Men's Lacrosse Travels North to Face #5 Princeton in Battle of Two Hot Clubs
March 10, 2006
Charlottesville, Va. –
#2 Virginia at #5 Princeton
March 12, 2006 2 pm
Princeton Stadium Princeton, N.J.
Television: Sunday’s game is being televised by ESPNU. Dave Ryan calls the play-by-play, while Quint Kessenich provides the color commentary. Please check with your local cable provider to see if it offers ESPNU.
Fans can listen to the Princeton radio webcast on the official Princeton athletics site goprincetontigers.com. Click here to listen. Ed Benkin calls the action.
Second-ranked Virginia travels north to face the fifth-ranked Princeton Tigers Sunday at 2 pm. The game is being televised nationally by ESPNU.Both teams come into the game on a roll following big victories last weekend, albeit in radically different fashion. The Cavaliers won a 20-15 shootout against Syracuse, while the Tigers ended Johns Hopkins’ 37-game home winning streak with a 6-4 triumph over the Blue Jays at Homewood.
Virginia is 5-0 this season and comes into this game vs. Princeton undefeated for the third time in the last four years. The Tigers have rebounded from last season’s 5-7 record and are also undefeated at 2-0. Curiously, this is the first time in 10 years both teams come into this game undefeated.
The Cavaliers have not had much success recently playing away from home, losing four of their last five games outside Charlottesville (including neutral site contests).
The Series vs. Princeton
Given the slim margins that typically separate the winner from the loser in this series, perhaps it’s not surprising that the all-time series is tied at 10 wins apiece.
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 that has continued to this day.
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).
Virginia has won three of the last four match-ups, including a 10-7 win in 2003 in the most recent game in Princeton. The Cavaliers gained an 11-7 win last year in Charlottesville.
Princeton’s last win was an 8-7 victory in Charlottesville two years ago. The Tigers’ one-goal win in that game continued a trend for them; they have won all five one-goal games in the series. Since 1992, Virginia’s average margin of victory is 3.75 goals, while Princeton’s is 2.20.
Overall Virginia has won two of the last three in Princeton and looks to win consecutive games on the Tigers’ home field for the first time ever.Of Virginia’s last six wins over the Tigers going back to 1998, three have been by two goals, one by three and another by four.
History Suggests a Tight Contest
This is the 15th regular-season 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 prominent 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 five of the last 17 meetings have been decided by more than three goals, including last year’s 11-7 Virginia win. 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 one-goal games.
The Cavaliers have won three of four games decided by two goals and two of the three three-goal games.
Cavaliers Hand Tigers Rare Losses
Since 1995 Princeton has lost just 34 games, including 28 regular season contests. Of those 34 losses, eight have come against Virginia. Princeton’s other losses have come to Syracuse (10), Johns Hopkins (6), Cornell (3), Yale (2), and Dartmouth, Hofstra, Navy, North Carolina and Rutgers (1 each).
The Tigers lost just once during their NCAA championship seasons in 1996 and 1998–both times to Virginia.
Of Princeton’s 28 regular season losses since 1995, eight have been to the Cavaliers. (Syracuse has just five regular season wins over Princeton in that span.) UVa’s 9-7 win over the Tigers in 1998 ended their 29-game winning streak.
Improved Shooting The Last Three
The Cavaliers did not do a very good job shooting the ball in the first few games of 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.
Virginia’s fortunes have taken a turn for the better since then, however. The Cavaliers scored on six of their first 10 shots to bury 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 next game as Virginia scored 21 times on 60 shots, a 35.0-percent rate.
The torrid shooting was one of the factors that enabled Virginia to defeat Syracuse 20-15 last week. In the second quarter the Cavaliers outshot the Orange 16-3 to outscore them 8-1 and blow the game open.
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 won 22 consecutive games when shooting at least 30 percent and is 56-4 (.933) since 1998.
