Virginia Travels to Top-Ranked Syracuse Saturday
Feb. 27, 2003
Charlottesville, Va. –
Virginia at Syracuse
March 1, 2003 * 3 pm
Carrier Dome * Syracuse, N.Y.
Virginia: 1-0 in 2003 (11-4 last year)
Syracuse: 1-0 in 2003 (15-2 last year)
Virginia: #4 in the Face-Off Yearbook preseason poll
Syracuse: #1 in the Face-Off Yearbook preseason poll
The Series vs. Syracuse:
Current Streak: L4
Biggest UVa Win: 8, 1995 (15-7)
Biggest SU Win: 9, 1938 (13-4)
UVa Goals: 208
SU Goals: 220
Starsia vs. SU: 4-9
Syracuse won 12-11 in double overtime of last season’s national semifinals
On the Air
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on the Syracuse University flagship radio station for lacrosse, ESPN Radio 1260 AM. The games can be heard through the internet at www.suathletics.com by clicking here.
SU student radio station WAER FM 88 is also broadcasting the game. Listen to the live webcast at their website here.
Saturday’s game is also being televised on a tape-delayed basis in the Syracuse area on Time Warner 13. This week’s game airs Sunday, March 2, at 4 p.m., on channel 13.
The Series vs. the Orangemen
The Cavaliers and Orangemen have staged some of the most thrilling battles in college athletics throughout the last decade, but the rivalry stretches back more than half a century. Syracuse won the first meeting 13-4 in 1938 and has won 10 of the 16 meetings all-time.
The two schools battled only three times between 1938-93, but have met at least once each season since 1994.
The two titans have clashed early in the regular season every year since 1995 in what is one of the most anticipated games of the season by lacrosse fans everywhere.
Syracuse has won eight of the last nine meetings dating back to 1997, including a 13-7 victory two years ago in the most recent game at the Carrier Dome. Virginia’s only win in this stretch was its 12-10 win in the championship game of the 1999 NCAA Tournament. Overall Syracuse has won the last four matchups.
The Orangemen swept both meetings last year–15-13 during the regular season meeting in Charlottesville and 12-11 in double overtime in the NCAA Tournament semifinals at Rutgers. From there the Orangemen went on to defeat Princeton 13-12 in the finals to claim their second title in three years.
Both teams are known for their high-powered offense, however it is interesting to note Syracuse’s 15-13 regular season win last March is the only time in the six meetings a team has scored more than 14 goals. The last time the Cavaliers scored more than 14 came in 1998 when they dropped an 18-17 decision in Charlottesville.
Syracuse has won three of the four match-ups at the Carrier Dome, including the last three (1997, `99, 2001).
Tight Games Characterize Series
One of the reasons this matchup is so widely anticipated include the potential for a high-scoring and tight contest.
Since 1996 a three-goal win can be considered a “blow out.” Eight of the last 10 games since then have been decided by just one or two goals. The largest margin of victory since `96 is Syracuse’s 13-7 win two years ago in the most recent game in the Carrier Dome. The Orangemen also won a 1998 NCAA Tournament game by the relatively “wide” margin of 17-14.
Since 1996, Virginia has won two games by a total of four goals, while Syracuse’s eight wins have been by a total of 17 goals (2.13/g).
In the history of the series that stretches back to 1938, the biggest win by either team is the 13-4 Syracuse win in 1938 in the first meeting between the two squads. Virginia’s biggest win is a 15-7 victory in the Carrier Dome in 1995.
Of the 16 games all-time between the two powerhouses, 10 have been decided by a margin of two goals or less.
Six Wahoos Receive Preseason All-American Nod
Six Cavaliers have been named to the 2003 Face-Off Yearbook preseason All-American squad. Three Cavaliers were named to the first-team–sophomore attackman John Christmas, junior goalie Tillman Johnson and senior midfielder Chris Rotelli. Junior defenseman Brett Hughes was named to the second team, while senior middie A.J. Shannon and sophomore attackman Joe Yevoli were third-team choices.
Christmas is the only sophomore named to the first- or second-team. He was named National Rookie of the Year last spring after scoring 29 goals to help lead UVa to the national semifinals.
