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April 30, 2006

ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship
Championship Game – Sunday, April 30, 2006
#1 Virginia vs. #2 Maryland

Virginia head coach Dom Starsia
Opening statement:
Well, I was just really pleased to get the win today. I was very concerned about our team coming in without having played in a couple of weeks, and with everything else that’s gone on over the last few weeks. Against a very good Maryland team, I thought our performance early in the game reflected a little bit of our inactivity. I don’t think we were as sharp as we had been in the weeks prior to the layoff. But I thought we worked hard, I thought we rode the ball back early in the game, created some goals that way just through effort. And that’s what is required when there’s not as much magic happening. You’ve just got to go out and grind it out and I thought we did that in the first half and then I thought we got a little bit better in the second half. I thought we played well defensively almost throughout the game. (Goalkeeper) Kip (Turner) came up with some big saves when we had to have them and I was very pleased with our defensemen, who were sitting down and moving their feet and I was pleased with all those individual matchups.

On how the inactivity showed:
I don’t think we shot the ball particularly well in the first half. (Maryland goalkeeper Harry) Alford played well, certainly, but I thought we just didn’t shoot the ball with the same crispness. I had read from somebody said we were a very good 10-12 yard shooting team, and I thought we had some of those chances in the first half; we didn’t make good shots out of them. We talked about not shooting at Alford’s feet, I thought we shot the ball there early in the game, and we just got a little smarter. As we were moving toward the end of the first half I don’t think Kyle (Dixon) shot some smart shots. He had some good shots, but didn’t make smart shots out of them. I thought he shot the ball much better in the second half. Overhand, eye-to-eye, pounded the ball a little bit better in the second half. I thought in the clearing game, I just don’t think we were real crisp. I thought Kip left a couple passes up. I think it’s right to say we were quite as sharp as we had been in the couple of weeks before we took this break.

On the accomplishment of going undefeated heading into the NCAA Tournament:
It’s a real joy, what this regular season has been. I’ve been saying it for any number of weeks and months now, in our sport, people remember what you do in the month of May. That’s what the public takes away from it. But even the players, that’s what they take away from it also. If you want to evaluate the body of work overall, I think the regular season is a better way to do that, and with the schedule that we play, to come back and play Maryland again and to win this game again in this setting right now, it really speaks to the kind of effort we’ve had all year. We don’t talk about being undefeated, it’s not a likely occurrence, but when it happens, you certainly take note of it, and I think it’s a credit to what these guys have done and what they do bring to the practice field everyday.

On the philosophy of the break:
We scrimmaged a little but more than we certainly would have at this point of year, and we also ran more than we did, especially in that week that went into the Duke bye. We gave them three days off – that was the Easter weekend – we gave them three days off there, and those four days we worked hard and they were very good. Then we came back and we had a couple of days to get ready for Bellarmine, and I felt like I need to lean on them again. I would tell you that by Wednesday before Bellarmine, they were a little sick of me. They truly were … I think that they understood that we needed to work at it, and to do like what Ben (Rubeor) said: one is try to keep our edge and two is to try to improve. So we scrimmaged a little bit more than we would have at this time of year and we certainly ran more to try to put a little bit more of an edge on our conditioning. I feel we’re a team that likes to play fast. If you want to play fast when the weather gets warm, then you’ve got to be able to bring it all the time.

On whether Maryland’s having played on Friday, and if it hurt Maryland in the game:
I think at the very end certainly. I certainly felt like in through the third quarter they had a couple of long possessions, had the ball for a long time, I didn’t see any fatigue there. But about midway through the fourth, when we got a goal or two there, I thought the air kind of came out of their balloon a little bit, so to speak. But give them a lot of credit. I thought Maryland battled the whole day. That’s a quality Maryland team in every regard. From our standpoint, people were saying it’s a disadvantage not to be playing; it’s an advantage not to be playing. It can’t go both ways. So I kept saying, “it is what it is for us.” We came out, we had to play Maryland today, that was the task for us to have a good hard game today, as we now come to exams and get ready for NCAAs is exactly what we needed at this time.

Senior defender Michael Culver
On defending Maryland’s Joe Walters:

To be perfectly honest, the big secret is sitting next to me (Kip Turner). Kip bailed me out a number of times. Frankly, I don’t think I played my best game today, but I think as a whole, defensively, we played really well, so I’m not really sure if I was really deserving of the MVP award, but I know our whole defense was today, and I’m really proud of the way our entire defense played.

