Men's Lacrosse Faces Top-Seed Maryland in First Round of ACC Tournament
April 20, 2001
Lake Buena Vista, Fla. –
#11 Virginia (5-5, 1-2 ACC, 4th seed) vs. #3 Maryland (9-1, 2-1 ACC, 1st seed)
April 20, 2001
Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex
The Series vs. the Terrapins
Maryland leads the all-time series with Virginia by a 38-29 margin. The rivalry between the two schools goes all the way back to 1926, the second year of the Virginia program. The teams have met at least once every season since 1950, making this the second-longest current series of any Virginia opponent (behind Johns Hopkins, 1948).
The teams have split the six ACC Tournament meetings, but Virginia has won the last two, including an 11-7 victory in last season’s title game in College Park.
Curiously, this is just the fourth meeting in the series played on a neutral site (Virginia has won two of these games).
Virginia has won the last five meetings in the series and if the Cavaliers are able to win this meeting, it would mark their longest winnning streak ever over the Terps.
The Cavaliers’ last five wins have all come in convincing fashion with margins between four and nine goals.
Despite the Cavaliers’ margin of victory during their five-game winning streak, the recent history of the series is marked by many close games. Ten of the last 18 games have been decided by one or two goals including one streak where eight straight (1991-96) were settled by fewer than three goals.
Maryland’s 38 wins over Virginia are the second-most wins by any school over the Cavaliers. Johns Hopkins has defeated UVa 51 times.
Meanwhile, Virginia’s 29 wins in the series make the Terps fourth on UVa’s list of most beaten opponents (UVa has defeated Duke 44 times, Washington & Lee 42 times and North Carolina 36 times).
Rankings Don’t Mean Much When Virginia & Maryland Meet
Virginia and Maryland have met 27 times since 1983 and one of the characteristics of the series since then is the inability to use rankings as a predictor of victory.
The lower ranked team has won 14 of the 27 games, although things have turned around somewhat in the last few years with the higher ranked team winning five of the last seven match-ups.
Virginia is 8-4 as the lower ranked team since 1983. The Cavaliers have won the last two times they have been ranked lower than Maryland–13-4 in 1999 and 7-2 earlier this season.
Maryland, on the other hand, is just 6-9 since `83 as the lower ranked team.
Starsia’s Cavaliers vs. Higher Ranked Opponents
Virginia dropped to 11th in this week’s USILA poll, while Maryland used its win over Johns Hopkins to jump two spots to #3.
Since Virginia is typically found at or near the top of the polls, it’s not unusual that the Cavaliers are the higher ranked team more often than not. However, on the rare occasions when the Cavaliers are the lower ranked squad they have had pretty good success springing an upset as shown by their 15-16 record when being the lower-ranked team.
Being the underdog wasn’t so good for UVa early this season, as the Cavaliers lost consecutive games to #1 Syracuse (13-7), #2 Princeton (8-4) and #6 Notre Dame (11-8) (rankings listed were as of game time). However, the Wahoos have turned things around as the underdog with a 9-8 quadruple overtime win over #5 Johns Hopkins and a 7-2 win over #1 Maryland in consecutive weeks last month.
Virginia as the Fourth Seed in ACC Tournament
This is only the second time Virginia has been the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament and the first time under head coach Dom Starsia. The only other time the Cavaliers were the tournament’s fourth seed occurred in 1992 when they dropped a 14-5 decision to North Carolina in the tournament’s first round/semifinals.
In fact, after being the fourth seed in 1992, Virginia has only been seeded as low as third once. In 1996 the Wahoos were the third seed and advanced to the finals before falling to North Carolina.
Not surprisingly, the fourth seed hasn’t fared well in previous ACC Tournaments. In the 1 vs. 4 first round game, the top seeds have won nine times and lost only three. The fourth seed’s wins are listed below.
1989–Duke 7, Maryland 6
1993–Maryland 9, Virginia 8 (ot)
1995–Duke 17, Virginia 10
Cavaliers Attempt to Defy History
The Cavaliers will need to defy several historical trends if they expect to defend their ACC title this season. They are the tournament’s fourth seed and have lost their last two games (North Carolina and Duke).
