Virginia Takes On Drexel Saturday at 1pm
Feb. 19, 2005
#8 Virginia vs. Drexel
Feb. 20, 2005 1 pm
UHall Turf Field Charlottesville, Va.
The Series vs. the Dragons
Virginia has won all four previous meetings against Drexel, includingwins in the season opener the last three seasons.
The Cavaliers gained a 15-4 win last year at the Haverford School onthe strength of remarkably balanced scoring–11 different players notchedgoals. Curiously only five players who scored that day are expected to play in this year’s contest. Matt Ward led four Cavaliers with two goals that day.
Virginia has used big runs to seize control the last two years and especiallyin 2003. Last season the Cavaliers bolted to a 4-0 lead before theDragons managed to score and took an 11-1 lead into the fourth quarter.
The game two years ago–the most recent meeting in Charlottesville–was tight for most of the first 45 minutes, but UVa scored six unansweredgoals in the fourth quarter to gain the 19-8 win.
The ground ball totals have been close recently, but the Cavaliers havehad big advantages in the shooting totals. In 2002 UVa outshot theDragons 63-15, in 2003 63-29 and last year 46-29.
Virginia’s 20-5 win in 2002 was the first meeting in more than 50 years.The first meeting of the two schools occurred in 1947, Virginia’s first seasonfollowing World War II. The Cavaliers eked out a 7-2 victory in Philadelphia.Barry Robertson was high man for Virginia with four goals, while goalie BobCatzen registered 12 saves. Curiously Catzen’s 12 saves that afternoon stillstand as the most by a Cavalier goalie in the series.
Virginia had at least one player score four goals in the first three meetingsuntil last year’s balanced attack broke the string. Overall, eightCavaliers have scored at least three goals in a game vs. the Dragons.
Several Cavaliers Make Collegiate Debut vs. Drexel
Many of Virginia’s top players began their collegiate careers againstDrexel, perhaps a result that UVa opened the last three years against theDragons.
Two of the most heralded players in recent times got off to quick startsin their collegiate debuts. Joe Yevoli and John Christmas each had biggames in UVa’s 20-5 win three years ago. Yevoli scored four times and hadan assist, while Christmas scored on the first shot of his career and finishedwith three goals. Faceoff specialist Jack deVilliers won 62 percent of hisattempts (8×13) in the game and finished with nine ground balls. Seniormidfielder Joe Thompson also made his debut in that game and scoredtwice.
Goalie Kip Turner saw six minutes of time in his only appearance as afreshman last season and made two saves (allowed no goals) vs. theDragons in UVa’s 15-4 win.
Three Cavaliers on Tewaaraton Watchlist
Rob Bateman, John Christmas and Matt Ward have been named to theTewaaraton Award Watchlist announced by the Tewaaraton AwardFoundation. The Tewaaraton Award is given annually to the nation’s topplayer.
Bateman is considered one of the top longstick midfielders in the country.A preseason second-team All-American by Face-Off Yearbook, he isusing his final season of eligibility at UVa in 2005. He graduated from PennState last spring and redshirted the season due to an injury. He earned All-American honors in 2002 and 2003 and led the ECAC in ground balls bothyears.
Christmas has been one of the nation’s most dynamic players throughouthis career. He scored 11 goals and added 10 assists last season torank third on the team. He enters this season fourth among active ACCplayers in both goals (76) and points (113).
Ward earned preseason second-team All-American honors by Face-OffYearbook this season. He was named a third-team All-American last seasonafter leading the team in goals (33), assists (13) and points (46),becoming the first player since 1999 to lead the team in those three categories.
The Tewaaraton Trophy will be presented at the annual banquet onJune 2 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington,D.C.
Eight Receive Preseason All-American Recognition
Eight Cavaliers have been named to the 2005 Face-Off Yearbook preseasonAll-American squad. Two were named to the second-team–seniorlongstick midfielder Rob Bateman and junior attack Matt Ward. Seniorattackmen John Christmas and Joe Yevoli, junior defensemen MichaelCulver and Steve Holmes, senior faceoff specialist Jack deVilliers and juniormidfielder Kyle Dixon received honorable mention recognition.
Bateman transferred from Penn State, where he received his undergraduatedegree after redshirting last season. He is playing as a graduatestudent this season. He was a two-time All-American at Penn State andhelped lead the Nittany Lions to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in2003.
Ward scored 59 goals in his first two years to become just the seventhplayer in school history to score at least 50 goals as a sophomore. Overallhe has scored at least once in 25 of 30 career games.
The ever dangerous Christmas is one of the nation’s quickest attackmen,and always draws the opposition’s top defenseman. His numberswere down a bit last season with 11 goals and 10 assists, and a return tohis past level of play will go a long way toward propelling UVa back into thenational championship picture. Yevoli hasn’t practiced yet this spring dueto an injury and his status for this season is undetermined.
