sunday, noon

Jeff Zrebiec's skinny

The Retrievers' late rally against Duke was spurred by Pat Muston's faceoff work (17 of 22). Their next test will be an emotional Buckeyes team.

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