Rubeor's temper tests opposition

May 24, 2008|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

Ben Rubeor's heroics were rooted in anger.

By now, lacrosse fans everywhere have watched replays of Rubeor, a senior attackman for Virginia, curling around the right post and depositing a shot past Maryland goalkeeper Jason Carter with 31 seconds left in overtime a week ago to send the Cavaliers to a 19th semifinal appearance in the NCAA tournament.

What people might not know is that Rubeor's third game-winning goal of the season was fueled by his anger over being stripped of the ball by Terps midfielder Bryn Holmes just minutes before.

"I tend to play with a little bit of a temper," Rubeor, a Towson native and Loyola High graduate, said with a chuckle. "Coach tries to reel it in sometimes, and other times, he lets it go. He told me that he was worried that as I was running up the field, I was going to foul Bryn. But I definitely play with a temper, and when I don't play or perform as well as I want to, that definitely comes out."

Thankfully for the Cavaliers, there have been few occasions when Rubeor hasn't played well. He is one of the reasons No. 2 seed Virginia (14-3) will meet No. 3 seed Syracuse (14-2) in a semifinal at noon today at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Despite missing the season's first three contests with a right-knee injury, Rubeor leads the team in goals (38) and is third in points (51). He was named a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy, the top individual award in college lacrosse, for the second straight year despite having fewer goals and points than three of the other four candidates.

Rubeor will certainly be the center of attention for the Orange defense.

"I think you've got to be aware of where he is all of the time," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "He's very explosive."

At 5 feet 11, 177 pounds, Rubeor is the first to acknowledge that he's not the most physically imposing player. He won't bull his way to the net as Johns Hopkins' Paul Rabil can or race past defenders as Syracuse's Mike Leveille has done.

Rubeor makes up for those gaps by honing his game to be as versatile an athlete as he can be.

"I take pride in the fact that I ride as hard as I dodge; I go after loose balls as hard as I shoot," he said.

Rubeor's value was apparent during his three-game absence to open the season. Although the Cavaliers went 3-0, coach Dom Starsia said the team missed the balance the left-handed Rubeor brings to an attack that features junior Danny Glading quarterbacking the offense from behind the cage and junior Garrett Billings roaming in front.

"He sort of opens up the field for us a little bit by giving us a presence over there," Starsia said, "and his ability to feed and dodge just makes more of the field a viable option for us on offense. I think we're much, much tougher to defend with him out there."

While some of the hype surrounding this final-four weekend has centered on the possibility of three national titles in four years for the Johns Hopkins seniors, the Virginia seniors and juniors have a shot at two championships in three years.

"This is an opportunity that last year - losing to Delaware [in the first round] - really made me appreciate," Rubeor said. "The final four is not assumed, no matter how much I wanted to believe it my first two years. You have to earn your way in, and it's a privilege to be here."

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