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May 25, 2003

Baltimore, Md. –
NCAA Tournament Finals
#2 Virginia (13-2, second seed) vs. #1 Johns Hopkins (14-1, first seed)
May 26, 2003 – 11:00 am
M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, Md.

Virginia Defeats Maryland to Advance to NCAA FinalsThe Cavaliers advanced to the finals following their 14-4 win over Maryland in Saturday’s semifinals. Virginia blew the game open with a 9-1 run during which time the Cavaliers held the Terps scoreless for almost 24 minutes. Goalie Tillman Johnson recorded six saves in the first quarter to set the tone for the rest of the day and highlighted a spectacular defensive effort. Virginia did not allow more than one goal in a quarter and also didn’t allow Maryland to score consecutive goals.

Overall, Maryland’s four goals are the fewest ever allowed in the semifinals, while the 14 goals are the most scored against Maryland since Johns Hopkins scored 20 in 2000. The 10-goal margin of victory was the worst suffered by Maryland since a 13-3 loss to Johns Hopkins in 1999.

A pair of underclassmen spearheaded the Cavalier offense. Freshman Matt Ward scored four times and added an assist, while sophomore Joe Yevoli tallied three times and added two assists as eight different Cavaliers scored in the game.

Cavaliers Face Johns Hopkins for TitleVirginia is making its seventh appearance in the national title game and its first since winning it all in 1999. These two teams aren’t strangers in the finals-they have met twice before. The Cavaliers won their first NCAA title with a 13-12 win over the Blue Jays in 1972. The Blue Jays gained a measure of revenge with a 9-8 double overtime win in 1980.

Overall Virginia is 2-4 in title games. The Cavaliers won the previously mentioned meeting in 1972 over Johns Hopkins and defeated Syracuse 12-10 four years ago in their most recent appearance. Both titles were won at Maryland’s Byrd Stadium.

The Cavaliers’ four title game losses have all been in overtime. Of the eight overtime finals, the Cavaliers have played in four. The losses occurred in: 1980-Johns Hopkins 9-8, 1986-North Carolina 10-9, 1994-Princeton 9-8, and 1996-Princeton 13-12.

Cavaliers Post School-Record 14 WinsVirginia has won a school-record 14 games this spring, eclipsing the previous record of 13 wins in 1994, ’99 and 2000. All seasons of 13+ wins have occurred under head coach Dom Starsia. The Cavaliers have won 12-or-more games six times in Starsia’s 11 seasons in Charlottesville.

The Cavaliers and Johns Hopkins have the most wins in the country this season.

Youngsters Make Mark in Semifinal WinSome might have noticed during Saturday’s semifinals that Virginia frequently played with four freshmen and two sophomores on its offensive end. The starting attack features two sophs-John Christmas and Joe Yevoli as well as freshman Matt Ward.

They were teamed frequently by a midfield consisting of freshmen Kyle Dixon, Foster Gilbert and Matt Poskay.

The youngsters were seemingly unfazed by playing in the game’s biggest showcase. Virginia’s rookies combined to score six goals and add four assists in the win. Ward equalled Maryland’s team total with a career-high four goals. He also added an assist to tie his high of five points. Dixon added a goal and an assist, the third game in a row in which he’s found the back of the nets. Poskay scored his fifth goal of the playoffs on a nice feed from Gilbert, who contributed two assists on the afternoon.

Christmas was held scoreless by Maryland’s Michael Howley, but Yevoli made up the difference with three goals and two assists. Yevoli was the ACC’s leading goal-scorer last season, but this season he has concentrated more on setting other players up for scores and leads the conference in assists. His three goals mark the first time since the Syracuse game 14 games ago that he scored more than twice.

Cavaliers Look to Repeat 1999 FeatVirginia went 13-3 in winning the national title in 1999 and had the opportunity to avenge all three losses in rematches later in the season. That year the Cavaliers lost to Syracuse, Johns Hopkins and Duke during the regular season. Virginia got back at Duke with an 8-7 win over the Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament finals. In the NCAA Tournament, Conor Gill, then just a freshman, scored five first quarter goals to lead UVa to a 16-11 win over Johns Hopkins in the semifinals to repay the Blue Jays. Then in the finals the Cavaliers defeated Syracuse 12-10 for their first national title since 1972 and avenge an opening game loss to the Orangemen.

This season Virginia has suffered two defeats, both 8-7 decisions to Johns Hopkins and Maryland in back-to-back games in late March. The Cavaliers paid Maryland back for their most recent loss with a 14-4 win in Saturday’s semifinals. That win sets up an opportunity to gain a win over Johns Hopkins in Monday’s finals.

It’s interesting to note there have been several rematches during this postseason. This championship game meeting is the fifth time since the quarterfinals there has been a regular season rematch. Virginia, no doubt, hopes the recent trend of rematches continues. Three of the four previous quarterfinal/semifinal rematches have been won by teams that lost the first meeting-Syracuse d. Princeton, Johns Hopkins d. Syracuse, Virginia d. Maryland. The only match-up that was swept was Johns Hopkins vs. Towson, who met in the quarters.