Only one #4 seed has won the ACC Tournament since the tournament was first played in 1989. Fourth-seeded Duke posted convincing victories over UVa (17-10) and North Carolina (14-6) to capture the league title in 1995. That season the Blue Devils finished 0-3 in the league.
Oddly, coming into the ACC Tournament on the heels of a two-game losing streak has been an unusual situation for the four combatants in the tournament. Virginia has the dubious “distinction” this season, but this is just the fifth time a team has entered the tournament on a two-game losing streak. North Carolina was the most recent team to lose two games coming into the tournament. The Tar Heels did so two years ago and then lost to Duke 9-7 in the tournament’s first round.
Duke has come into the tournament on a two-game losing streak three times–1989-90-96. The Blue Devils lost in the first round in 1990 and 1996, but did advance to the finals (a loss to UNC) in 1989. Maryland has never entered the tournament on a two-game losing streak.
First Game in Florida
This season’s ACC Tournament marks the first time UVa has played in Florida. In fact this is the farthest south Virginia has ever played by a wide margin. The Cavaliers have played many times in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, but have never travelled farther than Tobacco Road until this season.
During their spring break trip 1969 the Cavaliers were supposed to face Cornell at St. Andrews School in Boca Raton but the game was cancelled due to bad weather.
Defending Their ACC Title
Virginia attempts to claim its third consecutive ACC title for the first time since winning three straight championships from 1983-85 (when the champion was determined through regular season play).
The Cavaliers have won 14 ACC titles overall, including three under head coach Dom Starsia (1997-99-2000).
If the Cavaliers are able to win this season’s tournament, they would become the first team since North Carolina in the early `90s to win as many as three consecutive ACC championships. The Tar Heels won the first six ACC Tournaments from 1989-94.
UVa Wins ACC Opener, Then Drops Two Straight
Following its 7-2 win over then #1 Maryland on March 31 in its ACC opener, the Cavaliers needed to defeat either North Carolina or Duke to secure the top seed in the ACC Tournament.
But the Cavaliers dropped close decisions to the Tar Heels (7-5) and the Blue Devils (10-9) to fall to the fourth seed in the tournament with a 1-2 league record. They finished with the same 1-2 league record as North Carolina, but lost the tie breaker with the head-to-head loss to the Tar Heels.
Virginia’s league mark this season marks only the fourth time since the inception of the tournament format in 1989 that a team has posted a 1-2 ACC record with the lone win coming at the expense of the tournament’s top seed.
In 1994 Duke was 1-2 with its only ACC win coming against top seed Virginia. The Blue Devils accomplished the feat again in 1996 with their only win coming against top seed North Carolina. Most recently it occurred in 1999 when North Carolina’s lone league win was over top seed Duke.
Cavaliers Dominate Top-Ranked Maryland in 7-2 Win
Freshman goaltender Tillman Johnson recorded 16 saves, including several at point-blank range, to help #7 Virginia defeat #1 Maryland 7-2 on March 31 in this season’s first meeting between the two. Maryland’s two goals are the fewest the Terrapins have scored since falling to Army 10-1 in 1948.
The win is the Cavaliers’ fifth in a row over Maryland and the fourth time they have beaten Maryland when the Terps have been ranked #1 in the country.
Senior middie Hanley Holcomb and freshman attack Justin Mullen provided the offense for Virginia, netting two goals apiece. Two of attackman Conor Gill’s four assists came on goals scored by Mullen, including the first goal of the game, which came with 10:00 remaining in the first quarter. Holcomb tallied his first goal minutes later on an unassisted, left-hand crank with 5:08 to play in the first.
Johnson held Maryland scoreless for the first 35:51 of the game, one week after he shut out Johns Hopkins during the last 33:35 of a four-overtime victory.
Maryland finally beat the Cavalier netminder on a goal by attackman Dan LaMonica with 9:09 remaining in the third period to make the score 5-1. The Cavaliers answered seven seconds, however, as midfielder David Jenkins took the faceoff, scooped up a ground ball and fed Ian Shure to wrest momentum away from the Terrapins and give the Cavaliers a 6-1 lead.
