'Hoos Prepare for National Title Clash with Johns Hopkins
May 24, 2003
The Virginia men’s lacrosse team advanced to the national championship game with a convincing 14-4 victory over Maryland Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The ‘Hoos were led by goalie Tillman Johnson, who tied a career-high with 18 saves, including several spectacular stops from point-blank range.
“I felt good all day,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to stay relaxed and composed and play my game today. I didn’t want the crowd or the whole tournament to overwhelm me. I just wanted to stay focused on the job at hand and that was my main objective going into this game.”
“Those kinds of saves, what they do is lift the whole group,” head coach Dom Starsia said after his team posted its school-record 14th win of the season. “As a former defenseman myself there is nothing that does more for you than playing in front of somebody who is stopping the ball for you and giving you that kind of effort. I think subtly it wore on Maryland a little bit and I think they looked like they were trying to cut it a little too fine offensively with some of their shots. That’s the flip side of what it does when you have a kid in the cage who is making those kinds of saves. All of a sudden you are trying to pick your corners and that puts a little bit too much pressure on the shooters.”
The Cavaliers will meet Johns Hopkins in Monday’s championship game. The match-up of the nation’s top two teams will begin at 11:00 a.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Blue Jays downed Virginia 8-7 on March 22.
“It was a good game [the last time Virginia played Johns Hopkins],” ACC Player of the Year Chris Rotelli said. “It was another one of those games from the regular season that we don’t think we played that well in. We just want to come out and play our best lacrosse. We’ve got one game left and I think we came close at times today to playing our best lacrosse, but I think playing well for 60 minutes is still out there.