Virginia Takes On Princeton In NCAA Semifinals
May 24, 2000
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia has won the last three meetings against Princeton to even theseries at seven wins apiece. The Cavaliers downed the Tigers 15-8 in earlyMarch in Charlottesville.
Although the first meeting occurred in 1948, it wasn’t until the 1990s thatthe two schools began to meet with regularity. The two teams had met onlythree times before beginning an annual series in 1992.
In addition to meeting during the regular season every year since 1992, thetwo teams have battled in the NCAA Tournament’s title game twice (1994,’96). Princeton won both NCAA match-ups in overtime to deny the Cavaliers anational championship (that they finally claimed last season). Overall,this is the third meeting in the NCAA Tournament.
Princeton has won both meetings played in College Park, Md.,-theaforementioned NCAA Tournament title games.
The Cavaliers have used both defense and offense in winning the last threegames. Last season the Cavaliers turned the tables on Princeton by adoptingthe Tigers’ ball-control offense to post a 6-4 win. The win marked thefirst time since 1973 the Cavaliers won a game with as few as six goals.This season they scored 15 goals, the most they’ve scored vs. the Tigers in29 years.
On the other hand, Princeton hasn’t scored more than eight goals againstUVa since 1997.
Cavaliers Hand Tigers Rare Losses
Since 1995 Princeton has lost just 12 games, including 10 regular seasoncontests. Of those 12 losses, five have come against Virginia. In fact theCavaliers have defeated Princeton almost twice as often since 1995 as thenext closest opponent-Syracuse (three times).
The Tigers lost just once during their NCAA championship seasons in 1996and 1998-both times to Virginia.
Virginia ended Princeton’s 29-game winning streak with a 9-7 win in 1998 inthe most recent game played in Charlottesville.
It’s interesting to note that that’s not the only 29-game streak to end inCharlottesville to a Cavalier athletic team. The UVa football team ended a29-game losing streak to Clemson in 1990. The football team also endedFlorida State’s Atlantic Coast Conference winning streak at 29 games in1995.
Not What You’d Expect
Dom Starsia’s Cavaliers have a reputation as an explosive offensive squadand have led the nation in scoring twice since 1997. Princeton, on theother hand, has favored taking a more methodical approach to offense, whilerelying on a strong defense to slow the opponent.
Given the differing philosophies between the two schools, one might assumethe Cavaliers would want to get into a fast-paced offensive game, while theTigers would rather slow the pace.
However, in this instance it’s not good to assume. Despite Virginia’s 15-8win earlier this season, the recent history of the series indicates thatthe Cavaliers fare better against Princeton when the score is low.Two years ago the Cavaliers won 9-7 in Charlottesville, while last seasonthey posted a 6-4 win in Princeton.
Perhaps it’s interesting to note that Princeton is the only opponent wherethe Cavaliers do well against when the score is low. Since 1993 Virginia isjust 5-11 when scoring fewer than 10 goals, with two of the five winscoming against the Tigers.
The chart below shows the average score in this series since 1993 when UVawins and loses.
|avg. UVa score||avg. Princeton score||avg. total goals|
History Suggests a Tight Contest
This is the 12th meeting between Virginia and Princeton since the two beganplaying each other on an annual basis in 1992. They have also faced eachother twice in the NCAA Tournament (’94, ’96).
One of the most obvious characteristics of the series is how close thegames have been. A game decided by more than three goals qualifies as ablow out.
Among the last 11 meetings feature three games decided by one goal (allthree were overtime contests), three decided by two goals and two decidedby three.
Cavaliers Gain First Win of Season Over Princeton
David Bruce scored three goals and Conor Gill two to spark a five-goalVirginia run that propelled the then third-ranked Cavaliers to a 15-8 winover then second-ranked Princeton in the first meeting of the seasonbetween the two teams on March 11 in Charlottesville.
The visiting Tigers opened an early 4-2 lead midway through the firstquarter before the Cavalier attack got going. Gill scored with 4:34 left inthe opening quarter to cut Princeton’s lead to 4-3. Bruce tied the score atfour 28 seconds later by knocking in a loose ball in front of the goal.