The Virginia defense kept Maryland attackman Andrew Combs in check, holding the nation’s leading scorer without a point until he scored with 26 seconds remaining on a deflected shot. Combs, who had netted 31 goals coming into the game, had scored at least three times in each of Maryland’s seven games to that point.
Sophomore Ned Bowen, making his first start on close defense this season, was responsible for holding Combs in check, allowing him to score just once on six shots.
Junior Mark Koontz and freshman Brett Hughes made life difficult for Maryland feeders Mike Mollot and Dan LaMonica, preventing either from recording an assist in the game. Koontz led the UVa long sticks with seven ground balls, while Hughes gobbled up six.
Johnson Named ACC Player of the Week for His Performance vs. Maryland
Goalie Tillman Johnson was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week for his play in the Cavaliers’ 7-2 win over then #1 Maryland on March 31 in Virginia’s only conference win of the season.
Johnson, a freshman from Annapolis, Md., turned in a tremendous performance against the Terrapins. He recorded 16 saves, including several from point-blank range, while giving up just two goals. He held them scoreless for the first 35 minutes of action. By the time Maryland scored its first goal, the Cavaliers had built a 5-0 lead. Maryland’s two goals were the fewest the Terps have scored in a game since 1948.
He is the only freshman in the ACC to win the league’s weekly award this season and the first to win it since Conor Gill won the award in 1999.
This was the second week in a row Johnson won a player of the week award. He was named the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse.com Division I National Player of the Week for his play in UVa’s 9-8 quadruple overtime win over Johns Hopkins on March 24.
Cavaliers Fall to Duke in Final Tune-up Before ACC Tournament
Mack Hardaker’s goal with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth period lifted 15th-ranked Duke to a 10-9 win over the ninth-ranked Cavaliers last Saturday in Durham.
Hardaker beat Virginia goalie Tillman Johnson from 15 feet out on the right side for the game-winner.
Virginia jumped on top 2-0 on goals by Conor Gill and Eric Leibowitz, but Duke closed the first quarter with Chris Hartofilis and Alex Lieske finding the back of the net for a 2-2 tie. Chris Rotelli scored the first of his four goals on the day to give the Cavaliers a 3-2 lead, and Gill followed with a score for a two-goal cushion. Rotelli then scored an extra-man goal at the 4:47 mark of the second quarter, but Duke fought back to pull within one goal at intermission as Kevin Brennan tallied a pair of goals in the final 4:06 of the half.
Brennan’s goal at the 13:17 mark of the third period knotted the game at 5-5, but Virginia responded with goals by Brett Wagner and Ian Shure in a 26-second span to claim a 7-5 advantage. Duke’s Kevin Cassese and Hartofilis each scored with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter to tie the score at seven going into the fourth quarter.
With 7:37 left to play, Brennan gave Duke its first lead of the game with an unassisted goal, but Rotelli tied the game less than three minutes later. On the ensuing face-off, Scott Bross controlled the possession and raced to goal, netting the first goal of his career to push the Blue Devils back on top, 9-8. Rotelli would again tie the game, with his final goal of the day coming at the 3:02 mark on an assist from Gill, thus setting the stage for Hardaker’s game-winner.
Duke’s Matt Breslin made eight saves in goal while Johnson stopped 13 Blue Devil shots.Duke dominated the face-offs, winning 15-of-23 chances.
Rotelli led the Cavalier offense with four goals while Gill added two goals and an assist. Brennan’s five points on four goals and one assist paced the Blue Devils. Hartofilis contributed two goals and one assist while Cassese picked up one goal and two assists.
Starsia Closes in on Rare Coaching Feat
With each victory, Virginia head coach Dom Starsia moves closer to several coaching milestones. In 19 seasons as a collegiate head coach at Brown and UVa, Starsia has fashioned a 198-80 record and is the seventh-winningest active Division I coach. He needs just two wins to join the select group of coaches with 200+ career wins.
In his ninth year at the helm of the Virginia program, Starsia’s Cavalier squads have compiled a 97-34 overall record. Starsia needs just three more victories to become only the second coach in school history to win 100 games. Jim Adams won a school-record 137 games (and lost 60) at Virginia from 1978-92.