Johnson Stakes Claim as Nation’s BestJunior goalie Tillman Johnson put on a remarkable show in Saturday’s semifinal win over Maryland. Despite playing in the muck due to the recent rains, he was simply spectacular, recording 18 saves to tie his career high. As he has done all season, he snuffed all manner of shots-near, far, high, low. He was particularly effective in the first quarter with six saves. His play in the opening 15 minutes set the tone for the rest of the day.

“I felt good all day,” Johnson said after the game. “I just wanted to stay relaxed and composed and play my game. I didn’t want to let the crowd and the whole tournament overwhelm me. I just try to stay focused on the job at hand and that was my objective for this game.”

He turned back six more shots in the second quarter as his efforts clearly frustrated the Terrapins and enabled the Cavaliers to build a 5-2 halftime lead. Maryland took just eight shots, Johnson saved four, in the third quarter as theWahoos outscored Maryland 6-1 to build a comfortable working margin.

“Tillman (Johnson) was the difference in the first half,” observed Maryland head coach Dave Cottle. “He made some great saves.”

But as remarkable as Johnson’s play was, for those who see him on a regular basis, it’s his consistency that’s his leading characteristic. “He’s been playing that way since the first day of practice,” head coach Dom Starsia said following the game. He added that it’s been frustrating for his starting attack who sometimes has trouble beating Johnson in practice.

In the postseason Johnson is averaging 12.3 saves per game, while compiling a .771 save percentage. He has a 4.52 GAA mark in the NCAA Tournament and hasn’t allowed more than seven goals in any playoff game this season.

His .632 save percentage this season is the best by a UVa netminder since J.B. Meyer’s .655 percentage in 1984. Johnson’s 191 saves this season are third in Virginia history and just four away from the single-season school record. Deeley Nice had 195 saves in 1961 and Bo Moore 192 in 1954.

Slow Starts Doom CavaliersOne characteristic of Virginia’s two losses this season is its play in one fateful quarter-both in the first half.Against Johns Hopkins, the Blue Jays jumped to an early 5-0 first quarter lead. After the fast start their offense went dormant, allowing the Cavaliers to claw their way back into the game. Despite being blanked for almost 34 minutes, Virginia managed to outscore the Blue Jays 5-2 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 7-6 early in the fourth.

The teams traded goals in the final eight minutes, and Virginia still had a chance to tie at the end but Matt Ward’s shot at the horn hit the side of the net.

After scoring the game’s first two goals vs. Maryland in the next game, the Cavaliers went scoreless for more than 33 minutes as the Terrapins used a seven-goal run to take a 7-2 lead late in the third period. Once again the Cavaliers used a frantic late rally by scoring two quick goals in the final two minutes to pull within one. They had a chance to tie in the closing seconds but couldn’t get off a decent shot.

Giving up the big quarter has proven disastrous to the Cavaliers during the last four seasons. Since 2000 Virginia is 5-10 when allowing at least five goals in a quarter.

Balanced ScoringVirginia features four players with at least 40 points, and another with 38. Six Cavaliers have scored 20-or-more goals, just the second time in school history that’s happened. Joe Yevoli leads the way with 49 points (23g, 26a). He is followed closely by John Christmas (team high 34g, 11a) and Matt Ward (25g, 20a), who both have tallied 45 points. Chris Rotelli has registered 44 points (25g, 19a) as he bids to become the first UVa middie with 20 goals and 20 assists in a season. A.J. Shannon is second on the team with 30 goals.

The Series vs. the Blue JaysJohns Hopkins holds a commanding 52-20-1 record in the all-time series with Virginia. The rivalry between the two schools goes all the way back to two meetings in 1904, well before lacrosse was recognized as a varsity sport at UVa. The series didn’t resume until 1926, the second “official” year of the UVa varsity program (but still 22 years before UVa joined the USILA). The teams have met at least once every season since 1948, the longest current series of any Virginia opponent.

John Hopkins’ 52 wins over Virginia are by far the most wins by any school over the Cavaliers. Maryland is next with 40 wins over UVa.

Virginia has also played more games against Hopkins than any one else (73). Again, Maryland is second with 71 games vs. the Cavaliers.

The Blue Jays have won seven of the 11 meetings in the NCAA Tournament, but the teams have split the two previous meetings in the championship game. Virginia won its first NCAA title with a 13-12 win over the Blue Jays in 1972, but Johns Hopkins won the 1980 title with a 9-8 double overtime win.

This game features some historical patterns that could bode well for the Cavaliers.Known as a team that likes the up-tempo pace, Virginia would certainly like to see its offense explode vs. the Blue Jays since the Cavaliers are 17-7 all-time when scoring at least 10 goals. In fact, when UVa scores more than 13 goals they have won 11 of 14 games against Hopkins.

UVa can also be successful if it is able to contain the Hopkins offense because it is 13-4-1 when allowing fewer than 10 goals. The Blue Jays have not scored more than eight goals in the last four games vs. the Cavaliers.

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