A moment of silence, a game of dominance for U.Va. vs. Mount

May 16, 2010|By Don Markus | The Baltimore Sun

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Barry Jacobs has been a University of Virginia lacrosse fan for 50 years, ever since he unsuccessfully tried out for the team as a freshman. A season-ticket holder for many years after moving to Northern Virginia, Jacobs came to Klockner Stadium on Saturday night with mixed emotions.

Jacobs, a retired State Department officer, was going to root for the top-ranked and top-seeded Cavaliers against Mount St. Mary's in their opening game of the NCAA lacrosse tournament, but his heart was still heavy from what transpired here nearly two weeks ago -- the murder of women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love, allegedly at the hands of men's lacrosse player George Huguely.

As Jacobs walked from the parking lot to the stadium about an hour before gametime, Jacobs couldn't quite separate Love's murder from the national championship pursuits of the men's and women's lacrosse teams. The fourth-seeded women's team was scheduled to play its first game since Love's death Sunday against Towson at noon.

The men's team wore black-and-white patches with Love's initials and the No. 1, as the women's team is expected to do. A moment of silence in Love's honor was observed prior to the start of the game Saturday.

"It's taken a lot of pleasure out of it," Jacobs said. "We want 'em to win, but it's not much fun this year."

Jacobs said that he has been following the media reports since Huguely allegedly beat Love, his former girlfriend, to death in her off-campus apartment May 3. Like many fans, Jacobs wondered how the men's team would react to playing while their former teammate sat in the Charllotesville Albemarle Regional Jail and how the women would play a week after Love had been buried in Baltimore.

The latest piece of news to come out was the university's response to a Washington Post report that said Huguely attacked a former teammate last season while he was sleeping after Huguely suspected the player of kissing Love at a party. Both Huguely and the former player went to Virginia coach Dom Starsia to report their scuffle.

Neither player was suspended and the university came out Friday in support of Starsia's decision.

"You root, of course you root, but they're kids, 21-year-old kids. I can't imagine that this won't affect them, both the men's and the women's teams," Jacobs said.

It took a couple of minutes -- and a couple of point-blank shots by the Mountaineers stopped by Virgiinia goaltender Adam Ghitelman -- for the Cavaliers to put aside the roiling emotions of the past two weeks and start focusing again on lacrosse. Virginia (15-1) scored the game's first eight goals en route to an 18-4 victory over Mount St. Mary's (12-5).

Senior midfielder Brian Carroll (Gilman) and junior midfielder Shamel Bratton led the Cavaliers with three goals each, while sophomore attack Steele Stanwick (Loyola) had an open-net goal in the first quarter and tied a career high with five assists.

"I thought they carried the play to us early on, it may have just been a shock to our system to have the game start finally," Starsia said. "Adam kept them off the board early in the game and it might have changed the beginning of the game. I thought we settled in. I thought you witnessed a team that was very glad to be back on the field again. [We] probably played almost as well as we played all year."

Starsia, whose father passed away shortly after Love's murder, credited his assistants and team leaders, saying it was "a joy to be playing lacrosse again."

Bratton, who scored the first of his team's five first-quarter goals, said "It just felt really good to get out there and play and run around, play against guys in a different color [jersey]."

Asked what the past two weeks have been like for the Cavaliers, Stanwick said, "It really helps having your teammates around. We were excited to get out there tonight."

The victory put the Cavaliers into the quarterfinals at Stony Brook, which earlier in the day beat Denver on the road. The game will be played next weekend on Long Island, the same weekend that Virginia's seniors graduate. Love will receive her degree posthumously, the school announced a few days after the senior from Cockeysville was killed.

Huguely, who was also a senior, has withdrawn from school, defense attorney Francis Lawrence said the day his client appeared in Charlottesville District Court via closed circuit television from jail. A second-team midfielder, all mention of Huguely has been removed from the team's website and from Saturday's lineup card. The only reminder of Huguely that remains is his biography on page 48 of the team's press guide.

Athletic department spokesman Rich Murray said before Virginia's post-game press conference that reporters should not ask questions to the players or coaches regarding the murder, given the fact that the investigation is ongoing. Mount St. Mary's coach Tom Gravante opened his team's news conference by saying that his team "was particularly sad for the incident down here."

Gravante then made an interesting remark.

"I was hopeful that the U.Va. team -- they're No. 1 for a reason -- would rebound for their coach. He's a very classy guy and play the game they did," Gravante said.

Clifford Arnold, whose wife is a university music professor, was going to his first lacrosse game Saturday night. It had nothing to do with what happened two weeks ago, just that Arnold wanted to see the No. 1 ranked team in the country play. "The story of the murder certainly increases the visible of the sport, but I think I'd be here anyway," Arnold said.

Said Kate Arnold, who has taught at Virginia for the past four years, "Everybody's been sobered by it. You take a picture of a beautiful girl and a handsome young guy. I looked in that guy's eyes and I tried to figure out what kind of guy could do that. The more that came out, the more you could see that he was what I used to call a bad apple."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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