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The Cavaliers open the 2009 campaign Saturday afternoon against Drexel. The game will be played at Klckner Stadium and faceoff is set for 1 pm.

Virginia finished with a 14-4 record last year and a No. 2 ranking in the final poll. The season came to an abrupt end with a tough 12-11 double overtime loss to Syracuse in the national semifinals.

With 30 returning lettermen, including seven starters returning, Dom Starsia’s squad is viewed as one of the leading candidates to play on Memorial Day in Foxborough, Mass. His team is ranked first in the Face-Off Yearbook preseason poll and second in the preseason USILA coaches poll. While some coaches might shy away from the lofty expectations, Starsia and his players embrace them.

“We don’t run away from (being ranked No. 1),” he said. “I want to be modest but we sort of expect to live in this area. I look at it as an indication of the consistent effort of the program. It’s something to be proud of, the effort of the players and the staff, for us to be here right now.”

Leading the way for the Cavaliers will be senior attackman Danny Glading. Selected Lacrosse magazine’s Preseason Player of the Year, he has started every game of his Virginia career. He was the Cavaliers’ leading scorer with 65 total points and ranked seventh nationally. His 35 assists were second nationally and he was one of only six players to score 30 goals and add 30 assists a year ago.

Joining Glading on attack is classmate Garrett Billings, a preseason second-team All-American who notched 36 goals last spring.

“For this team with a relatively young midfield and a freshman at the third attack spot, Danny Glading and Garrett Billings, in particular, are going to have to step up for us at the offensive end and get the job done for us early on,” Starsia said.

Freshman Steele Stanwick, regarded as the top recruit in the nation by Inside Lacrosse, moves into the role opened following the graduation of Ben Rubeor.

More than half of the top-seven midfielders are sophomores. Rhamel and Shamel Bratton are the most recognized names, but Nick Elsmo and John Haldy have forced the coaching staff to find a way to get them on the field.

Shamel started last season and tied for fourth in the country among rookie middies with 14 goals, while Rhamel played in every game and tallied 10 times.

“They both had very nice freshman years for middies,” said Starsia, “which I think is a very tough adjustment to make.”

Elsmo appeared in only three games last spring, but had an explosive summer by scoring 12 goals to help lead the United State Under-19 National Team to the world championship. Haldy, meanwhile, played in five contests on attack during his freshman year and will be looked upon to use his size (6-3, 220) and athleticism effectively in the midfield.

Drexel has won a share of the CAA regular-season title in each of the last two years. Head Coach Chris Bates returns six starters from a team that advanced to the CAA title game in 2008 and finished with a 13-4 record.

Virginia scored four unanswered goals and scratched out an 11-7 win in last season’s match-up in Philadelphia. But following their remarkable comeback win two years ago in Charlottesville, the Dragons certainly won’t be able to sneak up on the Cavaliers again.

“You’d like to think that the first game of the season just takes care of itself, but we’ve stressed in practice (this week) that we’re not going to take anything for granted at the same time,” said Starsia.

Glading scored twice in the game two years ago but it was not enough to stave off the Dragons’ upset bid.

“I think that right away it shows that we need to be ready to play every week,” he said. “Drexel is a good team and they are going to give us a good challenge and I think that we need to come out ready to play.”

“Drexel beat us here in 2007 and we had our hands full last year and we expect more of the same on Saturday,” Starsia said. “We need to play our best game and I expect that we will.”

Tickets Available
Tickets for the Drexel game are currently on sale. Tickets may be purchased online at or at Klckner Stadium beginning one hour before faceoff. Tickets are $9 (reserved seating), $7 (adult general admission), and $5 (youth, senior, faculty/staff general admission).

Single-game tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at (800) 542-8821 or in person at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An All-Lacrosse Pass, a package that includes a ticket to each of the 16 men’s and women’s home games, including double-headers on March 8 and March 28, is available. All-Lacrosse Passes are $80 (reserved seating), $50 (adult general admission) and $30 (youth, senior, faculty/staff general admission).

Regular season tickets for either the men’s or women’s campaign are $50 (reserved seating), $35 (adult general admission) and $25 (youth, senior, faculty/staff general admission).

Game Notes
This is the eighth year in a row UVa has opened against Drexel
UVa is 42-32-1 (.567) all-time in season openers
The Cavaliers are 7-1 all-time vs. Drexel
Glading, M Max Pomper and LSM Mike Timms have been chosen team captains this year
Glading and Billings are in a tight race to join UVa’s exclusive 100-goal club, whose membership currently rests at 10. Both players have scored 87 career goals and rank tied for 17th in school history

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