Poskay delivers fine 5-goal finish


PHILADELPHIA -- There was no shortage of disbelievers about Matt Poskay's ability to play at the highest level of college lacrosse when he graduated from A.L. Johnson High School in Clark, N.J.

Poskay had set a national high school record with 362 goals and amassed a state-high 468 career points, but the doubters wondered about the caliber of his competition and whether he would be able to mesh in while facing the likes of Johns Hopkins, Syracuse and Maryland.

"There were plenty of doubters and skeptics, but I just tried to ignore that," the Virginia midfielder said yesterday after finishing his college career with a flourish. "I understood the kind of game I played, and I put a lot of work into it."

The senior supplied a career-high five goals in the 15-7 national championship mastery of Massachusetts and finished his four-year stay with 88, pushing him into second place on the list of goal scorers among Cavaliers midfielders. Only Pete Eldredge (92 from 1969 through 1972) eclipsed his total.

"He's a real strong kid and a tremendous finisher," Massachusetts coach Greg Cannella said of Poskay. "From 8, 10 yards away from the cage, he's been very successful at putting it away."

Voted the final four's Most Outstanding Player, Matt Ward also scored five times, and Poskay was one of four other Cavaliers chosen for the all-tournament team.

Poskay scored Virginia's first two goals, added two in the third quarter when the team took command of the game and finished his flurry with the 12th to give the Cavaliers a six-goal advantage early in the fourth period. He scored at least once in his last 22 college games, tying another school record.

"This is definitely the hardest-working team I've been on, from the first guy on the field to the last guy on the bench," Poskay said. "After we won the ACC tournament, I said, `I guess we have to go undefeated now.' "

Virginia did exactly that over 17 games, the highest total ever for an unbeaten champion.

Poskay's grand finale was witnessed by about 40 friends and family, more than compensating for last year's demoralizing 9-8 overtime loss to Johns Hopkins in the national semifinals.

In that game, Poskay's goal with 4:45 remaining in regulation had given Virginia its first lead before lightning and thunder delayed the contest for nearly an hour.

"We learned a lot last year," Poskay said. "We were almost there and we felt if we worked a little bit harder, we would get there. Nothing needed to be said. It was just going to take a little extra to cap it off. We knew we could get better."

At halftime yesterday, when the pesky Minutemen were still within a goal of the heavy favorites, the Cavaliers didn't really require a huge pep talk.

"It was just kind of like, `Let's go and get after it,' " Poskay said. "We knew what had to be done."


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