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Following two scrimmages and nearly a month of practice, the Virginia men’s lacrosse team opens its season Sunday at Drexel. The game is scheduled to faceoff at 2 p.m. and will be televised on CN8 (on channel 8 in the Charlottesville area).

The Dragons surprised the Cavaliers in last season’s opener with two goals in the final 10 seconds to gain an 11-10 win. They enter this season ranked 18th by Face-Off Yearbook and have been picked to win the Colonial Athletic Association by the league’s coaches. Drexel returns its top four scorers, a preseason All-American defenseman and All-CAA goalie Bruce Bickford from last year’s squad that went 11-5.

Cavalier head coach Dom Starsia says his team, like most others, is a work in progress at this early juncture. Following last Saturday’s scrimmage against Georgetown head coach Dom Starsia told his team the start of a season “is sort of the beginning of an adventure” as the various components start to come together.

“Most teams are (a work in progress) at this stage certainly, but I like our guys. We’ve worked hard and we’ve had a good preseason, so we are kind of ready to step in the regular season.”

After the loss to Drexel a year ago, his team is sure to be well prepared. “All of these (first) games now require the full measure of our attention and Drexel certainly has mine. I think we will be ready to play and I think we will be excited about it.

“We are going to have to go and earn our way every step of this journey starting with this first one. We are going to have to go and play our best game on Sunday against Drexel and that’s what our expectation is going to be for our performance and that’s what we have to strive for.”

The Cavaliers are expected to go into the game without the services of All-American attackman Ben Rubeor, currently out with an injury. Starsia calls his status “kind of week-to-week, day-to-day kind of thing.” Senior Ryan Kelly, junior Gavin Gill and freshman John Haldy are expected to get time on attack in Rubeor’s absence.

While Rubeor’s injury added an unexpected question mark to the preseason, there were two clear areas of interest confronting the teamfaceoffs and goaltending.

Adam Fassnacht and Drew Thompson handled most of the team’s duties at the faceoff X last spring but they have graduated, giving chances to sophomores Brian McDermott and Mike Thompson, and freshman Garett Ince.

“After two scrimmage, I have been pleased with the faceoffs overall, said Starsia. “Brian McDermott was very good against Navy, but we held him out last weekend due to a nagging injury. Garett Ince and Mike Thompson went in and did a nice job against Georgetown. We feel pretty good about it, but it’s still clearly a question that is a bit unanswered.”

One of the most spirited battles during preseason has been the one to replace the graduated Kip Turner in goal. Senior Bud Petit, sophomore Mark Wade and freshman Adam Ghitelman have all gotten plenty of turns in practice. Petit started the Navy scrimmage, while Ghitelman got the nod vs. Georgetown. Starsia noted that he is close to making a decision, but had not made one at the present time.

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