Starsia won 101 games in 10 seasons at Brown and as he closes in on 200 career victories, he is also drawing nearer to becoming only the third coach in college history (as best as we can tell) to win 100-or-more games at two different schools.
A look at the known coaches who have won 100+ games at two different schools are listed below. It is interesting to note that the two coaches with 100+ wins at two schools are both still coaching.
Head coach first school second schoolJack Emmer Wash. & Lee, 108-47 (`73-83) Army, 146-105 (`84-pres.)Dave Urick Hobart, 122-30 (`80-89) Georgetown, 114-46 (`90-pres.)Dom Starsia Brown, 101-46 (`83-92) Virginia, 97-34 (`93-pres.)
Mohler Erupts for Five Goals vs. Radford
Midfielder Brenndan Mohler had a game against Radford he’s likely to remember for a long while. Known primarily for his prowess as a defensive middie, Mohler erupted vs. the Highlanders by scoring five goals to lead the offense. The junior from Catonsville, Md., came into the game with one goal in his career.
Four of his goals came in the first half as the Cavaliers built a 17-2 halftime lead.Mohler’s outburst is the biggest by a Cavalier since 1999 when Conor Gill scored five goals against Johns Hopkins in the national semifinals.
Gill Sets Career High for Assists in a Game
While Brenndan Mohler was finding the back of the nets five times against Radford, Conor Gill was making it possible for Mohler and his mates to score a season-high 22 goals.
In his role as offensive playmaker, Gill was spectacular vs. the Highlanders, passing for a career-high six assists (all in UVa’s nine-goal second quarter). Gill’s six assists are the most by a Cavalier since Tim Whiteley’s six vs. Harvard in the 1996 NCAA playoffs.
It’s not surprising to see that how Gill goes, so goes the Virginia offense. He was brilliant in the upset over then #1 Maryland earlier in the season with four assists in the 7-2 win.
The last two weekend’s Gill’s performance has been reflective of the offense’s overall sluggishness. Two weeks ago vs. North Carolina he scored a goal and added an assist, but the offense had trouble getting going and scored just five goals.
He tied his season high with two goals and had one assist last weekend vs. Duke, but the offense still had difficulty sustaining consistent pressure.
With 28 assists, Gill is second in the nation and leads the ACC by a wide margin. His 28 assists are already tied for 21st on UVa’s all-time single-season list.
Gill has 98 career assists and is tied with Michael Watson for sixth in school history. He needs just two more assists to become the sixth player in UVa history to reach the century mark.
Gill is also working his way up the all-time ACC assists list as shown below.
Player, school, years assists 14. Mike Caravana, UVa, 1980-83 104 15. Kevin Pehlke, UVa, 1991-94 101 16. CONOR GILL, UVa, 1999-pres. 98 Dave Hagler, Duke, 1978-80, 82 98 Michael Watson, UVa, 1994-97 98
Jenkins Move to Third in Face-off Wins
For the last three years David Jenkins shared UVa’s face-off duties with Jason Hard, giving 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 has taken most of the team’s draws this season.
So far this season Jenkins has won 56.8 percent of his draws (96 of 169).
He had one of his best games of the season in the win over Johns Hopkins, winning 14 of 23 draws (.609). Perhaps his most important win came in the fourth overtime when UVa claimed the draw and scored on the possession to win the game.
Jenkins has won 60.7 percent of his career face-offs, the second-highest total in school history. Steve Kraus holds the school record with a 68.0 winning percentage.
Last weekend vs. Duke, Jenkins claimed eight faceoffs and passed Tony Nugent for third place on UVa’s all-time wins chart with 368 wins.
The winningest face-off men in school history are listed below.
name, years taken W L Pct.1. Jason Hard, 1997-00 949 539 410 .5682. Brad Wood, 1984-87 707 423 284 .5983. David Jenkins, 1998-01 606 368 238 .6074. Tony Nugent, 1992-95 668 362 306 .5425. Steve Kraus, 1978-81 478 325 153 .680
Versatile Rotelli Leads UVa in Goals
Chris Rotelli has seen action at attack and in the midfield this season in order to give Virginia some scoring punch. The sophomore from Rumford, R.I., has been the lone Cavalier who has not had trouble finding the back of the net so far this season.