Johnson became the first sophomore goalie named All-ACC in 19 years last season. He recorded 173 saves and is already 12th in school history in saves.
Rotelli was UVa’s only first-team All-American last spring after scoring 24 goals. One of the top middies on the nation, he is one of the few midfielders who makes an impact on both ends of the field.
Hughes has started every game of his career and will be looked upon to shut down some of the nation’s best attackmen again this spring.
Yevoli burst onto the national scene last year and led the ACC with 40 goals en route to winning the league’s Rookie of the Year award. He joins Christmas as the only sophs named to the top-three preseason teams.
Shannon flourished in his midfield role last season after moving from attack. A lethal offensive threat, he scored a career-high 25 goals to lead ACC middies.
Senior long stick midfielder Trey Whitty was named honorable mention preseason All-American. He emerged as one of the top LSMs in the country last season and has an uncanny knack for anticipating plays and picking off passes. A force in transition, he scored three goals and added eight assists.
Quartet Named Captains for `03
Bowen, a senior from Chappaqua, N.Y., is a very underrated player who quietly put together a solid season on close defense last spring. A recipient of the team’s Most Improved Player Award, Bowen racked up a career-high 30 ground balls.
Rotelli, the only Cavalier named first-team All-American last season, is considered one of the top midfielders in the country. The senior from Rumford, R.I. didn’t have to shoulder the entire offensive load last year thanks to the arrival of several newcomers, which enabled him to be a factor on both ends of the field, scoring 24 goals and collecting a career-high 10 assists.
Shannon, an honorable mention All-American last year from Whitby, Ontario, had a breakout season as a midfielder and led the team’s middies in points, assists and goals. The senior recorded a career-high 25 goals and 10 assists, while ranking sixth in the ACC in goals (1.67 gpg) and 11th in scoring (2.33 ppg).
Whitty, a very athletic long stick middie from Lutherville, Md., finished second in the ACC in ground balls (5.13/g) and 26th in the nation last season. The senior’s 77 ground balls are the most ever by a UVa long stick midfielder.
Virginia Fourth in Preseason Poll
The Cavaliers are ranked fourth in the Face-off Yearbook coaches preseason poll behind this week’s opponent, defending national champion Syracuse, national finalist Princeton and semifinalist Johns Hopkins.
Virginia faces nine teams ranked in the Face-Off Yearbook Top 25 including today’s opponent –#1 Syracuse, #2 Princeton next Saturday, #17 Notre Dame on March 11, #13 Towson on March 16, #3 Johns Hopkins on March 22, #5 Maryland on March 29, #9 North Carolina on April 5, #7 Duke on April 12 and #16 Penn State on April 26.
UVa’s schedule is rated the toughest in the country by Face-Off Yearbook.
Starsia’s Cavaliers vs. Higher Ranked Opponents
Virginia comes into this game ranked fourth in the Face-Off Yearbook coaches’ preseason poll, while Syracuse is the top-ranked squad.
Since the Cavaliers are typically found at or near the top of the polls, it’s not unusual they 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 17-20 record when being the lower-ranked team.
Last season the Cavaliers weren’t as successful vs. higher ranked teams going 1-2. The lone win was a 12-6 triumph over Johns Hopkins in their only game vs. the #1 team that year.
Virginia is 4-6 all-time as the lower-ranked team in this series, but three of the wins have occurred when the Orangemen were ranked #1.
Virginia on Artificial Turf
This Virginia’s second game in a row on artificial turf; the Cavaliers defeated Drexel 19-8 last weekend at the University Hall Turf Field. That win is Virginia’s fourth in a row on fake grass surfaces.
Last season the Cavaliers won all three games on non-grass surfaces, including wins at Towson and Cornell at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field.
Virginia’s last loss on astroturf was to Hofstra in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament at Army’s Michie Stadium.
Under head coach Dom Starsia the Cavaliers are 35-15 on artificial turf fields, including 17-11 away from home.
Virginia vs. #1
Syracuse comes into this afternoon’s contest ranked #1 in Face-Off Yearbook preseason poll, while the Cavaliers are #4.