Culver and Holmes are underrated performers who have been overshadowedon the Cavalier defense by Brett Hughes and Tillman Johnson inthe past. They are both athletic and aggressive and were among the leadingACC defensemen in ground balls a year ago.
deVilliers is listed among the nation’s top faceoff men and ranks secondin the UVa record book behind Jason Hard in both wins (437) andattempts (828). He finished last year on a high note, winning at least 50percent in five of the last six games.
Dixon had an outstanding fall season and should be ready to step uphis production. He was one of four ACC midfielders to reach double figuresin goals (10) and assists (11).
Virginia in Season Openers
The Cavaliers open their 72nd season of play Sunday with a match-upagainst Drexel. This is the four year in a row they have opened vs. theDragons.
Virginia is 39-31-1 (.556) all-time in season openers. When the seasonopener is at home, the Cavaliers have compiled a 23-15-1 (.603) record throughout the years.
This is the fifth time in the last six years the Cavaliers have opened at home. Last year’s 15-4 win over Drexel isthe only time during this span the Cavaliers haven’t opened at home.
Virginia in the Preseason Polls
The Cavaliers are ranked eighth in the Face-off Yearbook coaches preseason poll and sixth in Lacrosse magazine’spreseason poll.
Virginia’s schedule is ranked second toughest in the nation by Face-off Yearbook behind Johns Hopkins. UVafaces five of the nine other teams in Face-off’s top 10 poll and eight teams overall ranked in the top 25.
Captains Named for 2005
Senior faceoff midfielder Jack deVilliers, junior defenseman Steve Holmes, senior midfielder Joe Thompson andjunior attackman Matt Ward have been named team captains this season.
deVilliers enters his fourth season as the team’s primary faceoff specialist. A preseason honorable mention All-American by Face-Off Yearbook, he is among the top performers in school history. He is second in school historywith 437 wins and 828 attempts. deVilliers has led the team in ground balls the last two years, the first Cavalier todo so since David Jenkins led from 1999-2001.
Holmes returns as a starter on close defense. A very athletic player, he can also play longstick midfielder ifneeded. Last season he started the final 12 games and led the team’s longsticks with 45 ground balls, third amongACC longsticks.
Thompson returns after two years away from the program. He was not in school last season and served as thehead assistant coach at nearby Woodberry Forest school. An emotional leader, he scored three goals in his fourappearances in 2002.
Ward led the team in goals (33), assists (13) and total points (46) last year, the first player to lead the team inall three categories since 1999. A powerful attackman, he earned preseason second-team All-American honorsfrom Face-Off Yearbook this year.
Conor Gill Moves Into Full-time Coaching Position
Former UVa standout Conor Gill has moved into the second assistant’s position on Dom Starsia’s staff, replacingDavid Curry, who resigned following last season to pursue other interests.
Gill graduated from UVa in 2002 with a degree in sociology and has remained close to the Cavalier programsince. He served as a volunteer assistant on Starsia’s staff last season. His younger brother, Brendan, is a seniorattackman this year.
One of the greatest players in school history, Gill was a three-time All-American during his career and helpedguide the Cavaliers to three final four appearances.
He was the first freshman selected Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championships in 1999 after leadingthe Cavaliers to their first national title in 27 years. In one of the most amazing performances in tournament history,Gill scored a career-high five goals–all in a span of 3:08 in the first quarter–to lead UVa to 16-11 win over JohnsHopkins in the semifinals. In the finals, against Syracuse, he tallied two goals and assisted on UVa’s final goal asthe Cavaliers claimed the championship with a 12-10 victory.
Gill was a three-time All-ACC selection and a two-time All-ACC Tournament selection. He was named ACCRookie of the Year in 1999 and Most Valuable Player of the 2000 ACCTournament.
Named one of the 50 greatest players in Atlantic Coast Conference history,he finished tied for second in assists (146) and seventh in careerpoints (223) in league history.
A native of Lutherville, Md., Gill was a prep lacrosse standout at St.Paul’s School, where he set school records for points in a season and acareer.
He has played with the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse thelast three seasons. Last year he was named the league’s Most ValuablePlayer after leading the league in points (67) and assists (record-tying 40).The second player picked in the 2002 draft, he was named the league’sRookie of the Year that season.
Starsia vs. Lower Ranked Opponents
Virginia comes into this game ranked eighth in the Face-Off Yearbookcoaches’ preseason poll, while Drexel is unranked.
Since Dom Starsia took over the Virginia program in 1993, theCavaliers have feasted upon lower or unranked opponents, winning 107and losing only 26 (.805).
In home games, Starsia’s Cavaliers are an impressive 59-7 (.894) vs.lower/unranked opponents. The Cavaliers haven’t lost to an unranked divisionI team at home since at least 1969.
