Cavaliers Open Against No. 20 Towson
Feb. 23, 2001
#3 Virginia Cavaliers vs.#20 Towson Tigers
Feb. 24, 2001
U-Hall Turf Field
The Series vs. the Tigers
The two teams, who haven’t played each other in 10 years, have split the six meetings in the series that dates back to the 1972 season.
The series was played on an annual basis from 1972-77, but there has only been one meeting since then.
The Tigers have won the last two meetings (1977, `91) by one goal each time, including a 14-13 upset win in the first round of the 1991 NCAA playoffs in Charlottesville the last time the two met.
Virginia won the first two times the two teams played. UVa gained a 15-9 win in the first meeting in 1972, a margin of victory that still stands as the largest in series history. The Cavaliers won the following season 13-9.
Curiously the teams have met seven times before, but the 1976 game was ruled a “no contest.” The 1975 game, won by Towson 15-12, was later forfeited to Virginia as Towson was ruled to have used an ineligible player.
Virginia Third in both Preseason Polls
The Cavaliers are ranked third in both preseason polls–Face-off Yearbook coaches poll and the Brine/360 Lacrosse.com media poll.
The top five in both polls are the same: 1-Syracuse, 2-Princeton, 3-Virginia, 4-Johns Hopkins and 5-Georgetown.
Last season Virginia opened the season #1 in both the coaches and media polls.
Gill and Koontz Tabbed Preseason First-Team All-Americans
First-team selections Conor Gill (A) and Mark Koontz (D) headline six Cavaliers named to the Face-off Yearbook preseason All-America squad. Joining them are third-team selections A.J. Shannon (A) and Hanley Holcomb (M), and honorable mention choices Billy Glading (M) and David Jenkins (FO).
Gill, a first-team All-America last season, is one of the most gifted attackmen in the country. He led the ACC (and placed 11th nationally) in scoring last season with 66 points (26g, 40a), an average of 4.40 ppg. He also led the ACC and finished eighth in the nation in assists with an average of 2.67 apg. In his career, the Lutherville, Md., native has scored 118 points and reached the century mark faster than any UVa player since Kevin Pehlke in the early 1990s.
Koontz was a second-team All-American in 2000, joining Gill and Syracuse’s Josh Coffman (2nd) as the only sophomores named first- or second-team All-Americans. A budding star, he and Gill were the only sophs named All-ACC last spring. A steadying influence on defense, Koontz has outstanding stick skills and led ACC long sticks with 72 ground balls a year ago. He tied his career high with eight ground balls in front of a record crowd at Ohio State in his hometown of Columbus.
Shannon, a sophomore from Whitby, Ontario, Canada, was UVa’s top freshman last spring, alternating between attack and the midfield. He scored 16 goals to lead all ACC freshmen, while his eight assists and 24 points led the league’s true freshmen. He is one of the most powerful players on the team and his continued development will go a long way toward the team’s offensive success.
Holcomb looks to bounce back from a frustrating season when he scored 10 goals and added two assists. The senior lefty from Ridgewood, N.J., was hampered for much of the season by a bad hamstring, but he had an outstanding fall season and looks to regain the form he displayed in 1999 when the Cavaliers claimed the national title. His experience will help solidify the first midfield unit.
Glading saw limited action in seven games as a rookie last spring, but he got stronger during the offseason and turned in an excellent fall season on the first midfield with Holcomb. He is a versatile offensive player, who uses his quickness effectively.Jenkins, a senior tri-captain with Gill and Koontz, is one of the top faceoff men in the country. He finished ninth in the nation last season, winning 62.1 percent of his draws. A very unheralded player, he led the team with 92 ground balls last spring. Primarily a defensive midfielder, he can score if needed as shown by his five goals and three assists (all career highs) in `00.
Three Named to CollegeLacrosseUSA.com Squad
Three Cavaliers have been named to the preseason All-America squad named by CollegeLacrosseUSA.com.Junior attackman Conor Gill and junior defenseman Mark Koontz were named to the first-team, while senior midfielder Hanley Holcomb was a second-team selection.