Not What You’d Expect
Dom Starsia’s Cavaliers have a reputation as an explosive offensive squad and have led the nation in scoring twice since 1997 (and lead again this season). Princeton, on the other hand, favors taking a more methodical approach to offense and relying on a strong defense to slow the opponent.
Given the differing philosophies between the two teams, you might assume the Cavaliers would want to get into a fast-paced offensive game, while the Tigers would rather slow the pace.
However, you should remember what your mother said about assuming things because in this rivalry it’s not good to assume. The recent history of the series indicates that the Cavaliers fare better against Princeton in a low-scoring affair.
The 2002 game in Charlottesville (a 13-11 UVa win) is the only time in the history of the series Princeton has lost when scoring at least 10 goals (6-1). The complete game-by-game results are to the right.
That game is also unusual because both teams reached double digits, something that’s happened only five times in the 20 games between the two; there have been six occasions when neither team reached double figures.
Virginia’s 6-4 win in 1999 is the only time since 1973 Virginia has won a game with as few as six goals.
Last season’s 11-7 Virginia win was just about the average in those situations since 1993.
The chart below shows the average score in this series since 1993 when UVa wins and loses.
UVa avg. PU avg.
8 UVa wins 10.9 7.1
8 UVa losses 8.4 10.9
Billings, Glading Off to Fast Starts
Danny Glading was named the top recruit in the nation by Inside Lacrosse in the fall, while classmate Garrett Billings was considered the magazine’s “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 this season.Billings is the team’s third-leading scorer with 15 points (10g, 5a). He notched two goals and added an assist in his debut vs. Drexel and scored twice vs. Denver in his second game. He made his first start against Stony Brook in place of an injured Ben Rubeor and finished with three goals and an assist. He scored twice last week vs. Syracuse and has scored at least once in every game.
The Canadian leads all freshmen in the nation in goals and total points, while ranking ninth overall in goals.
Glading is hot on the heels of Billings among the most productive freshmen so far. He has recorded 14 points (6g, 8a) and is tied for 12th in the country in total points and second among rookies. An excellent feeder, his eight assists are the most by a freshman. 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 Christmas, Conor Gill, Doug Knight, Drew McKnight, Rubeor, Ward, Michael Watson, Tim Whiteley and Joe Yevoli.
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 146-54 (.730) 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 146 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. 247
Starsia vs. Lower Ranked Opponents
Virginia comes into this game ranked second in this week’s USILA poll, while Princeton is ranked fifth.
Since Dom Starsia took over the Virginia program in 1993, the Cavaliers have feasted upon lower or unranked opponents, winning 121 and losing only 27 (.818).
In road games, Starsia’s Cavaliers are an impressive 33-15 (.688) vs. lower/unranked opponents.
Underrated Morrissey Contributes All Over
Last season Inside Lacrosse magazine called short-stick defensive midfielder the “most important position in lacrosse” in a story about the seldom-noticed contributions of those playing the position.
Virginia’s J.J. Morrissey certainly falls into this category. Last season he could have easily been named the team’s most valuable player (it went to Matt Ward). He scooped a career-high 51 ground balls to rank sixth in the ACC (3.40/g), scored six goals and assisted on seven more.
This season he has been named a team captain in recognition of his leadership skills. Once again he is a demon on ground balls and leads the ACC with an average of 5.20 per game. Deadly in transition, he has scored three goals and had three assists.
Morrissey has led the team in ground balls three times this season (no one else has led more than once). He tied his career high with eight GBs last week vs. Syracuse and had seven in the opener vs. Drexel.
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).
With the Virginia offense operating at a high level this spring, Culver and his defensive mates have rarely been threatened. He limited Stony Brook’s Jason Cappadoro to just one goal. Syracuse standout Mike Leveille scored three times last week, but all three came in the final 20 minutes as the Orange had already fallen behind by five.
Ward Joins 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 44 of 50 games in his career.
He scored a trio of goals in the win over Denver on Feb. 20 to become only the ninth player in school history to score at least 100 in a career; he is sixth with 109 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 is parenthesis is each player’s standing on the ACC career goals list.
