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March 3, 2006

Charlottesville, Va. –

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Game 5
#3 Virginia (4-0) vs. #5 Syracuse (1-0)
March 4, 2006 • 3 pm
Klöckner Stadium • Charlottesville, Va.

Game Overview
Head coach Dom Starsia coaches his 200th game at Virginia Saturday afternoon as his Cavaliers host Syracuse at Klöckner Stadium at 3 pm.

The third-ranked Cavaliers have gotten off to a good start this season and are undefeated with a 4-0 record. They are averaging 16.50 goals per game, while relinquishing just 5.50 per game.

The Cavaliers are also coming off a stretch that saw them play four games in 11 days to prepare for facing four ranked teams this month.

The gauntlet begins with this match-up vs. the Orange. Syracuse opened its season last Saturday with a 14-10 win over Army at the Carrier Dome.

Virginia won last year’s game 12-11 at the Dome and looks to win back-to-back games for the first time in 11 years.

The Series vs. Syracuse
Virginia and Syracuse have staged some of the most thrilling battles in college athletics throughout the last decade and a half, but the rivalry stretches back more than half a century. Syracuse won the first meeting 13-4 in 1938 and has won 11 of the 19 meetings all-time.

The two schools battled only three times between 1938-93, but have met at least once each season since 1994.

The titans began a regular season series in 1995 and have played every year since in what is one of the most anticipated games of the season by lacrosse fans everywhere.

Following a four-game Syracuse winning streak from 2000-2002, the teams have alternated wins since.

Virginia gained a tight 12-11 win last year in the Carrier Dome to become the first team to win back-to-back games there since it opened in 1981. Matt Poskay scored a game-high four goals and Kip Turner made a career-high 18 saves to lift the Cavaliers to the victory.

Both teams are known for their high-scoring offenses, but it is interesting to note that since 1999 Syracuse has scored at least 15 goals only three times (2002-03-04) and Virginia once (`03).

The Orange has won the last four meetings in Charlottesville. Virginia’s last win on its home field was 10 years ago. Curiously, the Cavaliers have won twice in Syracuse since then. Additionally, Syracuse has won all three games at Klöckner Stadium (3-0).

Tight Games Characterize Series
One of the reasons this matchup is so widely anticipated is the potential for a high-scoring game that is likely to go down to the wire.

Since 1996 a three-goal win can be considered a “blow out.” Nine of the 13 games since then have been decided by just one or two goals. Syracuse has won by six on two occasions (2001, 2004), by far the biggest win by either team in this span. Virginia’s biggest wins in the last 10 years are two-goal wins in 1996 and the 1999 national championship game.

UVa’s four wins since `96 have been by a total of six goals (1.5/g), while Syracuse’s nine wins have been by a total of 23 goals (2.56/g).

In the history of the series, the biggest win by either team is a 13-4 Syracuse win in 1938 in the first meeting between the two squads.

Virginia’s biggest win is a 15-7 victory in the Carrier Dome in 1995.Of the 19 total meetings, 11 have been decided by one or two goals.

Improved Shooting The Last Two
The Cavaliers did not do a very good job shooting the ball early in the season, particularly against Drexel and Denver, when they just sprayed the ball all over. Those two games were characterized more by quantity than quality.

In the season’s first game against Drexel, Virginia scored 15 goals on 61 percent, a 24.5 percent scoring rate. The following game two days later against Denver, the Cavaliers were even worse, shooting 22.4 percent (13 of 58).

Virginia’s fortunes have taken a turn for the better in the last two games. The Cavaliers scored on six of their first 10 shots last Saturday and buried Stony Brook 17-4. The opening flurry set the tone for the game as UVa connected on 17 of 53 shots (32.1 percent). The hot shooting continued vs. VMI in the most recent game as Virginia scored 21 times on 60 shots, a 35.0-percent rate.

It’s interesting to note that Virginia has scored on at least 30 percent of its shots in the last four regular-season match-ups with Syracuse.

When the Cavaliers shoot at least 30 percent they have had remarkable success recently. Last year Virginia won all eight games when topping the 30-percent mark. Overall UVa has 21 consecutive games when shooting at least 30 percent and is 54-4 (.931) since 1998.

Long Home Winning Streak
Last year’s national champion Johns Hopkins has gotten a lot of attention for its 37-game home winning streak, which is by far the longest streak in the nation. But the Cavaliers have quietly put together a 14-game home winning streak dating back to the 2004 season. Last season Virginia won all nine home games and continued to win at home this season with three consecutive victories.

Virginia can tie the school record for most consecutive home wins with a win over Syracuse Saturday afternoon. The Cavaliers also won 15 consecutive home games from 1994-96.

The Cavaliers’ winning streak ties Duke for the second-longest active streak in the country. The longest current streaks are listed below.