Colbeck Shares Award at Nation’s Top Assistant
UVa assistant coach Chris Colbeck and Syracuse assistant Kevin Donahue shared the Jay Gallagher Award as the nation’s outstanding assistant lacrosse coach awarded at the annual coaches’ convention last month.
Colbeck is entering his fifth year on head coach Dom Starsia’s staff. He serves as the offensive coordinator and is nationally recognized as one of the brightest, most innovative offensive coaches in the game today. Under his guidance, Virginia has led the NCAA in scoring in both 1997 and 1999 and is annually one of the most explosive offenses in the country. He has coached four first-team All-America attackmen, two ACC Players of the Year and one ACC Rookie of the Year.
Virginia in Season Openers
The Cavaliers open their 68th season of play today with a match-up against the Towson Tigers. Virginia is 36-30-1 (.545) all-time in season openers. And when the season opener is at home, the Cavaliers have compiled a 19-15-1 (.557) record throughout the years.
Under head coach Dom Starsia, the Cavaliers are 4-4 in season openers. Starsia won his first four season openers at UVa, but his Cavaliers have lost their last four (all to Syracuse).
This is the first time since 1995 (Navy) that Virginia has not opened against Syracuse. The Cavaliers won the 1996 opener vs. the Orangemen, but dropped all four from 1997-2000.
Three Named Co-captains
Midfielder David Jenkins, attackman Conor Gill and defenseman Mark Koontz were elected captains for this season in a vote of their teammates.
Jenkins, a senior from Dedham, Mass., has been among the nation’s top faceoff men the last two years and a stalwart defensive midfielder. He was ninth in the country in faceoffs last season, winning 62.1 percent of his draws. Jenkins also added a career-high five goals and three assists as UVa advanced to the national semifinals for the second year in a row.
Gill, a junior from Lutherville, Md., is considered by many as the top player in the nation. He led the ACC in scoring (4.40 ppg) and assists (2.67) last season. Gill was the only non-senior named a first-team All-America last spring after scoring 26 goals and assisting on 40 others.
Koontz was named a second-team All-American last season, his first as a starter. The junior, a native of Upper Arlington, Ohio, led the team’s long sticks with 72 ground balls in 2000 and joined Gill as the only sophomores on the All-ACC squad.
Cavaliers at U-Hall Turf Field
Today’s game is the first time since 1999 that Virginia has played at the U-Hall Turf Field. Last season the Cavaliers played all six home games at Kl?ckner Stadium, but they have typically played several early-season contests on the turf field.
The Cavaliers gained a thrilling 17-15 win over Syracuse to open the 1996 season in the first game on the home turf field. They downed Princeton 12-9 the following week to set the tone for their play on the artificial surface.
Overall Virginia is 10-1 in games played at the U-Hall Turf Field. The only loss was a tough 18-17 overtime loss to #2 Syracuse to open the 1998 season.
Early Start to the Season
Today’s game, just the seventh in school history to be played in February, represents the earliest the Cavaliers have ever played. For many years the season did not start until mid March, but in the last 15 years or so the season has typically started the first week of March. Virginia first played in February (28th) in 1990–a 14-5 home win over Washington & Lee.
Virginia is 4-2 in February and has lost the last two. Both losses came vs. Syracuse in 1997 and 1998.
Freshman Takes Over Between the Pipes
Tillman Johnson, one of the top goalies in the country in last year’s recruiting class, is expected to start today’s opener against Towson. His start marks the second time in the last three seasons that Dom Starsia has started a rookie in goal. Derek Kenney, the starter in goal the last two seasons, became the first freshman to start in the cage for Virginia since 1979. Kenney moved to the midfield this season, but has missed most of preseason practice due to an injury. He could return to the goal should Johnson suffer an injury during the season, but is otherwise expected to play in the midfield upon his return.
Based on his play in several preseason scrimmages, the Cavaliers have little to worry about with a rookie in goal. In last Friday’s scrimmage against Georgetown Johnson recorded nine saves–all in the first half–and relinquished just two goals in three quarters of action. The next day in the final preseason scrimmage vs. Loyola, he snuffed 12 saves, while allowing just four goals in almost 50 minutes of play. In both scrimmages, Johnson displayed the quick reflexes needed to make point blank saves as he consistently stymied both teams.
