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Feb. 23, 2007

Charlottesville, Va. –

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This weekend the UVa men’s lacrosse team travels to Long Island for its first regular-season contest there in seven years. Saturday’s match-up against the Stony Brook Seawolves is an important one for the Cavaliers, not the least of which is a chance to get their first victory of the young season.

The trip represents a homecoming for five Cavaliers, including senior All-Americans Ricky Smith and Drew Thompson. Joining them for a return home are midfielders Will Barrow (Baldwin) and Max Pomper (Huntington) and attackman Tim Fuchs (Merrick). While they won’t be able to sleep in their own beds during the trip, they will have the opportunity to play at a familiar field and in front of many friends and family members.

The opportunity to play in familiar surroundings is not unusual for many Cavaliers, especially those hailing from the Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., areas. For example, junior attackman Ben Rubeor, a native of Towson, Md., has played six of 31 career games in the Baltimore area.

“When I came on my recruiting visit, one of the questions I asked Coach Starsia before I committed was if they ever got to play on Long Island,” said Smith, a native of Hicksville in Nassau County. “He said they hadn’t been there in several years and that I shouldn’t count on it.”

When the 2007 schedule was announced, Smith, Thompson and the other Long Islanders learned they had a homecoming trip to call their own.

“It’s great for the Long Island guys to get home and play in front of a crowd they grew up playing in front of,” said Thompson, who grew up in Northport on the North Shore, some 40 minutes from Stony Brook. “It’s great for the fans, too, because they get to see some guys play that they watched in high school.”

Fans won’t be the only ones seeing these Cavaliers play once again. During Smith’s junior year at Hicksville HS, the team capains were Jim Montana and Joe Mascaretti, now assistant coaches at Stony Brook. Stony Brook attackman Michal Trojanowski was a year behind him at Hicksville. “I talked to Jimmy the other day and they’re prepping for us.” Smith said.

Thompson could be matched against fellow Northport alum Jason Joiner. “I was thinking he might be covering me, but I’m not sure,” he said.

There are practical reasons for scheduling the game, according to head coach Dom Starsia, himself an Island native from Valley Stream. “We’ve been trying to schedule a regular opponent on Long Island for a long time. I think it’s good for the program to go up to Long Island. It’s certainly an active, fertile area for recruiting and I think it’s important for the University of Virginia to have a presence in the New York area.”

In addition to looking forward to the trip, Smith thinks his teammates, most of whom have never been to Long Island, will also find the experience enlightening. “To hear some of the Long Island accents in the crowd yelling at them should be pretty cool,” he chuckled.

The Cavaliers (0-1) faceoff against the Seawolves (0-0) Saturday afternoon 1 pm at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

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