Gill put the Cavaliers in the lead for good early in the second quarterwith his second goal of the afternoon as he beat goalie Trevor Tierney witha shot in close.
Bruce scored twice in a span of 36 seconds to give the Cavaliers a 7-4 leaden route to a 7-5 lead at halftime.
The Cavaliers extended their lead to as many as seven goals (13-6) with asix-goal third quarter. Virginia’s faceoff duo of Jason Hard and DavidJenkins won eight of 10 faceoffs during the period to give UVa good scoringopportunities.
Bruce and Drew McKnight paced the Cavaliers with three goals apiece. Gill,Jay Jalbert and Jenkins added two goals each. Gill, the quarterback of theVirginia attack, contributed four assists, while McKnight added three.
Goalie Derek Kenney went the whole way for Virginia, registering 11 saves.Virginia’s defense played aggressively throughout the game and gave up onlyfour goals in the last 50 minutes of the game.
The game marked the first time since 1995 that Princeton allowed as many as15 goals in one game. It was also Princeton’s worst margin of defeat sincean 11-4 loss to UVa in 1995.
McKnight, Starsia Named ACC’s Best
Senior attackman Drew McKnight was named the ACC Player of the Year, whilehead coach Dom Starsia was named the conference’s Coach of the Year invoting by the league’s four head coaches.
The Virginia Beach, Va., native is among the national and ACC leaders inscoring (56 points, 4.00 per game), goals (31, 2.21 per game) and assists(25, 1.79 per game).
McKnight took just eight games to accumulate 20 goals and 20 assists whichis as fast as any Cavalier has reached these figures in the last 36 years.His selection marks the second year in a row a Cavalier has been selectedthe player of the year. Tucker Radebaugh, an assistant coach at UVa thisseason, won the award last season.
Starsia was named the conference’s top coach for the second year in a rowas he led the Cavaliers to the ACC title again this season. He has guidedthe Cavaliers to a school-record 13 consecutive victories and a 13-1overall record this spring.
Starsia also won the league’s coaching award in 1995 and 1997.Under Starsia’s tutelage, Virginia has produced 41 All-Americans, 28All-ACC selections, four ACC Rookies of the Year and three ACC Players ofthe Year. He has a 92-28 record in eight seasons at UVa and has led theCavaliers into the NCAA playoffs every year he has been in Charlottesville.
Virginia in the NCAAs
This is Virginia’s 24 appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Only Johns Hopkinshas been to the tournament (28 times) more than the Cavaliers. Marylandalso made its 24th tournament appearance this season.
The Cavaliers have a 26-21 all-time playoff record and are fourth intournament wins.
UVa Has Nation’s Longest Winning Streak
Following a heartbreaking 13-12 overtime loss to Syracuse in the seasonopener, the Cavaliers have reeled off 13 consecutive wins. The 13-gamewinning streak is the longest in the nation, as well as the longest winningstreak in school history.
If UVa is able to defeat Princeton, it would tie as the fifth-longestwinning streak in ACC history. Maryland holds the league record with a31-game winning streak.
A list of the longest winning streaks in ACC history is below.
|School, years||Consec. Wins|
Cavaliers are Road Warriors
This is Virginia’s ninth game away from Charlottesville this season. Overthe last two years the Cavaliers have established themselves as a very goodteam when playing on the road.
Going back to last season, Virginia has won 14 consecutive games at road orneutral sites (seven road games, seven neutral site games), tying an ACCrecord for most consecutive wins away from home. North Carolina also won 14straight games away from Chapel Hill from 1981-83.
UVa’s 14-game winning streak in games away from Charlottesville is by farthe longest such streak in school history. The previous record of nine winsaway from home was held by the 1994 squad.
The last time Virginia lost away from Charlottesville was a 10-9 overtimeloss to Duke on April 18, 1999.
NCAA Rematch Isn’t Unusual
The game against Princeton marks UVa’s second meeting of the season againstthe Tigers. You might think it is unusual to meet a team in the regularseason and then play them again in the NCAA Tournament.
However, in Virginia’s case it isn’t unusual at all. In fact, it’s happenedmore often than not.
The Cavaliers have played 47 tournament games since 1971 and 26 have beenrematches of regular season meetings.