The thing about Joe is that he’s so good when he gets his hands free and he’s such a dangerous shooter. So it’s deceptive. It seems like he’s not working that hard inside all the time, but he really is, and all he needs is just a half foot to get a shot off. Obviously, I think all facets of his game are pretty sharp and we just did the best we could on him today and I had help from the entire defense. Kip, Ricky (Smith), Matt Kelly, Mike Timms, everybody.

Sophomore attacker Ben Rubeor
On the layoff:

We’ve prided ourselves the entire season on just being a good practicing team. And we’ve continued to keep up that effort throughout these few weeks. We have not had the game experience these last few weeks, and I think that kind of carried over into this game. We weren’t as sharp as we could have been early, but we are continuing to improve, continuing to practice hard, and we got it done today.

Senior attacker Matt Ward
On running the table:

I think this group of seniors has really led the way it should have. Our juniors, sophomores and freshmen have really stepped in behind us and almost stepped into their leading roles as well. For them to just look at us on the practice field and say “we’ve got to go that hard,” it’s a credit to them because it just carries over. There’s 40 guys on this team and when we go out to practice it’s fun. We have a good time. We get down to work when we know we have to and we want to be there. We have 3:30 practices and we have guys on the field at 2:45 shooting and half the team’s there at 3. Guys on our team want to be there, and the seniors are a perfect example. We know what it takes to get there. We know what happens when it doesn’t work out for you. We know what happens when you don’t do the work. By us just taking that extra step forward and letting these guys behind us follow us, it’s really become special.

On thinking about going undefeated:
I guess now we have to. If we lose, we’re going home. That’s our next goal and that’s what we have to do. That’s what we want.

Maryland Head Coach Dave Cottle
Opening Statement:

I thought our kids fought hard. I said to TV at halftime, I thought when they made a mistake we got a shot. When we made a mistake, they got a goal. I thought we gave a very good effort. Our kids hustled, they cared and I thought in the end we just came up a little tired. Not from being out of shape, but from the heat and chasing. When you’re behind you expend more energy than when you’re ahead.

On what teams need to do to beat Virginia:
You have to hold them under 10, and you have to score 10. I think we had enough quality chances. The key is if you hold them under 10, then you have a fighting chance. We are pretty good defensively. We had to chase them around a little bit today. Last time it was 15-5 and they were very kind to us. In this game, we improved some. In the fourth quarter we out shoot them 12-4 and we lose 2-1. We have to make some shoots and take some good shots. I thought good offense lends itself to good defense. When we played smart, we got good shots and when you play bad offense it lends itself to bad defense. There were times we took bad shots which caused a bad transition down at the other end.

On the defense played my Mike Culver on Joe Walters today:
Joe took 10 shots. A couple of those go in, it’s a new game. The team supported Culver well. They doubled Joe once he came off some screens, so I thought they played good team defense. They not only played good individual defense with Mike (Culver), but I thought they supported him well.

Junior, Goalkeeper – Harry Alford
On the weapons of Virginia and the problem of who to guard:

Our game plan was to make sure we had good match-ups. They have a lot of great players on offense. They really took advantage of our mistakes today. We didn’t communicate well on picks, sometimes we didn’t get into the hole on transition. They really capitalized on our mistakes today.

On the play of Virginia today:
They definitely get a lot of opportunities from the inside and outside. I tried my best to not give up anything from the outside past 10 yards. They really took advantage of the crease today. Last time, I felt like I didn’t get to a lot of the shots I should have, but today I made some stops in the first half, but they have so many good players, good leaders, Matt Ward is a great leader for them. They really rallied behind their big guns.

Senior, Midfielder – Brendan Healy
On the offensive struggles:

We were taking bad shots because we were getting flustered with them pushing us out. We tried to get Joe (Walters) and Xander (Ritz) the ball and we weren’t running the ball like we should have. We were moving off the ball which made it difficult to move the ball around, especially with a team that’s pressuring you. I thought we had some quality chances, there were times in the game where we could have turned the momentum around and had things go our way both in the first and second half. We had good shots that hit a knee, Kip (Turner) would make a good save, or we would miss wide. You make a couple of those, momentum may have swung a little bit like it did on Friday and things may have gone our way.

On the possibility of having to adjust their offense today with how Virginia was playing:
No, I think the problem was that we weren’t running our offense well. We were letting the little things get to us. We didn’t necessarily have to make adjustments, we just needed to make the right looks and reads off the plays and make sure we were moving off the ball. We were a little stagnant like when we played them earlier in the year and when we played Navy. We created opportunities, we just missed them today.

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