He leads the team with 20 goals (taking just four games to top his goal total of last season) and is the only Cavalier to score a goal in every game this season. Rotelli is also third on the team with six assists and ranks second in total points (26).
Rotelli is third in the ACC in goals and ranks seventh in total points (20g, 6a, 26 pts.)Moved to the attack for the first time for the Syracuse game, Rotelli responded with a then career-high three goals to lead the Cavalier attack. He turned in his second hat trick vs. Notre Dame sharing the scoring honors with A.J. Shannon.
He has been the team’s one consistent offensive threat recently, leading the team with two goals against North Carolina and a career-high four scores vs. Duke the last time out.
Defense Shuts Down Opponents Recently
Despite starting a freshman in goal, another on close defense, as well as a sophomore and a junior on close defense, the Cavalier defense has been one of the team’s strong points for most of the season.
Virginia is sixth in the country, allowing an average of 7.50 goals per game this season. Syracuse’s 13 goals are the most given up by UVa, while Maryland’s two goals are the fewest an opponent has scored.
Even though the Cavaliers relinquished 10 goals to Duke last Saturday, the defense has been rather stingy over the last month, allowing an average of 5.83 goals in the last six games.The defense has been especially stingy in the last six games, giving up an average of 5.0 goals per game. The 35 goals given up in the last six games is the best six-game performance by UVa since 1986 when the Cavaliers gave up 33 goals in a six-game stretch in April (Maryland thru North Carolina).
Goalie Tillman Johnson has allowed just 17 goals, while making 54 saves, in his last 253:15 going back to the second half of the Johns Hopkins game. Based on a 60-minute game that is a 4.03 GAA and a .791 save percentage.
Junior Mark Koontz headlines the close defense. He is second in the ACC in ground balls, trailing only teammate David Jenkins. So far this season Koontz has snapped up 53 GBs and is averaging 5.3 per game. His ability to be a vacuum cleaner for ground balls isn’t surprising since he led ACC long sticks in ground balls last season.
Sophomore Ned Bowen made his first start on close defense against Maryland in the first meeting between the two and was responsible for holding Andrew “Buggs” Combs, the nation’s leading goal scorer, to just one goal (and that came with less than 30 seconds to play).
Freshman Brett Hughes has been a workhorse as well. An excellent athlete who hails from the same hometown as Koontz (Upper Arlington, Ohio), he has scooped up 32 ground balls. Starsia and his staff believe that Hughes has a bright future ahead of him.
Shure Adds Punch to Offense
Junior attackman Ian Shure got off to a slow start this season, due in part to the effects of offseason surgery.
He didn’t see his most extended action until the Princeton game when he turned in a two-assist, one-goal performance.
He scored a goal and added an assist in his first start against Notre Dame and added two goals and three assists (for a career-high five points) in the win over Denver four days later.
Shure is second on the team in assists (eight), and is tied for third with nine goals.
Winning the Ground Ball War
One of the goals of the Virginia coaching staff this season has been the desire to snag more ground balls than the opposition. This season the Cavaliers are averaging 47.7 ground balls per game and have claimed more ground balls than their opponents on six occasions this season, winning four.
When Virginia has lost the ground ball war, the outcome generally hasn’t been good. The Cavaliers have lost three times in four games when having fewer ground balls than the opposition, including the last two.
Virginia scooped up a season-high 64 ground balls against Radford and averaged 54.5 ground balls per game during its recent four-game winning streak.
The Cavaliers have won 29 of their last 31 games dating back to 1998 when snapping up at least 50 ground balls.
Face-off specialist David Jenkins leads the ACC with 72 ground balls, which isn’t unusual since he’s led the team the last two years.
All-American defenseman Mark Koontz is second in the league–and the leader among the long sticks–with 53 ground balls. It’s also not unusual to see Koontz leading the way since he was tops among UVa’s long sticks a year ago. Goalie Tillman Johnson and attackman Conor Gill have both scooped up 41 ground balls and rank seventh in the league.
Holcomb Scores in Bunches
Senior middie 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 he failed to score more than two goals in any game.
Owner of one of the hardest shots in the game today, Holcomb has had an up-and-down season, while also battling a slight hamstring injury.