Rematches in the NCAA Tournament haven’t necessarily been a good thing forthe Cavaliers. They are 9-17 all-time in NCAA Tournament games that havebeen rematches of regular season games.
Virginia won the season’s first game against Princeton, but will hope to beable to avoid its historical trend. The Cavaliers are 4-8 in the NCAATournament in games against teams they beat in the regular season.
Revenge must be a motivating factor because Virginia is much betterpercentage-wise after losing the regular season meeting. The Cavaliers are5-9 in rematches and avenged regular season losses to Johns Hopkins andSyracuse en route to the NCAA title last season.
Cavaliers Claim 14th ACC Title
The Cavaliers won the ACC Tournament this season to claim their secondconsecutive ACC championship and the 14th overall. This season’s titlemarks the first time since 1983-85 (when the champion was determinedthrough regular season play) that they have won back-to-back championships.
Virginia’s title this season makes the Cavaliers the first team since NorthCarolina in the early ’90s to win consecutive ACC championships. The TarHeels won the first six ACC Tournaments from 1989-94, but the champion hadalternated between the four ACC schools every year until this season.
Five Cavaliers Named All-ACC
Five Cavaliers were named to the 2000 All-ACC squad, the largest contingentof Wahoos since 1997, in voting by the league’s head coaches. Two Cavaliersare repeaters from last season-Ryan Curtis and Jay Jalbert-while ConorGill, Mark Koontz and Drew McKnight were selected for the first time.Gill and McKnight give UVa two All-ACC attackmen for the first time since1997, when Doug Knight and Michael Watson were selected.
Jalbert’s selection marks UVa’s first two-timer in the midfield since AndyKraus in 1988-89.
Known for their offensive prowess, it’s not unusual to see several Cavalierattackmen or midfielders selected. But this season the ACC coaches haveproperly rewarded the UVa defense for its outstanding play in 2000 with theselection of Curtis and Koontz. This marks the first time since 1991(George Glyphis and Mike Schattner) that two Cavalier defensemen were namedAll-ACC. Curtis joins Tommy Smith (1996-97) as the only two-time All-ACCdefensemen under Dom Starsia, while Koontz is UVa’s first sophomoredefenseman named to the all-league team since Scott Lind in 1984.Gill and Koontz are the only sophomores named to this season’s All-ACC team.
Gill Holds Slim Scoring Lead
Despite being held scoreless for the first time in his career by Duke lastweek, Conor Gill has been on a scoring tear lately, scoring 29 points (10g,19a) in the last six games. In the process he has wrestled the team scoringlead away from Drew McKnight, who had led the team for most of the season.His scoreless performance against Duke actually ended two offensive streaksfor Gill. It marked the first time in his career in which he failed toscore a goal or record an assist-a streak that reached 29 games. It alsoended a streak of 15 consecutive games with a goal, a streak that stretchedback to last season’s NCAA semifinal win over Johns Hopkins.
What makes his performance against Duke so unusual is that he was cominginto the game following two of the top offensive performances of his career.He recorded a career-high eight points (4g, 4a) against Ohio State in a13-7 win. Three days later he scored two goals and tied his career highwith five assists in a 20-7 win over Butler.
He has scored 24 goals and added 35 assists for 59 total points andeclipsed his numbers from last season in just 13 games (vs. 16 games lastseason).
With 111 career points (46g, 65a) as a sophomore, Gill has reached thecentury mark in scoring faster than any UVa player since Kevin Pehlke in1990-91. Pehlke recorded 125 points through his first two seasons.
Underrated UVa Defense Among Nation’s Best
Virginia is allowing just 7.93 goals per game this season and is rankedfifth in the nation in scoring defense. UVa’s current GAA is its lowestsince a 7.20 mark in 1986.
The Cavaliers have allowed more than eight goals in a game only three timesthis season and only twice has the opposition reached double figures. NorthCarolina’s 16 goals in the ACC semifinals last month represent the mostgoals UVa has allowed all season.
Prior to the Tar Heels’ 16-goal outburst, Virginia had strung togethereight consecutive games in single digits, the longest such streak since1986.
The defense has also proven adept at limiting the opposition’s shotopportunities throughout the season, allowing just 26.1 shots per game.There have been only five games all season when the opposition has takenmore than 30 shots.