It is interesting to note that this is the second time in a row Virginia has come to the Carrier Dome to face a Syracuse team sitting atop the polls.
Remarkably Virginia has won three time against Syracuse when the Orangemen have been ranked #1–1994, 1995 (at the Carrier Dome) and 1996.
Not surprisingly, Johns Hopkins is UVa’s most frequent #1 opponent–13 meetings.
Virginia is 11-17 all-time vs. the #1 team, including a 7-3 mark under Dom Starsia.
A look at UVa’s games against the #1 team are shown below. Virginia wins are listed in bold.
Year #1 Opp. UVa rank Site Winner, score
1973 Md. #3 Towson UVa, 10-9
1973 JHU #2 A JHU, 14-9
1974 Md. #2 A Md., 25-13
1975 JHU #4 A JHU, 10-9 (OT)
1976 Md. #6 A Md., 24-15 (OT)
1979 JHU #4 A JHU, 13-8
1979 JHU (NCAA) #5 A JHU, 16-7
1980 JHU #8 H UVa, 12-9
1981 JHU #4 A JHU, 15-13
1981 JHU (NCAA) #4 A JHU, 10-6
1983 JHU #4 A JHU, 12-6
1985 JHU #4 A JHU, 12-5
1985 JHU (NCAA) #4 A JHU, 11-8
1986 Md. #7 A UVa, 8-7 (OT)
1987 Md. #6 H Md., 12-5
1989 JHU #9T A JHU, 12-3
1991 UNC #5 H UNC, 11-10
1992 JHU #10 H UVa, 15-9
1993 UNC #7 H UVa, 13-12 (OT)
1994 Syra. #5 Md. UVa, 15-14 (OT)
1995 Syra. #2T A UVa, 15-7
1996 Syra. #2 H UVa, 17-15
1996 Md. #3 H UVa, 13-9
1996 Prince. (NCAA) #3 Md. Princeton, 13-12 (OT)
1997 Prince. #3 A Princeton, 14-13 (OT)
2001 Syra. #3 A SU, 13-7
2001 Md. #7 H UVa, 7-2
2002 JHU #4 H UVa, 12-6
Johnson Poised for Top 10
Junior Tillman Johnson enters this season as the top goalie in the nation. A preseason first-team All-American, he has started in the cage the last two seasons.
He was an honorable mention All-American a year ago after turning aside 173 shots, the most by a Cavalier netminder since 1996.
According to head coach Dom Starsia, Johnson has been outstanding during the preseason, making it difficult for the offense to even score during practice. Johnson readily admits that he’s playing at a high level heading into the season and allowed just five goals in six quarters of play during preseason scrimmages. He recorded seven saves last weekend in UVa’s win over Drexel.
Already 12th on UVa’s all-time saves list, Johnson needs just 32 saves to move into the top 10. A look at UVa’s career saves list is below.
Player, years saves
1. Rodney Rullman, 1972-75 553
2. Deeley Nice, 1960-62 498
3. Bo Moore, 1952-54 494
4. Chris Sanderson, 1995-98 493
5. Peter Sheehan, 1984-88 491
6. Cam MacLachlan, 1975-78 470
7. James Ireland, 1991-94 458
8. Tom Groeninger, 1988-91 455
9. Bob Hoover, 1955, 57-58 403
10. J.B. Meyer, 1981-84 364
11. Jim Shreeve, 1962-64 333
12. Tillman Johnson, 2001-pres. 332
Yevoli Leads UVa vs. Syracuse Twice in `02
Joe Yevoli began his college career last year with a four-goal performance in his first game against Drexel. But it was his second game that really got people’s attention. In that game he scored four goals against Syracuse to lead the Cavalier scoring effort. He scored four goals on three occasions last season and set a school record for goals by a rookie (40).
When the teams clashed later in the season in the national semifinals, Yevoli paced the offense again with three goals. Of UVa’s 24 goals vs. Syracuse last season, the sophomore from Massapequa, N.Y., scored seven.
