Cavaliers Face Top-Ranked Syracuse Friday Night in the Dome
The second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers face their first big test of the season this Friday when they travel north to face top-ranked Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The game is scheduled to start at 7 pm. WINA AM 1070 is broadcasting the game in the Charlottesville area. John Freeman and Jamie Leachman call the action.
Both teams bring undefeated records into one of the most highly anticipated match-ups of the season. Virginia has won all four games this season, including a 10-2 win over Mount St. Mary’s Tuesday night. Syracuse has not played since defeating Army 17-6 last week; the Orange are 2-0 this season.
Syracuse ended Virginia’s five-game series winning streak with a dramatic 12-11 double overtime win in the semifinals. The Cavaliers had several shots bang off the post in overtime and Mike Leveille sent the Orange to the finals with his fifth goal of the game at the 1:43 mark. They went on to win their 10th NCAA title two days later.
Virginia head coach Dom Starsia acknowledges that this game has his team’s attention particularly given how the last game ended.
“I think it adds to the excitement of what’s going on,” he said. “I have had to work a little bit the last couple of days to kind of squelch some of the talk about Syracuse while we had another game in between (Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday).
“Clearly there is some buzz in the background that this game is coming up, so I think the result of the game at the end of last season, certainly it is a piece of what our guys are thinking of as we get ready for this next one.”
The teams have had an annual series dating back to 1995, but this is the first time they have met in the Dome in four years. The 2007 and 2008 games were played in Baltimore as part of the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Challenge. Starsia and his squad are looking forward to the trip.
“This is one that you look forward to,” he said. “This is one of the reasons that these young men choose to come to these two institutions. Going up to the Dome and playing a game like this in front of a crowd like we are going to have on Friday night, that’s one of the real treats of college lacrosse. I think everybody’s looking forward to it.”
Both teams have undergone significant changes since that meeting last May in Foxborough.
Virginia graduated leading goal scorer Ben Rubeor, fifth-year goalie Bud Petit, defensive middie Will Barrow and starting middie Peter Lamade. The Orange might have lost even more. They lost Tewaarton Trophy recipient Leveille, the team’s offensive leader who finished with 49 goals and 34 assists, Midfielder of the Year Steven Brooks, All-American faceoff specialist Danny Brennan and starting midfielder Brendan Loftus.
“(Like us), I would say that they are also a team in transition,” Starsia said. “They actually had a pretty big graduation. They clearly have some very talented players back, and outstanding leadership with some seniors.
“But the same way that we do (which) is that they have some question marks in some positions, I would guess, that (Syracuse) coach (John) Desko would say havent been completely answered.
This the game in which some of those questions are going to be answered on both sides. Are we better facing off than we were? Are we going to be better in the goal? Do we shoot well enough? Do we defend hard enough? … I think at the end of this game, we are going to know our own teams a little bit better and what the future probably holds.”