School, years                  Wins
1. Johns Hopkins, 2001-pres. 37
2. Virginia, 2004-pres. 14
Duke, 2004-pres. 14

Green Grass of Klöckner Bodes Well
After playing their first home game of the season at the UHall Turf Field, the Cavaliers moved to Klöckner Stadium and are playing their third straight home game there Saturday afternoon against Syracuse.

Virginia is riding an 11-game winning streak at Klöckner Stadium dating back to the 2004 season. Last year the Cavaliers were 7-0 at Klöckner, their best record ever there.

In an odd twist, Virginia is 0-3 against Syracuse at Klöckner. The Cavaliers’ last home win over the Orange is a 17-15 win at the UHall Turf Field in 1996.

Overall Virginia is 58-12 (.829) at Klöckner since moving there in 1993.

Rookies Billings, Glading Off to Fast Starts
Danny Glading was named the top recruit in the nation in the fall by Inside Lacrosse, while classmate Garrett Billings was listed as the “Canadian X-Factor.”

Glading had a stellar high school career at Georgetown Prep and finished his career as the school’s all-time assists leader with 156. As a senior last year he scored 55 goals and finished with 93 points and was named the Washington Post’s Player of the Year.

Billings is a relative newcomer to the field game, but is a prolific scorer indoors, where he starred for the Burnaby Lakers club that won the Minto Cup in 2004 and `05. Last year he won the scoring title with 52 goals and 52 assists and 104 points and was named to the first all-star team.

The pair has given an already potent offense an added kick so far this season.

Billings has scored 13 points (8g, 5a), tops among freshmen in the country. Overall, he is fourth in scoring. He notched two goals and added an assist in his debut vs. Drexel and scored twice vs. Denver in his second game. He has started the last two games in place of an injured Ben Rubeor and had an impact both times. In his first start he three times and had an assist, while against VMI earlier this week he had three assists and a goal.

Glading is the nation’s second-leading scorer among rookies (tied for fifth overall) with 12 points (5g, 7a), and the freshman leader with seven assists (tied for third overall). Glading opened his career with a 2-goal, 2-assist performance against Drexel. Against Denver in his second game he led the team with four assists.

They join a long line of freshmen who have made a mark on the Cavalier attack. Among the freshmen who have starred under head coach Dom Starsia include John Christmas, Conor Gill, Doug Knight, Drew McKnight, Rubeor, Matt Ward, Michael Watson, Tim Whiteley and Joe Yevoli.

Ward Joins Exclusive Century Goal Club
Senior attackman Matt Ward has earned his way onto a select list of Virginia’s all-time greats. He has led the Cavaliers in goals the last two seasons and has notched at least one in 43 of 49 games in his career.

He scored a trio of goals in the win over Denver last week to become only the ninth player in school history to score at least 100 in a career; he is tied for seventh with 106 goals. Ward is also fourth among active Division I players in goals.

His place on UVa’s career goals list is shown below. The number in parenthesis is each player’s standing on the ACC career goals list.

Player, years                  goals (ACC rank)
4. Chase Monroe, 1985-88 116 (18)
5. Jay Jalbert, 1997-2000 112 (19)
6. Tom Duquette, 1970-73 107 (T26)
7. Matt Ward, 2003-06 106 (T28)
Tucker Radebaugh, 1996-99 106 (T28)

Virginia Features Five of Nation’s Top-20 Scorers
Virginia’s offense is one of the top units in the country, led by returning starters on attack Matt Ward and Ben Rubeor. The offense also features standout freshmen Danny Glading and Garrett Billings on attack, as well as a top midfield group (Kyle Dixon, Matt Poskay and Drew Thompson) that is in its third year as starters.

Ward is currently the nation’s second-leading scorer with 16 points (4.00/g). He is being hotly pursued by Billings, who is fourth with 13 points, and Glading, who is tied for fifth with 12 points. Rubeor, the fourth cog on attack, is tied for eighth with 11 points despite missing the last two games.

Poskay is the leading scorer among midfielders with 10 points, tied for 11th overall. (His nine goals are also tops among middies.)

Dixon has caught fire the last two games and scored eight of his nine points in that time. He is tied for 15th in scoring, third in the country among midfielders.

Overall Virginia is third in scoring with an average of 16.5 goals per game.

Starsia is UVa’s All-Time Wins Leader
In his 14th year at the helm of the Virginia program, head coach Dom Starsia has guided his Cavalier squads to many outstanding achievements, including two national championships.

Starsia’s list of accomplishments grew a bit last season when he passed former head coach Jim “Ace” Adams for the most wins in program history. Starsia now has a 145-54 (.729) record at UVa.

In addition to setting the school record for most wins, Starsia is eighth all-time (as best we can tell) in coaching wins at the Division I level. (This list includes only time spent coaching at the DI level, which is why Dave Urick, Carl Runk and several others are not listed.)