A deft shooter, he opened his second season with three goals on just four shots last Saturday vs. Drexel. His first two goals helped UVa open a 4-1 lead early in the second quarter, while his third came midway through the final period.
Yevoli led the ACC with a UVa rookie record 40 goals to become the first freshman to lead the league since 1978 (Duke’s Dave Hagler) and was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year.
He was the third-leading freshman goal scorer last season and tied for ninth overall in the nation. His 40 goals are fourth among returning players. Manhattan’s Eugene Tanner led all freshmen with 51 goals is the leading returning goal scorer overall. Syracuse’s Player of the Year Michael Powell tallied 42 last season, while Lehigh’s Andrew Lucas, a freshman in `02, scored 41 goals.
Shannon Erupts With Five in Opener
Senior A.J. Shannon moved from attack to the midfield last year and turned in a big season. He tallied 25 goals and led the team’s middies in goals, assists and points (35), all career-high figures.
If one game sets a tone for the season, Shannon could be in for an even bigger season this year.
He scored a career-high five goals and added an assist to propel UVa to a 19-8 win over Drexel last Saturday in the season opener. The six points is also a career best.
The Whitby, Ontario, native scored three goals in the second quarter to push a slim 4-2 advantage to 6-3 late in the half.
He scored once in the third quarter, and had a goal and an assist in the final period, both plays that broke Drexel’s momentum and enabled the Cavaliers to go on runs to extend their lead. Shannon also had three ground balls to lead the team’s middies.
Christmas Lone Frosh All-American
John Christmas came to UVa last season with much fanfare and certainly lived up to expectations in capturing National Rookie of the Year honors. Christmas finished as the eighth-leading scorer in the country by a freshman and was the only freshman to make any of the postseason All-American squads.
Unlike classmate Joe Yevoli, Christmas had a tougher time finding the back of the net last season vs. Syracuse.
He notched just one goal in the regular season matchup in the rain in Charlottesville, but had a chance to tie the score in the waning moments. On a restart, Christmas had the ball in his stick but his shot with 10 seconds left was wide.
Against Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament semifinals, Christmas came to life by tallying three goals to tie Yevoli for scoring honors. For the second time in two meetings, Christmas had an opportunity to score the winner vs. the Orangemen. Midway through the second overtime he managed to get inside his defender and head to the goal, but he was ruled in the crease on the shot, turning the ball over. A short time later, Syracuse scored the winner to advance to the title game.
Starting Line-up Takes Shape
Head coach Dom Starsia and his staff have the luxury of having six preseason All-Americans among eight returning starters this season. Despite the graduation of the top offensive player (three-time All-American Conor Gill) and the leading defenseman (ACC Player of the Year Mark Koontz), the Cavaliers are well stocked for the upcoming campaign with few starting decisions to be made, just roles defined.
Despite being just sophomores, attackmen John Christmas and Joe Yevoli have a year’s experience under their belts and are poised to build on tremendous rookie seasons. Yevoli led the ACC with 40 goals and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year, while Christmas consistently creates problems for the defense with his speed and shiftiness. Joining them on attack this spring is freshman Matt Ward, a two-time Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year at Landon, the nation’s top-ranked prep team.
The first midfield features seniors Chris Rotelli and A.J. Shannon joined by rookie Kyle Dixon. Rotelli, UVa’s lone first-team All-American last season, has been a dynamic player throughout his career. He scored 24 goals last season and his 63 career scores are tops among active ACC players. Shannon is a powerful offensive threat who made a smooth and productive switch to midfield last season and responded with a career-high 25 goals. He has scored 61 times in his career and is tied for second among active ACC players. At 6-4, 210, Dixon is one of the biggest middies at UVa in several years. He set an Anne Arundel county scoring record with 389 points (193g, 196a) at Archbishop Spalding High School in the Baltimore area.
The second midfield unit will be a fluid one featuring a good mix of experience and youth to give the team a dazzling amount of depth. Seniors Billy Glading and Andrew Faraone, sophomore Nathan Kenney and freshmen Mike Abbott, Foster Gilbert and Matt Poskay will all see time in various roles. Glading is a steady player on both ends of the field and is likely to see the most time of any middie on the roster as a result. Faraone is a crafty player who is expected to be a contributor on offense this spring. Kenney played important minutes last year and finished with four goals. The batch of rookies will be able to ease into the college game, while gaining experience on the field and in practice while rotating with the veterans.