Jenkins Assumes Primary Face-off Duty
For the last three years David Jenkins and Jason Hard shared UVa’s face-offs responsibilities and gave Dom Starsia the luxury of having two outstanding face-off specialists. In fact, both were ranked in the top 10 in the nation the last two seasons. But with Hard’s graduation, Jenkins will be taking most of the team’s draws this season.
The senior tri-captain was ninth nationallly in winning percentage last spring, claiming 62.1 percent of his opportunities (105 of 169). He is the seventh-leading returnee this season in terms of winning percentage.
For his career, Jenkins has won 62.2 percent of his face-offs, the second-highest total in school history. Steve Kraus holds the school record with a 68.0 winning percentage.
Jenkins is also nearing UVa’s top five in face-off wins in his career. Virginia’s winningest face-off men are listed below.
name, years taken W L Pct. 1. Jason Hard, 1997-00 949 539 410 .568 2. Brad Wood, 1984-87 707 423 284 .598 3. Tony Nugent, 1992-95 668 362 306 .542 4. Steve Kraus, 1978-81 478 325 153 .680 5. Greg Montgomery, 1971-74 537 309 228 .575 6. David Jenkins, 1998-00 437 272 165 .622
Gill Spearheads the Attack
Preseason All-American Conor Gill is expected to be the Cavaliers’ offensive catalyst again this season. He avoided the dreaded “sophomore slump” last spring by leading the ACC in scoring (66 pts., 4.40 ppg) and assists (40 ast., 2.67 apg). He also found the back of the net 26 times.
He has been slowed somewhat during the preseason due to a sore knee, but you’d never know it based on his performance in two scrimmages last weekend. Against Georgetown on Friday night, he scored three goals and added three assists while playing just three quarters. One of his passes was of the behind-the-back variety right to Billy Glading’s stick who promptly rocketed a shot past the goalie.
Operating with just over 12 hours rest, Gill and the rest of the Cavaliers came back the next afternoon to face Loyola in the final preseason scrimmage. As usual Gill fed for three different Cavaliers for goals, while adding a goal of his own.
One characteristic Gill will no doubt try to avoid is a slow start to the season. He scored five goals and had eight assists in the first four games of last season. As a freshman two years ago, Gill scored eight goals and added five assists in the first four games, but five of the goals came in one game.
Once he gets going, though, he’s a hard man to stop. In last season’s final seven games, he recorded 24 assists and had at least three each time except when he was blanked by Duke in the national quarterfinals. In the semifinal loss to Princeton, Gill contributed a career-high tying five assists (to go along with two goals).
Gill is currently 14th in school history with 70 assists and 21st in points with 118.
Today’s Expected Starting Line-up
With the loss of four All-Americans, a face-off specialist and a steady defenseman, Virginia’s starting line-up features as many new faces as it has in several years.
Conor Gill, one of the most gifted offensive performers in the nation, leads the attack once again. Adept at delivering the ball in tight spaces, he led the ACC and finished eighth in the nation in assists with an average of 2.67 apg. Joining Gill on attack are sophomore A.J. Shannon and senior Jamison Mullen. Shannon played primarily midfield last season, but is known for his ability to find the back of the net. He scored five goals vs. Loyola last weekend in UVa’s final preseason scrimmage. Mullen is a versatile performer who has seen time at attack and midfield throughout his career.
The first midfield consists of senior Hanley Holcomb, and sophomores Billy Glading and Chris Rotelli. Holcomb looks to bounce back from a frustrating season last spring when he spent a good portion of his time battling a leg injury. Rotelli ran on the second midfield a year ago and proved to be one of the team’s top rookies. Glading saw limited action as a rookie, but had an outstanding fall to earn a spot on the first unit.