So far this season he tied for third on the team with nine goals and it is interesting to note that he has scored them in bunches.
He notched three goals in the opener vs. Towson to share the scoring honors with Billy Glading.After his hat trick vs. Towson, he failed to score in the next three games. He tied his career-high with four goals against Denver and added two in this season’s first meeting with Maryland.
The Cavaliers have been almost invincible when Holcomb turns in a multi-goal game. They are 16-1 (3-0 in 2001) when he scores at least twice.
Power Shortage Reaches Charlottesville
Perhaps one of the oddities of the season so far has been Virginia’s inability to score. Normally one of the most high-powered squads around (nation’s top-scoring offense in 1997 and 1999), the Cavalier offense has experienced a power shortage similar to that faced in California earlier this year (well, maybe not exactly, but close).
So far this season the Cavaliers are averaging just 9.80 goals per game and have reached double digits three times. Their 22 goals vs. Radford represents a season high. The last time Virginia failed to score at least 10 goals seven times in one season occurred in 1989 when the Cavaliers were held under 10 goals on seven occasions.
Despite ranking second in the ACC in offense, Virginia has just two players with 10+ goals. Chris Rotelli leads the team (and is third in the ACC) with 20 goals, while A.J. Shannon is next on the team with 12. Conor Gill, Hanley Holcomb and Ian Shure are all sitting on the doorstep with nine goals apiece.
The seven goals the Cavaliers scored against Syracuse on March 3 ended a streak of 21 consecutive games dating back to the middle of the 1999 season where they reached double figures. That streak is the second-longest streak in school history. The school record is 44 consecutive games with 10+ goals from 1995-97.
The four goals vs. Princeton is UVa’s lowest output under Dom Starsia, while the five goals vs. North Carolina is the second-lowest total under him. Overall, five of the 14-lowest scoring games under Starsia have come this season.
First Round Rematch vs. Regular Season Victim
The Cavaliers face Maryland, the only ACC team they beat this season, in the first round of the ACC Tournament. No doubt the Terps are looking for a measure of revenge, while the Cavaliers try to make it two straight this season.
An ACC Tournament rematch isn’t so bad for the Cavaliers as they have a little bit of history on their side. Since the inception of the ACC Tournament in 1989, Virginia has played 12 games in the tournament against a team it defeated during the regular season. In those games the Cavaliers are 7-5, however, they have won their last six dating back to the 1995 tournament.
The Cavaliers are 2-2 in the tournament against Maryland in seasons when they beat the Terps.
Virginia dropped the ACC Tournament rematch in 1991 and 1993, but have won the last two–1999 and 2000 (en route to winning the league title both years).
Three Named to 2001 All-ACC Men’s Lacrosse Team
Three Cavaliers highlight the 2001 All-Atlantic Coast Conference men’s lacrosse team as selected by the league’s four head coaches. Juniors Conor Gill and Mark Koontz are repeaters from a year ago, while sophomore Chris Rotelli was selected for the first time.
Gill is considered one of the top offensive playmakers in the game today. He leads the ACC and is second in the nation with 28 assists. A first-team All-American last season, Gill is currently tied for 16th in ACC history with 98 career assists.
Koontz has established himself as one of the nation’s outstanding defensemen. A second-team All-American in 2000, he is currently second in the ACC in ground balls with 53. He is a key component to a defense that is ranked second nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 7.50 goals per game.
Rotelli has been Virginia’s most consistent scorer this season and leads the team with 20 goals. Alternating between the midfield and attack, he is the only player on the team to score at least one goal in every game this season. The Rumford, R.I., native is third in the conference in goals this spring.
The complete team is below.
2001 Men’s Lacrosse All-ACC Team
Player Class Position SchoolConor Gill Jr A VirginiaMark Koontz Jr D VirginiaChris Rotelli Soph M VirginiaScott Bross Sr M DukeKevin Cassese Soph M DukeChris Hartofilis Sr M DukeAndrew Combs Sr A MarylandMichael Howley Soph D MarylandPat McGinnis Sr G MarylandBobby Gormsen Sr D North CarolinaJeff Sonke Sr A North Carolina