The most shots taken by a UVa opponent this season is the 44 taken by Dukein last weekend’s quarterfinal game.
That was the first time since the North Carolina game mentioned above thatthe opposition took more than 24 shots.
If the Cavaliers’ current average of shots allowed per game holds up itwould be their lowest mark since at least 1969. In the last 31 years, thefewest shots Virginia has allowed was an average of 26.9 shots per game in1980.
UVa’s man-down defense has also been outstanding. The Cavaliers haverelinquished just 14 goals in 62 extra-man opportunities (.226) and rank12th nationally in man-down defense. The Cavaliers’ man-down defense hasn’tbeen this good since 1991 when UVa allowed opponents to convert on just21.2 percent of its advantages.
In the last nine games Virginia’s opponents have scored on just 15.6percent of their extra-man situations (five of 32). In just the last fivegames the Cavaliers have given up just one goal in 13 EMO chances by theopposition.
McKnight Becomes 20-20 Man
Senior attack Drew McKnight is the 27th Cavalier since 1964 to score 20goals and record 20 assists in a season. As one of the nation’s leadingattackmen, his offensive ability has never been questioned.
But considering some of the offensive standouts-Tom Duquette, Kris Snider,Roddy Marino, Kevin Pehlke, Tim Whiteley, Doug Knight, Michael Watson,Tucker Radebaugh just to name a few-that have worn the orange and bluethroughout the years, perhaps it is interesting to note that McKnight gotto “20 & 20” as fast as anyone. It took him just eight games to reach 20goals and 20 assists, the same amount of time it took Tom Duquette in 1970,Mike Caravana in 1982, and Doug Knight and Michael Watson in 1997. Since1964, no Cavalier has gotten to “20 & 20” as fast as this group.
They began alternating face-offs last season and the change in strategyproved to be beneficial to both players.
Jenkins finished second in the nation in winning percentage last season(.643), while Hard was sixth (.628).
This season it’s much the same. Both rank among the nation’s top-10 faceoffmen. In the most recent national statistics published before the NCAATournament, Hard ranked fourth (currently 62.8%), while Jenkins ranked 10th(currently 63.0%), making UVa the only team with two players in the top 10.Overall Virginia is third in the country in face-off winning percentage at62.0 percent.
Virginia has won the face-off battle in all but one game this season (theregular season game vs. Duke).
Scoring Comes From Unlikely Sources
Head coach Dom Starsia and his coaching staff were no doubt looking tomidfielders Jay Jalbert and Hanley Holcomb to be among the Cavaliers’ bigguns in the offensive zone this season. Jalbert has held true to form,scoring 27 goals to rank second on the team. Holcomb, however, is having atough season with just 10 goals, although he scored twice against Duke lastweek.
Much to Starsia’s delight, there have been some pleasant surprises who havepicked up on the offensive end to take over some of the scoring load.Although a proven offensive player, Drew McKnight has almost surelysurpassed what was expected of him. The ACC Player of the Year has foundthe back of the net a team-leading 31 times, surpassing his previous careerbest of 25 goals.
Fifth-year midfielder/attackman David Bruce has been a reserve throughouthis career, never scoring more than 11 goals. He moved to the midfield forhis final season and the move has paid off. Using the knowledge gained overthe previous four years, Bruce has tallied 20 goals. It took him just fivegames to surpass his previous career high for goals. Bruce has madeopponents pay in 2000 with good positioning around the crease that hasenabled him to score almost all of his goals from in close.
Ian Shure missed all of last season due to a knee injury and saw limitedaction as a freshman two years ago. But playing at full strength, Shure hascontributed 23 goals.
A.J. Shannon, a highly regarded freshman from Canada, leads Atlantic CoastConference rookies with 15 goals while running with the first midfield. Hegoals have come in pairs-two against Syracuse, Rutgers, Stony Brook, NorthCarolina (twice), Duke and Maryland.
Faceoff specialist Jason Hard has been more involved on offense this seasonthan in the past and has scored 17 goals. Like Bruce, it took him only fivegames to exceed his previous career high (five in 1997).