Senior David Jenkins shared the face-off duties with the graduated Jason Hard the last two years, and will be the primary specialist this season. Sophomore Trey Whitty played in 11 games as a reserve long-stick middle last season, but moves in as the team’s top LSM due to the graduation of Peter Ragosa and Richard Reid.Preseason All-American Mark Koontz headlines the defense for coach Dom Starsia. Koontz spent his first two years playing in the shadow of the graduated Ryan Curtis, but is ready to claim his spot as one of the nation’s top defensemen this season. Joining him on defense are expected to be transfer Steve Burman and freshman Brett Hughes. Burman graduated from Bucknell last year, but had a year of eligibility remaining and moved to Virginia. His experience will prove invaluable, especially early in the year. Hughes, a high school All-American hailing from Koontz’ hometown of Upper Arlington, Ohio, has had an excellent preseason and looks to continue Virginia’s tradition of grooming defensemen.
Freshman Tillman Johnson takes over in goal. He becomes the second freshman in the last three years to start in goal for UVa.
Koontz Replaces Curtis as UVa’s Marquee Defensive Stalwart
Junior defenseman Mark Koontz has quickly established himself as one of the top defensemen in the nation. A preseason All-America choice this season, Koontz was one of only three sophomores named first- or second-team All-America in 2000 (joining teammate Conor Gill and Syracuse’s Josh Coffman).
He was also named to the All-ACC team, recognition that is even harder to receive than All-American, to become the first UVa sophomore defenseman named All-ACC since Scott Lind in 1984.
Playing in the shadow of two-time first-team All-American Ryan Curtis the last two years, Koontz very quietly led ACC long sticks with 72 ground balls (fifth overall) last spring.
A very athletic defenseman, Koontz will take over for Curtis in being assigned to the opposition’s top offensive threat.
He also possesses outstanding stick skills that enable him to be a potential threat on the fast break. As example of this occurred in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament against North Carolina. Following a Tar Heel miss, he scooped up the loose ball and raced down field. Spotting an open Ian Shure just past midfield, he hit Shure in stride who slid an off-balance shot into the net to give the Wahoos a double overtime win.
Steve Burman Adds Experience to Defense
Starting defenseman Steve Burman sports one of the most unusual backgrounds for a Cavalier in a long time.
A two-sport star (football, lacrosse) at Bucknell, Burman graduated from the Lewisburg, Pa., school last spring. He earned four letters as a linebacker for the football squad and three as a member of the Bison lacrosse team. Last season he was named All-Patriot league in lacrosse and finished second on the team in ground balls (42).
But with his undergraduate degree earned and a year of lacrosse eligibility remaining, Burman decided to venture south and join his younger brother David at UVa.
His presence in Charlottesville is welcomed by head coach Dom Starsia, who is faced with having to replace five of his top-seven defensemen from last season.
Healthy Holcomb Bolsters Midfield Play
Hanley Holcomb scored 27 goals two years ago and was one of the unsung Cavaliers during their championship season. But last season was a trying one for the lefty from Ridgewood, N.J. Hampered for much of the season with a nagging hamstring injury, his goal output dropped to 10 as he pressed to regain his scoring touch. He scored just once in the first six games (missed two due to injury) and failed to score more than two goals in any game.
Owner of one of the hardest shots in the game today, Holcomb has worked hard on both ends of the field during the preseason to become a more complete player and put last season behind him. An outstanding fall caught the notice of some of the preseason All-American pickers who named him to their preseason squads.
His experience will be needed on the first midfield as he is teamed with sophomores Chris Rotelli and Billy Glading. Rotelli was a member of the second midfield with Holcomb last spring, but Glading saw limited action.
Starsia’s Cavaliers vs. Lower Ranked Opponents
Virginia is ranked third in both preseason polls, while Towson comes into today’s game ranked 20th in the Brine/360 Lacrosse.com media poll and 21st in the Face-Off Yearbook coaches’ poll.
Since Dom Starsia took over the Virginia program in 1993, the Cavaliers have feasted upon lower or unranked opponents, winning 79 and losing only 16. The current group of seniors who began play in 1998 have an even more impressive record with 29 wins in 32 contests.
At home, Starsia’s Cavaliers are an impressive 43-5 vs. lower/unranked opponents, while the current senior class is 14-2 (.875). Their only home losses to lower/unranked opponents are Johns Hopkins (`98) and Syracuse (2000).