He is also one of three coaches to win 100+ games at two different schools. In addition to his 143 UVa wins, he won 101 games at Brown from 1983-92. Jack Emmer won 100+ games at both Washington & Lee and Army, while Urick topped the century mark at Hobart and Georgetown.

The list of the winningest all-time Division I coaches is below.

Coach, school(s), years                         Wins
1. Jack Emmer, Cortland, W&L, Army, 1970-2005 326
2. Dick Garber, UMass, 1955-90 300
3. Roy Simmons, Jr., Syracuse, 1971-98 290
4. Jim Adams, Army, Penn, UVa, 1958-92 284
5. Glenn Thiel, UVa, Penn State, 1970-pres. 268
6. Richie Moran, Cornell, 1969-97 257
7. Roy Simmons, Sr., Syracuse, 1931-70 253
8. Dom Starsia, Brown, UVa, 1983-pres. 246

Four Cavaliers on Tewaaraton Watch List
Michael Culver, Kyle Dixon, Kip Turner 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.

Culver is considered one of the top close defensemen in the country. A preseason second-team All-American by Face-Off Yearbook, he is starting for the third year in a row. Last year he shut down some of the nation’s leading attackmen and was one of only two defensemen named All-ACC. He scooped up a career-high 40 ground balls, tied for fourth among ACC defensemen.

Dixon is one of the nation’s most outstanding midfielders. His tremendous size and athletic ability make him a factor on both ends of the field. He was named a preseason second-team All-American by Face-Off Yearbook this year. Last season he finished second among ACC midfielders with 33 points and 17 assists.

Turner was one of the key performers in the Cavaliers’ run to the final four last season. He ranked sixth nationally in goals allowed average (7.15/g) and 10th in save percentage (.592) and was a preseason honorable mention All-American by Face-Off Yearbook this season.

Ward, a preseason second-team All-American by Face-Off Yearbook, is a team captain for the year this season. He was an All-ACC choice for the second time last year after leading the team in goals (38) and points (49). He has scored eight goals this season to become the ninth player in school history to score 100 in a career; he has 106.

2006 Captains Named
Michael Culver, J.J. Morrissey and Matt Ward have been selected team captains for this season.

Culver, a senior defenseman from Ridgewood, N.J., enters his third season as a starter on close defense. Last season he was a third-team All-American and an All-ACC selection after shutting down some of the nation’s leading attackmen. He snared 40 ground balls, third among defensemen in the ACC.

Morrissey, a senior midfielder from Winchester, Mass., has been one of the team’s most underrated performers throughout his career. Primarily a short-stick defensive midfielder early in his career, he expanded his role on both ends of the field a year ago. He scored six goals and tallied seven assists for 13 total points. Morrissey was sixth in the ACC in ground balls with an average of 3.4 per game.

Ward, a senior attackman from Oakton, Va., is a captain for the second year in a row. He earned second-team All-American honors last spring after leading the team in goals (38) and points (49). He was 10th in the country in goals and has led the team the last two seasons. His 106 career goals are tied for seventh in UVa history.

Seven Receive Preseason All-American Nod
Seven Cavaliers have been named to the 2006 Face-Off Yearbook preseason All-American squad. A trio was named to the second-team–senior defenseman Michael Culver, senior midfielder Kyle Dixon and senior attack Matt Ward. Senior midfielder Matt Poskay, juniors defenseman Ricky Smith and goalie Kip Turner, and sophomore attack Ben Rubeor all received honorable mention recognition.

Culver is an aggressive shutdown defenseman who draws the opposition’s top attackman. He took over as the team’s stopper and had a tremendous year last spring, earning third-team All-American honors and was one of only two defensemen named All-ACC.

Dixon emerged as one of the nation’s top midfielders last year and was named a second-team All-American. He finished second among ACC midfielders with 33 points and 17 assists. His 16 goals tied for sixth among ACC middies.

Ward, a four-year starter, was the team’s offensive leader once again in `05. A powerful player who attacks the cage, he was the team leader in goals (38) and points (49), fifth with 11 assists. He finished third in the ACC and 10th nationally in goals (2.53/g) and sixth in the ACC in scoring (3.27 ppg).

Poskay was hobbled by a sore hamstring last season that limited him at practice but didn’t seem to affect him during games. His 29 goals last spring led ACC middies and tied for 10th all-time by a UVa midfielder. He led the team in goals on five occasions and scored at least three goals five times.

Smith is one of the rising stars on defense nationally. A first-time starter last season, he teams with Culver to give the Cavaliers two of the top defenders in the country. He started all 15 games last spring and snared a career-high 40 ground balls to tie for 18th in the ACC.