McKnight Joins Exclusive “90-90” Club
Drew McKnight has been a remarkably consistent scorer throughout hiscareer. Prior to this season he had scored between 19 and 25 goals andassisted on between 20 and 24 more goals.
This season, however, McKnight’s scoring has exploded. He is among thenational and ACC leaders in scoring, averaging 4.00 points per game (56points). He is also among the leaders in goals (2.21 gpg) and assists (1.79apg).
McKnight’s offensive statistics this season all represent careerhighs-goals (31), assists (25), points (56).For his career he has scored 97 goals and recorded 91 assists and is onlythe fourth player in school history with at least 90 goals and 90 assists.The members of the “90-90” club are listed (chronologically) below.McKnight’s place on UVa’s goals, assists and points lists is listedelsewhere in this notes packet.
Bruce Records Three Hat Tricks vs. Final 4 Teams
When David Bruce decided to return for his fifth year this season he wasn’tsure what his role would be for head coach Dom Starsia. He missed all ofthe 1998 campaign due to a knee injury and played on the second attack unitlast season. With Drew McKnight, Conor Gill and Ian Shure penciled into thestarting attack this season, Bruce volunteered to move to the midfielddespite never having played there in college before, to get more time.
Whatever Bruce lacked for playing in the midfield, he makes up for withgood overall knowledge of the game. And he’s put his four years of collegeexperience to good use so far this season.
Finding himself in the right place at the right time, Bruce has capitalizedon virtually all of his scoring chances this season.
In the season opening loss to Syracuse, Bruce scored three times, with allthree scores coming from point-blank range.
Bruce’s scoring parade continued in the win over Princeton as he scoredthree times for the second game in a row. All three goals came in just overa nine-minute span in the middle of the first half and helped erase anearly deficit.
He scored three goals against Johns Hopkins for his third hat trick of theseason.
He is fifth on the team with 20 goals. It took him just five games toexceed his previous career high of 11 goals in 1997.
Hard, Jenkins Are Unsung Heroes
Faceoff specialists Jason Hard and David Jenkins don’t get a lot of theattention that some of their teammates get, but their play was perhaps theprimary reason Virginia won the ACC Tournament last month. They will alsobe important to the Cavaliers’ bid to repeat as national champions thisseason.
In the wins over North Carolina and Maryland in the ACC Tournament, the duocombined to win 41 of 59 faceoffs. They also added five goals, includingtwo by both in the narrow win over North Carolina in the semifinals.
Their faceoff prowess was exceptional down the stretch in the fourthquarter against North Carolina. Trailing 15-11 early in the fourth, theyproceeded to win five of the next six faceoffs to get the possessions theyneeded to whittle away at the lead. The Cavaliers scored the final threegoals of regulation, including two shortly after faceoffs, to forceovertime.
Their performance in the finals against Maryland was just as important asit was against North Carolina two days before. They won 17 of 22 faceoffsvs. the Terps, including all 11 in the second half.
Virginia jumped to an 8-2 lead early in the third quarter before Marylandroared back with five unanswered goals to cut the lead to one.The importance of winning faceoffs paid off for the Cavaliers as theyscored the game’s final three goals to pull out the win.
Hard scored three goals in the tournament and won two-thirds of hisfaceoffs (20 of 30), while Jenkins snatched 26 ground balls (13 each game)and won 72.4 percent (21 of 29) of his draws.
Hard has scored 17 goals (by far a career high), while winning 62.8percent of his faceoffs this season. His winning percentage ties his careerbest at the moment.
Hard’s 17 goals are the most by UVa’s primary faceoff man since Gabby Roescored 19 times in 1991.
Jenkins has won 63.0 percent of his draws, while chipping in with fivegoals. As one of the team’s leading defensive midfielders, he has beeninstrumental in Virginia’s outstanding play in preventing the oppositionfrom taking shots and scoring.
2000 Squad Ties Season Victory Mark
The Cavaliers dropped their season opener to Syracuse back in March, butthey quickly rebounded and have won their last 13 games and have a 13-1record.
Their 12 regular season wins (no NCAA playoff wins included) are the mostin school history, while their 13 overall wins are tied for the most totalwins in a season. Virginia also won 13 games in 1994 and 1999.