Competive Battle for Goalie Spot
One of the leading questions regarding the Cavaliers this season is thebattle to succeed the graduated Tillman Johnson in goal. Sophomore KipTurner and redshirt freshman Bud Petit are currently running neck and neckfor the starting nod and it’s likely they will each play a half in the first fewgames of the season.
Turner started the Navy scrimmage, while Petit got the nod againstboth Washington & Lee and Georgetown. In all scrimmages they eachplayed a half and did well.
Turner played in one game last spring–a six-minute stint in the openeragainst Drexel–while Petit redshirted after coming in with an ankle injury.
Yevoli’s Status Uncertain
Senior attackman Joe Yevoli has not taken part in any team drills sincethe end of last season due to a lingering injury. He missed fall ball and hasn’tpracticed yet this spring. His status is undetermined at this time and itwould not be unexpected that he redshirt this season as a result.His loss causes a hit to the attack. He has scored 82 goals and added48 assists in his career
Bateman Transfers to UVa
The Cavalier defense gained a boost during theoffseason when former Penn State All-American LSMRob Bateman decided to use his final year of eligibilityin Charlottesville.
He redshirted last season and, after receiving hisdegree in real estate from Penn State last spring, madethe move south.
With an uncanny knack for disrupting an offense,he earned second-team All-American honors two yearsago while guiding the Nittany Lions to their first NCAATournament appearance ever. That season he had 90ground balls, fifth in the country.
For UVa head coach Dom Starsia, it was “if youcan’t beat `em, join `em,” as Bateman had several terrificperformances against the Cavaliers. In 2003 hesnared 10 ground balls in a narrow 11-10 UVa win. Asa sophmore in 2002, he scored two goals and had anassist in the Nittany Lions’ 13-8 win over the Cavaliers.He also had nine GBs in that game.
One of the nation’s leading ground ball men, hehas averaged 5.9 GBs per game in his career.
deVilliers Closes in on Records
Senior captain Jack deVilliers returns for his fourthseason as the team’s leading faceoff specialist. He wasnamed an honorable mention preseason All-Americanby Face-Off Yearbook and a return to his form of twoyears ago will be a key element in the Cavaliers’attempt to return to the national playoffs.
During UVa’s national championship season in2003 he won nearly 60 percent of his attempts. Hissuccess rate fell to 49 percent last spring, but heclosed the year on a high note by winning at least 50percent in five of the last six contests.
He is one of the leading faceoff specialists inschool history and is closing in on Jason Hard’s schoolrecords for most wins and attempts in a career.Hard took 949 draws in his career and won 539.deVilliers has been in on 828 faceoffs, winning 437.
Rubeor Gains Staring Nod
With Joe Yevoli out so far with an injury, freshmanBen Rubeor has moved into the starting lineup onattack and played like a seasoned veteran during theteam’s preseason scrimmages.
He scored the game winner in the waningmoments of a fall ball scrimmage against national runner-up Navy in Virginia Beach in October.
During UVa’s three scrimmages earlier this monthhe was the team’s leading scorer with eight goals andtwo assists.
He joins a long line of freshmen who have made amark on the Cavalier attack. Among the freshmen whohave starred under head coach Dom Starsia includeseniors John Christmas and Joe Yevoli, junior MattWard, current assistant coach and MLL MVP ConorGill, and All-Americans Doug Knight, Drew McKnight,Michael Watson and Tim Whiteley.
With the UVa attack not producing as expected lastseason, the midfield unit was forced to fill the void,often with uneven results. With the year of experience,they should be much more productive this spring.
Dixon was named honorable mention preseason
All-American by Face-Off Yearbook and was one offour ACC midfielders to reach double figures in goals(10) and assists (11) last year.
Poskay has an uncanny ability to find seams in thedefense which leads to good scoring chances accordingto head coach Dom Starsia. He found the back ofthe net 11 times last season, tops among the team’smiddies.
Thompson was one of the ACC’s leading freshmenlast year despite playing much of the season with aknee injury that required offseason surgery. He didn’tpractice in the fall, but was a full go when preseasondrills commenced last month. He was coming on at theend of the season last year before being shelved dueto the injury.
Ward First Since `99
Junior attackman Matt Ward earned third-team All-American accolades last season after leading the teamin goals (33), assists (13) and points (46). By leading inall three categories he became the first player to be theteam’s leader in each since Tucker Radebaugh in1999.
He has scored 59 career goals, one of seven playersin school history with at least 50 through his sophomoreyear, while his 92 points are tied for sixth by aUVa sophomore.
Ward has scored at least one goal in 25 of 30career games and needs one goal to become the 40thCavalier with 60 in a career. He also need just eightpoints to become the 36th player to reach the centurymark.