Turner was one of the key performers in the Cavaliers’ run to the final four last season. He recorded 137 saves last season, 12th most in school history by a first-time starter, while his .591 save percentage is third. Quick to the ball, he was sixth nationally in goals allowed average (7.15/g) and 10th in save percentage (.592).

Rubeor made an immediate impact in the line-up and was rated the #4 freshman last year by Inside Lacrosse. He led ACC freshmen with 16 assists and was second with 18 goals and 34 points. A terrific passer, he led the team in assists five times and placed sixth nationally among freshmen in assists and eighth in total points.

Starsia vs. Lower Ranked Opponents
Virginia comes into this game ranked third in the Face-Off Yearbook preseason coaches poll, while Syracuse is ranked fifth.

Since Dom Starsia took over the Virginia program in 1993, the Cavaliers have feasted upon lower or unranked opponents, winning 120 and losing only 27 (.816).

In home games, Starsia’s Cavaliers are an impressive 71-7 (.910) vs. lower/unranked opponents and have won 18 in a row.

Glazer Shines at Faceoff X
Senior faceoff midfielder Charlie Glazer has been the team’s leading faceoff specialist throughout the season. In fact, he leads the ACC in winning percentage (.708) and is second in ground balls (5.25/g).

He made the first starting assignment of his career in the first game against Drexel and played a big role in the Cavaliers’ 15-7 win over the Dragons.

The Greenwich, Conn., native won 11 of 15 attempts (.733), all career-high figures at the time. He also finished with four ground balls, the second-highest total of his career.

Glazer won five of seven draws in the first half to help UVa post a slim 5-4 lead at the break. Drexel tied the score early in the second half, but Glazer was spectacular winning five of six faceoffs as UVa scored eight unanswered goals that pushed the UVa lead to 13-5 at the end of the period. He won three straight faceoffs in a four-minute span that enabled the Cavaliers to maintain possession each time and score goals to extend the lead.

He had an even better performance in last Saturday’s win over Stony Brook, while going up against Jim Astea, who was 12th last year in winning percentage. Glazer won 12 of 14 attempts (.857) as Virginia built a big lead and went on to win 17-4. He also grabbed a career-high 10 ground balls to lead the team.

Seasoned First Midfield Returns
The first midfield unit of Kyle Dixon, Matt Poskay and Drew Thompson returns for a third year as starters this spring.

After a rough beginning as a unit in 2004, they gelled last season and played a key role in the team’s dash to the final four. Among them they combined to score 56 goals and 23 assists in one of the most potent offensive units under head coach Dom Starsia.

Dixon was second among ACC midfielders with 17 assists, while tying for sixth in goals among league middies, and was one of six ACC midfielders to reach double figures in both goals and assists. He earned second-team All-American honors and is a preseason second-team All-American by Face-Off Yearbook this year.

Poskay was a force in front and possesses an amazing knack for getting an open shot. He notched 29 goals last spring to lead ACC midfielders despite playing the season with a sore hamstring that severely limited his practice time. Poskay is a preseason honorable mention All-American by Face-Off Yearbook.

Thompson had a breakout year as a sophomore in `05 and is one of the most complete midfielders in the nation. He was playing at a very high level at the end of last season and looks to build upon last year’s momentum. He was 10th among ACC middies in goals and could be the team’s primary faceoff man this year.

Culver Anchors Close Defense
Senior All-American Michael Culver headlines an experienced close defense in front of goalie Kip Turner this season.

He was the team’s main stopper for the first time last spring and shut down some of the nation’s leading attackmen.

In the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, he was matched against Albany’s Merrick Thomson, the nation’s leading goal scorer, and completely shut him down. Thomson came into the game with 54 goals on just 97 shots and managed to take only one shot against Culver late in the third quarter. (Thomson got a second shot later in the game against the Cavalier reserves, but didn’t score.) Thomson also didn’t record an assist and was a non-factor in the game.

Some of the others who found the going tough against Culver, include Maryland’s Joe Walters, who scored one goal and had one assist in two games vs. Culver, Jed Prossner of North Carolina who scored one goal, Peter LeSueur of Johns Hopkins (1 goal), and Navy’s leading scorer Nick Mirabito (1 goal).

Ground Balls Key to Victory
One of the goals of the Virginia coaching staff every game is winning the ground ball battle.

Last season the Cavaliers were exceptional and averaged 44.8 ground balls per game, up seven from the year before, and almost six more than the opposition. They also won the ground ball war in 11 of 15 games.

This season Virginia is averaging 53.5 ground balls per game and have a ground ball margin of 17.0 per game.The Cavaliers have had the advantage in three games this season and have had at least 19 more in all three.

Overall, Virginia has 52 of its last 57 games (3-0 this year) dating back to 1998 when snapping up at least 50 ground balls.

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