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March 11, 2005

Charlottesville, Va. –

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Game 4
#3 Virginia vs. #8 Princeton
March 12, 2005 o 7 pm
Klöckner Stadium o Charlottesville, Va.

The Series vs. the Tigers
Given the slim margins that typically separate the winner from the loser in this series, perhaps it’s not surprising that only one game separates the two with Princeton holding a 10-9 advantage.

Although the first meeting occurred in 1948, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the two schools began to meet with regularity. The two teams had met only three times before beginning an annual series in 1992.

In addition to meeting during the regular season every year since 1992, the two teams have battled in the NCAA Tournament championship game twice (1994, `96) and in the semifinals once (2000).

The Tigers snapped UVa’s two-game winning streak with an 8-7 win last season in Charlottesville, their first win at UVa in 10 years. The one-goal win also continued a trend for them–winning all five one-goal games in the series. Since 1992, Virginia’s average margin of victory is 3.7 goals, while Princeton’s is 2.4.

Overall Virginia has won four of the last five in Charlottesville, while Princeton hasn’t won back-to-back games in the series since 2000-01.

Of Virginia’s last five wins over the Tigers going back to 1998, three have been by two goals.

Invincible Under the Klöckner Lights
The Cavaliers hope to continue a trend Saturday night against Princeton–keeping an undefeated streak alive at Klöckner Stadium. Since moving to Klöckner in 1993 the Cavaliers are 12-0 in night games there.

Johns Hopkins was the first to fall–14-9 on a cold Friday night in March 1996, the first of four night wins at Klöckner that season.From 1996-98 Virginia played seven night games there, but have played only five since. In 1999, 2001 and 2002 UVa didn’t play any night games at Klöckner.

Five victims have been ranked in the top 10, including two #1s (Maryland 1996, Johns Hopkins 2004).

Only three of the games have been decided by fewer than four goals, including two of the last three which have been one-goal overtime wins.

Virginia averages 16.4 goals per night game and have reached double figures in every game except last year’s 9-8 overtime win over top-ranked Johns Hopkins.

Cavaliers First to Win Back-to-Back in the Dome
Virginia got a big win last Saturday by downing defending national champion Syracuse 12-11 at the Carrier Dome. The win is UVa’s second in a row at the Dome; the Wahoos won 16-15 there two years ago. The Cavaliers are the first team to defeat Syracuse in back-to-back games at the Dome since the Orange began playing there 25 years ago.

Syracuse has lost just 15 games at the Dome and UVa has handed the Orange three of the losses (tied with Johns Hopkins for most wins there).

History Suggests a Tight Contest
This is the 17th meeting between Virginia and Princeton since the two began playing each other on an annual basis in 1992. They have also faced each other in the NCAA Tournament on three occasions (`94, `96, `00).

One of the most obvious characteristics of the series is how close the games have been. A game decided by more than three goals qualifies as a blow out.

Only four of the last 16 meetings have been decided by more than three goals. One goal has been the margin on five occasions (including three overtime decisions), while four more have been decided by two goals and three by three goals.

Princeton has had remarkable success vs. Virginia in tight games, winning all five 1-goal games, including an 8-7 decision last year.

The Cavaliers have won three of four games decided by two goals, including a 13-11 win three years ago in Charlottesville, and two of the three 3-goal games.

Cavaliers Hand Tigers Rare Losses
Since 1995 Princeton has lost just 27 games, including 21 regular season contests. Of those 27 losses, seven have come against Virginia. Princeton’s other losses have come to Syracuse (9), Johns Hopkins (5), Cornell (2), and Dartmouth, Navy, North Carolina and Yale (1 each).

The Tigers lost just once during their NCAA championship seasons in 1996 and 1998–both times to Virginia.

Of Princeton’s 21 regular season losses since 1995, seven have been to the Cavaliers. (Syracuse has just four regular season wins over Princeton in that span.)

Virginia’s 9-7 win over the Tigers in 1998 ended their 29-game winning streak.

Ward Runs Streak to Eight Straight
Matt Ward exploded for five goals (one off his career high) in the season opening win over Drexel. He has followed that with a 3-goal performance vs. Manhattan and two goals against Syracuse to run his multigoal streak to eight games dating back to last season. During his current hot streak he has scored 28 goals (of the team’s 98), which is 28.6 percent.