Preseason All-American, junior Brett Hughes, headlines the defense. An unsung player, he will draw the opposition’s top attackman this season. Seniors Ned Bowen and David Burman complete an experienced group. Bowen came into his own last season and was named the team’s Most Improved Player. Burman is an outstanding athlete and has filled a variety of roles during his career, both on close defense and in the midfield.
Senior Trey Whitty returns as the top long stick midfielder. He had a breakout season a year ago and has gained a knack for making big plays at key times. Joining him in the LSM role is speedy junior Andrew Agoliati.
Junior Tillman Johnson is the man between the pipes for the third year in a row. The top goalie in the country he has been dominating in the preseason, allowing only five goals in six quarters of action in two scrimmages.
Sophomore Jack deVilliers is the team’s primary faceoff man. He took most of the team’s draws last year and got better as the season progressed winning more than 54 percent in two of the last three games. His 110 wins are second in school history by a freshman. Senior Calvin Sullivan, the team’s #2 faceoff man, and Abbott should also see action.
Rotelli, Shannon Atop ACC Lists
Senior middies Chris Rotelli and A.J. Shannon are two of the leading midfielders in the country this season. Both were named preseason All-Americans–Rotelli to the first team, Shannon to the third team–by Face-Off Yearbook.
Shannon led ACC mids in scoring last spring with a career-high 25 goals, while Rotelli was right behind with 24.
Both players are among the leading active ACC players in goals and points. Their place on each chart is shown below.
Player, school, pos. gls
1. Chris Rotelli, UVa,M 63
2. A.J. Shannon, UVa, M 61
Kevin Cassese, Duke, M 61
Mike Mollott, Md., M/A 57
Player, school, pos. pts
1. Mike Mollott, Md., M/A 133
2. Kevin Cassese, Duke, M 92
3. Dan Lamonica, Md., A 90
4. Kevin Brennan, Duke, A 89
5. Chris Rotelli, UVa, M 83
A.J. Shannon, UVa, M 83
Middies Lead Way vs. Drexel
With the Virginia attack taking some time to get going last weekend vs. Drexel, a deep midfield picked up the slack.
The midfielders also contributed four assists; Rotelli had two, while Gilbert and Shannon each had one.
All told, midfielders scored 15 of Virginia’s 19 goals vs. the Dragons. The last time the midfield was so productive occurred in 2001 when midfielders scored 15 times in a 22-3 win over Radford.
Shannon is tied for seventh in the country this season with five goals, while his 5.00 gpg average is tied for third overall.
deVilliers Improves at Faceoff X
One of the big questions for the Cavaliers coming into the season centered on the play of faceoff man Jack deVilliers (pronounced duh-vill-yea). He was the team’s primary man at the faceoff X last season, a tough assignment for a rookie.
He won less than 50 percent of his draws for the season (.478) but improved during the latter part of the campaign and won more than half in two of his last three games. In perhaps his best performance of the year he won 13 (career high at the time) of 24 attempts in the national semifinals vs. Syracuse.
The sophomore from Lutherville, Md., worked hard in the offseason and is back bigger and stronger. The offseason work seems to be paying off. He had a fine preseason and turned in an outstanding effort in last week’s season-opening win over Drexel. He won 16 of 23 draws (.696) to contribute to the win.
Big Fourth Quarter Sparks Wahoos
The Cavaliers were somewhat sluggish in the first three quarters last Saturday vs. Drexel, holding an 11-6 lead after 45 minutes.
They got things cranked up in the final period, however, outscoring the Dragons 8-2 and using a six-goal run to put the game away.
The fourth quarter outburst was UVa’s best in the final period since scoring eight times vs. Johns Hopkins in 2000 (UVa won 16-8).
Last season’s best fourth quarter were five-goal efforts vs. Towson and North Carolina.