Player, years goals (ACC rank)
3. Kevin Pehlke, 1990-93 138 (8)
4. Chase Monroe, 1985-88 116 (18)
5. Jay Jalbert, 1997-2000 112 (19)
6. Matt Ward, 2003-06 109 (T21)
Rubeor Returns after Missing Two
Ben Rubeor was one of the top freshmen in the nation a year ago and made an immediate impact in the line-up. He led ACC freshmen with 16 assists and was second with 18 goals and 34 points.
In the season’s first game against Drexel he led the way with three goals and two assists and was high man the next game with four goals and two assists vs. Denver. He injured his ankle late in that contest and missed the next two games (Stony Brook, VMI).
The rugged sophomore returned to action last Saturday against Syracuse as if he had not missed any time. Once again he led the attack with three goals and two assists in a 20-15 win.
He is averaging 5.3 points per game and has scored at least three goals and had two assists in every game he’s played. He is also tied with Billings as the team’s best shooter with a 41.7 shooting percentage (10 of 24).
Virginia Features Nation’s Top Offense
Virginia comes into this game ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring with an average of 17.2 goals/g.
The Cavaliers have scored at least 13 in every game, including at least 20 the last two games. The double-digit streak is their longest since they scored 10+ in the first six games last season.
We’ll concede it’s unlikely they will score 20 (and might not even get 10) vs. Princeton, but the horses are there to do so.
The attack features four of the top-12 scorers in the country, led by senior All-American Matt Ward. Ward is second nationally with 21 points (12g, 9a). Sophomore Ben Rubeor is seventh with 16 points (10g, 6a) despite missing two games with an injury.
Freshman Garrett Billings leads all freshmen in scoring–tied for eighth overall–with 15 points (10g, 5a), while classmate Danny Glading is the second-ranked freshman (tied for 12th overall) with 14 points (6g, 8a).
Given the most extended playing time of his career, Glazer has been one of the team’s most pleasant surprises with his excellent play. He leads the ACC in faceoff winning percentage with a 66.7-percent mark (48 of 72). He is also second in the league in ground balls, averaging 5.00 per game.
Glazer got the first starting assignment of his career in the opening game against Drexel and played a big role in the Cavaliers’ 15-7 win. He won 11 of 15 attempts (.733) and finished with four ground balls.
He had an even better performance in the win over Stony Brook, 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 won 17-4. He also grabbed a career-high 10 ground balls to lead the team.
One of the keys to last week’s win over Syracuse was Virginia’s ability to maintain possession, particularly in the second quarter when UVa outscored the Orange 8-1 to seize control. Glazer won 14 of 24 draws overall, including five of eight in the second quarter when the Cavaliers had possession virtually the entire period.
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 is 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.
This season they have been nothing short of spectacular.
Dixon is without question one of the most complete middies playing today with uncommon skills. He has tallied five goals and added eight assists. He is ranked second in the nation (behind Sean Morris of UMass) in assists by a midfielder. Last Saturday against Syracuse he had two goals and two assists.
The dangerous Poskay continues to find the back of the net and has scored 12 goals, scoring at least twice in every game but VMI (when he played a quarter). His 12 goals are second among middies behind Dan Deckelbaum of Delaware who has 13.
Thompson has shared the faceoff duties with Charlie Glazer and won 58 percent of his attempts. After a slow start, he has started to heat up offensively. He equaled his career high with three goals against Syracuse, while winning nine of 15 faceoffs (.600). His game-high eight ground balls is also a career high.
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 year’s group of Cavaliers have done their best Brooks Robinson impersonation, sucking up ground balls at a rate of 52.2 per game. Against Stony Brook, they gobbled up 63 and have topped 50 three times. Even when they failed to get 50, they’ve had at least 47.
The Cavaliers have won 52 of their last 57 games (5-0 last year) dating back to 1998 when snapping up at least 50 ground balls.
Four Wahoos 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 109.