It's not yet a 2-way street for Dixon

UVa.'s Spalding product works to round off game

College Lacrosse

April 01, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Even with more than a year of college lacrosse experience, Virginia sophomore midfielder Kyle Dixon is still learning on the fly.

Early this season, Dixon twice ran off the field in transition, waving on a defensive midfielder rather than getting back on defense himself.

Both plays resulted in opposition goals and drew the ire of Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia, who is trying to mold the former Archbishop Spalding star into a true two-way midfielder.

"I told him, `Just stay out there and play,' " said Starsia, whose team travels to College Park to face No. 1 Maryland on Saturday. "Sometimes, you don't feel those things until you are convinced you can do them, and I think Kyle is starting to figure things out for himself.

"I remember [former Cavs midfielder and last year's Tewaaraton Trophy winner] Chris Rotelli was like that, too. I used to hammer Rotelli, telling him that he needs to be a complete player. But Kyle is right on schedule. He'll be one of the most dominant middies to play at the University of Virginia."

Such a proclamation won't come as a surprise to anyone who watched the 6-foot-4, 215-pound player run roughshod over the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference.

As a freshman member of Virginia's first midfield last year, Dixon scored nine goals and had eight assists.

However, with the reigning national champions having lost most of their top midfielders, he was being counted on for much more this season. It didn't happen early. Virginia suffered four straight losses, with Dixon accounting for only two goals and four assists in those games.

"My role has changed a lot," said Dixon, who worked last season almost entirely against a short stick, but now, always sees a long pole.

"Last year was pretty easy. I just moved the ball, didn't have to put up big numbers. But now I have more of a scoring role, and I'm also playing a lot more defense."

Dixon has progressed each week. Third on the team in scoring with eight goals and five assists, his two goals and an assist kept the 10th-ranked Cavaliers (3-4) in the game early two weeks ago against Towson, before they won it in overtime.

In Virginia's 9-8 upset of top-ranked Johns Hopkins last weekend, Dixon opened the game with two goals, but starred less conventionally later in the game.

With the game tied at 8 and senior goalie Tillman Johnson away from his cage to direct a clearing attempt, Hopkins long-stick midfielder Corey Harned picked up a loose ball and fired it toward the goal, only to see Dixon make a chest save.

"It was just instinct," said Dixon, "but Tillman said I had pretty good technique."

Then there were two

With Johns Hopkins and Yale losing last week, the list of undefeated teams in Division I was reduced to two: Maryland and Brown.

Yes, the same Brown team that was 4-10 last year and a unanimous preseason pick to finish in the basement of the Ivy League, is 6-0 and ranked 10th in the Inside Lacrosse media poll.

"We knew we deserved [last-place ranking] after last season," said the Bears' fourth-year coach, Scott Nelson, whose team started seven sophomores at times last season. "It was a miserable year, but we knew we'd be better because of it."

The Bears won't open their league schedule until April 10, but they have scored impressive nonconference wins en route to their best start in 13 years.

A week after handling then-No. 16 Massachusetts, 10-5, the Bears blasted 10th-ranked Loyola, 14-3, on Saturday.

Last year, Brown, which will play host to No. 3 Syracuse on Saturday, lost to the Greyhounds and Minutemen by a combined 34-14.

"We're playing much better defense and we've matured," said Nelson, whose team has an All-American candidate in goal in senior Mike Levin and one of the country's most underrated players in attackman Chazz Woodson (13 goals, seven assists).

Ground balls

Maryland assistant coach Dave Slafkosky made good on a promise on Monday, shaving his head to a mohawk, which he told the Terps he would do if they beat North Carolina. ... Despite Towson goalie Mark DeGroat's performance Saturday in the Tigers' upset of Rutgers, coach Tony Seaman said Reed Sothoron will be back as the starter Saturday against Villanova. Sothoron was benched because he was late for practice. ... As of Monday, 1,500 tickets remained for the 100th Johns Hopkins-Maryland game April 17 at Homewood Field.

National leaders

Through Tuesday's games

Total points

Player, School GP G A Pts.

Chris Cara, Bucknell 8 19 25 44

Ian Dingman, Navy 7 20 13 33

Michael Powell, Syracuse 6 15 16 31

Joe Walters, Maryland 7 21 9 30

Matt Alrich, Delaware 10 21 8 29

Jim Wagner, Army 7 21 8 29

Jed Prossner, N.Carolina 7 22 7 29

Mark Williamson, Hobart 7 22 7 29

Keegan Wilkinson, St. Joe's 10 9 18 27

Jeff Bryan, Army 7 6 20 26

Kyle Tiejen, Butler 6 21 5 26

Goals-against average

Player, School GP GA Avg.

Brendan Callahan, Stony Brook 7 29 5.30

Mike Levin, Brown 5 28 5.63

Tony Russo, Ohio State 7 37 5.69

Joseph Caruso, Villanova 8 46 5.77

Tim McGinnis, Maryland 7 39 6.30

Greg Havalchak, Rutgers 6 37 6.47

Sam Ashley, Butler 7 46 6.56

Scott Smith, Johns Hopkins 6 30 6.67

Aaron Fenton, Duke 6 31 6.86

Chris Collins, Delaware 9 60 6.99

Faceoffs

(Must win 50 percent and take 40 percent of team's faceoffs)

Player, School GP Wins Pct.

Andy Corno, Georgetown 6 88 .710

Chris Pieczonka, Navy 7 76 .673

Peter Vlahakis, Fairfield 7 101 .669

Chris Colliniates, Villanova 8 52 .650

Pat Muston, UMBC 5 64 .646

Ben DeFelice, Towson 5 51 .646

Geoff Snider, Denver 6 33 .635

Geoff Keough, Syracuse 5 42 .637

Scott Davidson, Denver 6 47 .627

Alex Smith, Delaware 9 99 .619

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