Ward’s eight-game streak of 2+ goals is the longest by a Cavalier since Doug Knight put together a ridiculous 14-game streak in 1996. During Knight’s streak he scored 55 of UVa’s 243 goals (22.6%).

Knight’s streak included an 8-goal game, three of 5 goals, four of 4 goals, four of 3 goals and two of 2 goals.

The junior from Oakton, Va., is third in the nation in goals (10) and 13th in total points (12).

Turner Stops 18 in Win over Syracuse
The two candidates to replace the graduated Tillman Johnson in goal–Kip Turner and Bud Petit–have been running even since the beginning of preseason drills. They split time in the cage during the three scrimmages and continued the pattern in the season’s first two games.

Turner started the Drexel game and played the opening 30 minutes, making three saves, while giving up two goals. Bud Petit went the whole way in the second half. He saved the first shot he faced and finished with three saves and allowed five goals.

The roles were reversed the next game against Manhattan. Petit got the start and finished with three saves in 30 scoreless first half minutes. Turner took over after halftime and stopped four shots, while allowing just two goals.

Turner got the nod and turned in a phenomenal performance to key the win over Syracuse last week. He made 18 saves and allowed just 11 goals, the fewest the Orange has scored vs. UVa in the Dome in 10 years. The game featured five ties and four lead changes and Turner was a standout when it mattered most. He made nine saves in the second half, including six in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers came from behind in the final 12 minutes to win.

For the season, Turner has a .625 save percentage and allows an average of 7.76 goals per game. Petit has a 5.00 GAA and a .545 save percentage.

First Midfield Much Improved in `05
The first midfield unit of Kyle Dixon, Matt Poskay and Drew Thompson is in its second year of playing together. Last spring they had difficulty being consistent throughout the season. This season is a whole different story, however, as the first group has been one of the key components to the Cavaliers’ 3-0 start.

In the opener vs. Drexel they had the best effort ever as a unit. Together they combined for seven goals and three assists in the Cavaliers’ 16-7 win. This is in contrast to their best effort last year of four goals and two assists on two occasions. Poskay scored four times, while Thompson netted a pair as both players established career highs against the Dragons. Dixon tallied a career-high three assists. Poskay’s four goals are the most by a Cavalier middie since A.J. Shannon scored four against Johns Hopkins in the 2003 national championship game.

They put together another strong effort vs. Manhattan, combining for four goals and four assists in an 18-2 win. Dixon led the scoring parade with a goal and tied his career high with three assists. Thompson also equaled his career high with two goals and an assist, while Poskay scored once.

Poskay was high man in the 12-11 upset of Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last week with four goals. Dixon had a goal and an assist, while Thompson tallied one assist.

Dixon is currently tied for fourth in the country with six assists and tied for 20th with 10 points. Poskay is tied for sixth with nine goals.

Christmas in March
Senior attackman John Christmas was one of the nation’s most exciting players during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He scored 29 goals and 44 points in 2002 to earn National Rookie of the Year honors by Inside Lacrosse. As a sophomore he notched 36 goals and 48 points in helping guide UVa to the national championship.

Last season he struggled throughout the year, resulting in a drop off in production to 11 goals and 10 assists.

If the first two games of this season are any indication, he’s back to his old self. He didn’t play in the opener due to a team related matter, but scored three times vs. Manhattan. He had his second hat trick in a row against Syracuse, his first back-to-back hat tricks since late in 2003. He’s never had a three-game streak with 3+ goals.

His six goals rank third on the team, while his eight total points are tied for third.

He is also shooting 40.0 percent (6×15), a marked improvement over last season (17.2).

Improved Shooting Leads to Win
The Cavaliers have done a much better job of shooting this season in gaining wins over Drexel, Manhattan and Syracuse than they ever did last season.

In the 16-7 win over Drexel in the opener, UVa scored on 35.6 percent of its shots (16×45). That is the team’s best performance since a 2003 NCAA Tournament match-up against Mount St. Mary’s, when they connected on 38.8 percent of their shots (19×49).

They found the back of the net 34 percent of the time (18×53) against Manhattan, marking the first time since 2003 they hit at least 30 percent in back-to-back games.

The team ran the good shooting streak to three games for the first time in three years following last week’s win over Syracuse when they scored 12 times on just 38 shots (.316).

The last time UVa had a longer streak was a 5-game run that culminated in the national championship in 1999.