Virginia is the first team in ACC history to win at least 13 games inback-to-back seasons.
Another win and UVa would become just the fifth team in ACC history to win14 games in a season.
A list of the ACC’s winningest teams is below.
|1.||North Carolina, 1991||16-0|
|2.||North Carolina, 1982||14-0|
|North Carolina, 1993||14-2|
|North Carolina, 1989||13-5|
Jalbert is Offensive and Defensive Force
Jay Jalbert was named the nation’s top midfielder last season after scoring31 goals and adding 10 assists as UVa won the national championship.This season he’s having another outstanding season and has been one ofVirginia’s top performers as the Cavaliers have reeled off 13 consecutivevictories and a berth in the national semifinals.
He was named to the All-ACC team for the second year in a row, becoming thefirst Cavalier midfielder to do so since Andy Kraus in 1988-89.At 6-1, 200 pounds, he is frequently among the bigger players on the fieldand uses his superior size and strength to great advantage. It’s notunusual for him to clear the ball by himself and start the UVa offense onthe attack.
This spring he has found the back of the net 27 times and assisted on 13more goals, while consistently being a force on the defensive end of thefield as well.
He needs just three more goals to join Doug Knight (’95-’97) and MichaelWatson (’94-’97) as the only players in school history to score 30+ goalsin three consecutive seasons.
Jalbert is fifth in school history with 111 goals (tied for 17th in ACChistory) and is 12th in the Virginia record books with 152 career points.
Kenney Comes Up Big vs. Duke
Sophomore goalie Derek Kenney and the rest of the Virginia defense don’tget the credit they deserve for the team’s success this season.Kenney is second in the country in goals-against average in the most recentnational statistics published prior to the NCAA Tournament, allowing just7.12 goals per game.
He has also made 103 saves this spring, including a season-high 12 in lastweek’s quarterfinal win over Duke.
Perhaps his most important saves came in the third quarter with Virginiaholding a slim 6-4 lead to start the second half. Duke won the second halffaceoff and scored just over a minute into the period to pull to within one.The Blue Devils controlled the ball for most of the quarter, but were notable to dent Kenney until late in the fourth quarter.
Kenney made three point blank one-on-one saves in the third period tothwart Duke’s attempt at tying the score. Overall he turned back five shotsin the quarter.
When it seems to matter most, Kenney is at his best. Despite an overtimeloss he notched 10 saves in the opener against Syracuse and had 11 in a winover Princeton the next week.
This Group Likes Byrd Stadium
Most of the current group of Cavaliers have not felt the frustration anddisappointment so many Virginia teams of the past have felt at Maryland’sByrd Stadium. Virginia ended many years of disappointment at Byrd lastseason by downing Johns Hopkins and Syracuse en route to the program’sfirst national championship in 27 years.
This season Byrd has sort of been a home away from home for the Wahoos.They downed Maryland 11-6 in late March in a regular season meeting.They then won a squeaker over North Carolina in the semifinals of the ACCTournament and turned back Maryland in the finals two days later to runtheir Byrd Stadium winning streak to five games.
A Look Ahead if Virginia Wins
If Virginia is fortunate enough to defeat Princeton in the nationalsemifinals, the Cavaliers would be making their second consecutive trip tothe finals and the seventh overall.
Virginia won the NCAA Tournament in 1972 and last season.A berth in the finals would also guarantee a rematch of a game playedduring the regular season.
The Cavaliers fell to Syracuse 13-12 in overtime in the season opener andwould be a rematch of last season’s title game that saw Virginia win thenational championship with a 12-10 win over the Orangemen. Overall theteams have built quite a rivalry in the national playoffs. The teams havemet in the NCAA Tournament five times (all since 1986), with Virginiawinning three.
Virginia defeated Johns Hopkins 16-8 three weeks after losing the opener toSyracuse. A meeting with the Blue Jays would be a rematch of last season’ssemifinal contest that saw Virginia win 16-11. The teams have met 11 timesin the postseason, including two games in the finals. Virginia claimed itsfirst NCAA crown with a 13-12 win in 1972, but the Blue Jays gained ameasure of revenge with a 9-8 double overtime win in the 1980 finals.