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March 20, 2004

Charlottesville, Va. –

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Game 5

Virginia at #19 Towson
March 21, 2004 * 1 pm
Johnny Unitas Stadium * Towson, Md.

Game Info

The Records:
Virginia: 1-4
Towson: 1-2

The Rankings: (USILA/Inside Lacrosse)
Virginia: RV/17
Towson: T19/19

The Series vs. Towson:
Overall: 6-3
Home: 3-1
Away: 3-2
Current Streak: W3
Biggest UVa Win: 8, 2003 (10-2)
Biggest TU Win: 4, 1974 (18-14)
UVa Goals: 112
TU Goals: 94
Starsia vs. TU: 3-0

Last Meeting:
Virginia won 10-2 last season

Radio Coverage: You can listen to Jed Williams and Doug Tarring call all the action of Sunday’s game by following this link WINA AM 1070 radio broadcast of men’s lacrosse.

The Series vs. the Tigers
Virginia leads the all-time series by a 6-3 margin. The schools met on an annual basis from 1972-77, but then didn’t meet again until the 1991 NCAA Tournament, a game Towson won 14-13 in Charlottesville.

A 10-year gap followed before the series resumed three years ago with a 12-8 Cavalier victory in their season opener, the first of three straight wins for UVa. The four-goal margin proved to be the biggest defeat the Tigers suffered during a season in which they advanced to the final four.

Virginia’s 10-2 win last season in Charlottesville stands as the largest margin of victory in the series. Overall UVa’s average victory margin is 5.4 goals (5.7 during current three-game winning streak). (This does not include the 1975 game which was forfeited to Virginia, nor the 1976 game that was ruled a “no contest.”)

Two of Towson’s three series victories have been by one-goal (1977, ’91). The Tigers’ three series wins have been by an average of 2.0 goals.

Starsia’s Cavaliers vs. Higher Ranked Opponents
Virginia is unranked in this week’s USILA coaches poll, the first time since the end of the 1987 season the Cavaliers haven’t been ranked (ending a streak of 150 consecutive rankings). Meanwhile, Towson comes in ranked in a tie with Ohio State for 19th.

Since the Cavaliers are typically found at or near the top of the polls, it’s not unusual they are the higher ranked team.

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 19-20 record under since 1993.

Last season the Cavaliers spent time at #1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 and played only two games as the lower ranked squad with resounding success.

They gained a big early season win over #1 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome in early March and concluded the season with a 9-7 win over top-ranked Johns Hopkins in the national finals.

This is the first time Towson has been ranked higher than the Cavaliers for this match-up. It’s also the first time UVa has been unranked when facing the Tigers.

Turnovers Doom Cavaliers
One of the factors that contributed to UVa’s disappointing performance in Colorado late last month was a significant number of turnovers.

In the loss to Air Force the Cavaliers committed 35 turnovers, including many that were unforced. Several turnovers occurred in clearing situations as UVa was successful on just 20 of 35 attempts (.571), its worst clearing performance since a 1988 loss to North Carolina (.559).

Virginia had fewer turnovers in a loss to Denver the following day, but many were quick turnovers that prevented the Cavaliers from sustaining any offense. The Pioneers controlled the ball for most of the second quarter, outscoring UVa 3-1 to take a 5-2 halftime lead. Virginia had four turnovers on just 11 short possessions in the quarter. Late in the contest Virginia turned the ball over six times in 11 fourth quarter possessions and lost by two (9-7).

The Cavaliers turned the ball over 28 times vs. Syracuse two weeks ago, but the free-wheeling Orangemen reciprocated with 31 of their own.

Virginia had a season-low 10 turnovers in last week’s loss to Princeton (vs. 16 by the Tigers), but took an inordinate number of bad shots that could almost be classified as turnovers.

Virginia is averaging 21.2 turnovers per game this season.

Losing the Close Ones
Virginia has lost three of its games this season by a combined four goals. The three close losses are already more than the Cavaliers had during all of last year’s championship season. Virginia was 4-2 last spring in games decided by one or two goals, including a 9-7 win in the national title game vs. Johns Hopkins.

The last time the Cavaliers lost as many as three close games was 2001 when they were 1-3. UVa hasn’t lost four close games in a season since 1996 (2-4).

Under , the Cavaliers have had middling success in close games going 30-28 since 1993.

Midfield Play Important to Success
Virginia’s young midfield-the top nine features a freshman, six sophomores and two juniors-was outstanding in the season opening win over Drexel, combining for 10 of the team’s 15 goals, while adding an assist for good measure. Three of the four Cavaliers who scored two goals in the game were middies-Kyle Dixon, and Ted Lamade-and all three equalled their career high. Kenney scored only four times last season, while Lamade missed almost all of the last two seasons and hadn’t scored since 2001.

Their youth and relative inexperience perhaps caught up to them in the two losses out west. In a narrow 7-6 loss to Air Force, the middies failed to score, marking the first time since 1986 (vs. Navy) that Virginia failed to get any goals from the midfielders. In contrast, Air Force’s midfielders scored twice.