When the Cavaliers shoot at least 30 percent they have had remarkable success recently. Last year they were only 5-8 overall, but had a 2-1 record when shooting 30 percent or better. Since 2000 Virginia is 29-5 (.853) when shooting 30+ percent.

Ward Joins Century Club
Junior attackman Matt Ward tallied four points (3g, 1a) vs. Manhattan to become the 36th Cavalier to register at least 100 points in a career; he now has 104.

Along with active Cavaliers John Christmas and Joe Yevoli, Ward’s entrance in this exclusive club marks the first time since 2000 that the roster features three 100-point scorers (Conor Gill, Jay Jalbert and Drew McKnight).

Ward began the season with 92 points and has erupted for 12 more in just three games. He has scored 69 goals and added 35 assists in two years plus three games.

Ward is currently tied for 33rd on UVa’s career points list. The players immediately ahead of him are below.

    Player, years             points30. Rob Falk, 1990-93           11131. Andy Kraus, 1987-89, `91    10732. Greg Traynor, 1992-95       10633. Matt Ward, 2003-pres.       104    Henry Peterson, 1959-61     104

Offense Improved Over Last Year
One of the most surprising aspects of last season (besides the team’s losing record) was UVa’s inability to generate much offense. The Cavaliers averaged 9.2 goals per game, their lowest since 1967 (8.8) and almost three fewer than they averaged during the 2003 national championship season.

The 2005 season is young and the competition has gotten more difficult recently, but the offense has improved on last year. The Cavaliers are third in the nation in offense, averaging 15.33 goals per game. They opened with 16 goals vs. Drexel, tallied 18 times against Manhattan and notched 12 vs. Syracuse. In comparison, last year’s high mark was a 15-goal performance against Drexel as the Cavaliers scored at least 10 goals just five times all season.

Virginia hasn’t reached double digits in four consecutive games since a 9-game run two years ago.

Bateman Shines in UVa Debut
Preseason All-American Rob Bateman didn’t seem to let a year’s layoff slow him down against Drexel in the season’s first game. The Penn State graduate sat out last season with an injury and transferred to UVa to use his final year of eligibility. Showing a remarkable ability to run the field, he led a fast break and fed Matt Ward for a fourth quarter goal. He also made several big strips on the defensive end and shared the team lead with seven ground balls.

He is second among the team’s long sticks with 10 ground balls this season.

Three Cavaliers on Tewaaraton Watch List
Rob Bateman, John Christmas and Matt Ward have been named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List announced by the Tewaaraton Award Foundation. The Tewaaraton Award is given annually to the nation’s top player.

Bateman is considered one of the top longstick midfielders in the country. A preseason second-team All-American by Face-Off Yearbook, he is using his final season of eligibility at UVa in 2005. He graduated from Penn State 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 both years.

Christmas has been one of the nation’s most dynamic players throughout his career. He scored 11 goals and added 10 assists last season to rank third on the team. He entered this season fourth among active ACC players in both goals (76) and points (113).

Ward earned preseason second-team All-American honors by Face-Off Yearbook this season. He was named a third-team All-American last season after 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 on June 2 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Eight Named Preseason All-American
Eight Cavaliers have been named to the 2005 Face-Off Yearbook preseason All-American squad. Two were named to the second-team–senior longstick midfielder Rob Bateman and junior attackman Matt Ward. Senior attackmen John Christmas and Joe Yevoli, junior defensemen Michael Culver and Steve Holmes, senior faceoff specialist Jack deVilliers and junior midfielder Kyle Dixon received honorable mention recognition.

Bateman transferred from Penn State, where he received his undergraduate degree after redshirting last season. He is playing as a graduate student this season. He was a two-time All-American at Penn State and helped lead the Nittany Lions to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2003.

Ward scored 59 goals in his first two years to become just the seventh player in school history to score at least 50 goals as a sophomore. Overall he has scored at least once in 28 of 33 career games.

The ever dangerous Christmas is one of the nation’s quickest attackmen, and always draws the opposition’s top defenseman. His numbers were down a bit last season with 11 goals and 10 assists, and a return to his past level of play will go a long way toward propelling UVa back into the national championship picture. Yevoli hasn’t practiced yet this spring due to an injury and his status for this season is undetermined.

Culver and Holmes are underrated performers who have been overshadowed on the Cavalier defense by Brett Hughes and Tillman Johnson in the past. They are both athletic and aggressive and were among the leading ACC defensemen in ground balls a year ago.

deVilliers is listed among the nation’s top faceoff men and ranks second in the UVa record book behind Jason Hard in both wins (476) and attempts (895). He finished last year on a high note, winning at least 50 percent in five of the last six games.

Dixon had an outstanding fall season and should be ready to step up his production. He was one of four ACC midfielders to reach double figures in goals (10) and assists (11).

Captains Named for 2005
Senior faceoff midfielder Jack deVilliers, junior defenseman Steve Holmes, senior midfielder Joe Thompson and junior 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 history with 476 wins and 895 attempts. deVilliers has led the team in ground balls the last two years, the first Cavalier to do 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 if needed. Last season he started the final 12 games and led the team’s longsticks with 45 ground balls, third among ACC longsticks.

Thompson returns after two years away from the program. He was not in school last season and served as the head assistant coach at nearby Woodberry Forest school. An emotional leader, he scored three goals in four appearances in 2002.

Ward led the team in goals (33), assists (13) and total points (46) last year, the first player to lead the team in all three categories since 1999. A powerful attackman, he earned preseason second-team All-American honors from Face-Off Yearbook this year.

Conor Gill Moves Into Full-time Coaching Position
Former UVa standout Conor Gill has moved into a full-time position on Dom Starsia’s staff, replacing David 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 program since. He served as a volunteer assistant last season. His brother, Brendan, is a senior attackman this year, while another younger brother, Gavin, has signed to play at UVa next season.

One of the greatest players in school history, Gill was a three-time All-American during his career and helped guide the Cavaliers to three final four appearances.

He was the first freshman selected Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championships in 1999 after leading the 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 Johns Hopkins in the semifinals. In the finals, against Syracuse, he tallied two goals and assisted on UVa’s final goal as the 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 ACC Rookie of the Year in 1999 and Most Valuable Player of the 2000 ACC Tournament.

Voted one of the 50 greatest players in Atlantic Coast Conference history, he finished tied for second in assists (146) and seventh in career points (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 a career.

He has played with the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse the last three seasons. Last year he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player 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’s Rookie of the Year that season.

Bateman Transfers to UVa
The Cavalier defense gained a boost during the offseason when former Penn State All-American LSM Rob Bateman decided to use his final year of eligibility in Charlottesville.

He redshirted last season and, after receiving his degree in real estate from Penn State last spring, made the move south.

With an uncanny knack for disrupting an offense, he earned second-team All-American honors two years ago while guiding the Nittany Lions to their first NCAA Tournament appearance ever. That season he had 90 ground balls, fifth in the country.

For UVa head coach Dom Starsia, it was “if you can’t beat `em, join `em,” as Bateman had several terrific performances against the Cavaliers. In 2003 he snared 10 ground balls in a narrow 11-10 UVa win. As a sophomore in 2002, he scored two goals and had an assist 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, he averaged 5.9 GBs per game coming into this season.

Ward First Since `99
Junior attackman Matt Ward earned third-team All-American accolades last season after leading the team in goals (33), assists (13) and points (46). By leading in all three categories he became the first player to be the team’s leader in each since Tucker Radebaugh in 1999.

He has scored 69 career goals, and was one of seven players in school history with at least 50 through his sophomore year.

Ward has scored at least one goal in 28 of 33 career games. He notched five goals against Drexel to become the 40th Cavalier to score 60 in a career.

He surpassed the 100-point mark vs. Manhattan and is tied for 33rd in school history with Punchy Peterson with 104 points.

Steady Gill Gets Second Start
Senior Brendan Gill hasn’t gotten a whole lot of playing time in his career, but he has used his experience and keen sense of the game to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Praised for his consistency by the coaching staff, he has served as the fourth attackman throughout his career. This season he has seen extensive action in all three games.

After Ben Rubeor injured his ankle early last week against Syracuse, Gill entered the game. He contributed a goal midway through the second quarter and assisted on John Christmas’ goal with 3:03 remaining in the game that proved to be the difference. Gill’s 1-and-1 performance was his second in a row.

Gill’s career-high three assists are tied for third on the team and tops on the attack. He has also scored two goals, just one less than his career total entering the season.

He is expected to start Saturday vs. Princeton, the second start of his career. He also started the opener against Drexel.

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