The midfield is averaging 4.2 goals per game this season, but only 2.8 in the last four contests.

Playing from Behind
Virginia has rarely had the lead during its current four-game losing streak, playing from behind for most of the time. In fact, the Cavaliers have trailed by more than 40 minutes in each of the last three games, including never having the lead against Denver. Virginia held the lead for a brief time against both Syracuse and Princeton before falling.

Last season Virginia had a lead of 40+ minutes in 12 of 17 games, including all four NCAA Tournament games and held the lead for less than 20 minutes only twice (both losses of the season), while having the lead for more than 35 minutes on 14 occasions.

Misfiring on Scoring Opportunities
Virginia has not been a good shooting team during this young season, connecting on just 23.2 percent of its shots. Last season the Cavaliers scored on 27.1 percent of their shots and were above 30 percent the year before.

In the season opening 15-4 win over Drexel, Virginia shot 32.6 percent (15×46), but has fallen off considerably during the four-game losing streak.

In their loss to Air Force three weeks ago the Cavaliers were successful 18.8 percent of the time (6×32), and dropped off even more the following afternoon against Denver by shooting 17.1 percent (7×41).

Virginia shot fairly well against Syracuse on March 6, making 12 of 40 shots (.300), but lost for the first time in almost two years when shooting at least 30 percent-a span of nine games going back to an ACC Tournament loss to Duke.

The subpar shooting returned last weekend in the 8-7 loss to Princeton as the Cavaliers shot a season-low 15.9 percent (7×44), the worst shooting since 2001 (vs. North Carolina, 15.6 percent).

The recent shooting slump has been typical of past losses for the Cavaliers. Both losses last season occurred when UVa failed to shoot better than 17 percent and dropped one-goal games to Johns Hopkins and Maryland during the regular season.In the Cavaliers’ win this season, they shot 32.6 percent (vs. Drexel), while in their four losses they are shooting 20.4 percent.

Since 2000 Virginia is 1-4 when shooting less than 20 percent and 25-5 when shooting better than 30 percent.

Defense Remains Stingy
While the Virginia offense has had some difficulty getting going this season, the defense-led by the play of goalie and defenseman Brett Hughes-has remained strong.

The Cavaliers are relinquishing an average of 9.20 goals per game. Other than a high-powered Syracuse team (18 goals), the Cavaliers have held their other four opponents to fewer than 10 goals.

Last season Virginia finished eighth nationally in scoring defense, allowing an average of 7.53 goals per game en route to winning the national championship. The scoring average is UVa’s lowest since the 1986 squad allowed an average of 7.20 goals per game.

Johnson Becomes UVa’s All-Time Saves Leader
Preseason Player of the Year set a school record with 205 saves last season in leading Virginia to the national championship. After recording a career-low three saves (he played just 30 minutes) in an NCAA Tourney first round win over Mount St. Mary’s, Johnson dominated the rest of the playoffs. He turned aside 16 shots in a quarterfinal win over Georgetown and electrified the record crowds at the final four with a career-high tying 18 saves against Maryland in the semis and 14 saves in the finals vs. Johns Hopkins.

The senior from Annapolis recently moved past Rodney Rullman to become UVa’s all-time career saves leader. He currently has 583 saves; Rullman stopped 553 shots during his career from 1972-75.

Ground Balls Key to Victory
One of the goals of the Virginia coaching staff every game is winning the ground ball battle. This season the Cavaliers are averaging 42.4 ground balls per game, down 6.0 per game from last season.

Virginia has been “out ground balled” three times this season (Air Force, Denver, Princeton) and lost all three games. Last week’s performance against Princeton was the Cavaliers’ worst in quite some time. They had just 27 ground balls and lost the battle by 20. The 20-GB differential is UVa’s biggest deficit since Princeton had a 57-34 margin in 2002, while the 27 total ground balls is UVa’s lowest based on available records dating back to 1970.

Last season Virginia was “out ground balled” only three times, but won all three.The Cavaliers have won 44 of their last 50 games dating back to 1998 when snapping up at least 50 ground balls.

Ward Following Up Stellar Rookie Campaign
Attackman was one of the nation’s top freshmen last season after scoring 26 goals and assisting on 20 others. He and Patrick Walsh from Notre Dame were the only “20-20” rookies in 2003.

During the early part of the season he is off to a fast start and leads the team in goals (12) and assists (9). His 21 points are nearly double the next player ( has 11 points) and tied for fifth in the nation.

His 12 goals are tied for eighth nationally, while his nine assists are tied for ninth.Ward has been UVa’s top goal scorer four times this season after leading just twice all last spring. He tallied two goals vs. Drexel and three against Air Force, Syracuse and Princeton. He has also led or shared the team lead in assists four times.

He has notched at least one goal in the last 11 games going back to last season, the longest streak on the team.

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