Cavaliers Take One Step Closer to Ultimate Goal Saturday vs. Cornell
The disappointing end to the regular season, including a 16-5 loss to Duke in the ACC Tournament, gave the Cavaliers plenty to think about as they headed into the NCAA Championship. Not only did they have to contend with final exams, they also had to find ways to rebuild their confidence.
“After the ACC Tournament we benefited from having a week where we didn’t know who we were going to play two weeks later, so we really got to focus on ourselves for a week and we got after it,” said senior attackman Danny Glading. “The defense and the offense were chippy, a lot of trash talking, a lot of physical play going on, so we were able to work on what we needed to work on and it was key for us. Now we’re moving harder and we’re playing more patiently on offense.”
The offensive patience has paid off with two convincing wins over Villanova and Johns Hopkins, games in which the Cavaliers shot better than 40 percent each time.
“We’re not taking bad angle shots and that’s been a huge key for us,” Glading said. “We’re really not worried about who is breaking down the defense but the defense is breaking down and we’re getting the ball hot and we’re getting the ball to areas where we’re going to be able to get in high percentage places to shoot the ball. That’s what’s really working for us right now, the patience and the unselfishness.”
According to Virginia head coach Dom Starsia the late season disappointment helped get his team focused for the postseason.
“I think we were a little disappointed how the season ended,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten after it in practice the last couple of weeks. Clearly getting into the playoffs has gotten everyone’s attention, just getting to it. I’d say if anything it’s just been our relentless approach in both these games. We’re on the loose balls, we’re pressuring the play at the offensive end.
“I’m a little bit surprised by it frankly. We’re clearly playing our best lacrosse of the year and we’ve picked a good time for that.”
As the Cavaliers get ready to face Cornell in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship tomorrow at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., a lot has happened since the two teams clashed in Charlottesville in early March and to the players that 14-10 victory in the first meeting is a distant memory.
“I think it was so long ago that at this point in the season teams have come such a long way that I’m not sure the first match-up is going to have that much of a bearing on this one,” said senior longstick midfielder Mike Timms.
“I don’t know if there’s that many things that they’re doing differently, I think that they’re just doing them better. They’ve had all season to get better.”
Starsia sees a Big Red team with a lot of firepower, particularly on offense. Player of the Year Max Seibald earned All-America honors for the fourth time this season. He is second on the team with 25 goals and third with 34 total points.
Freshman attackman Rob Pannell is Cornell’s leading scorer with 59 points; he also leads the way with 38 assists and is one of four players with at least 20 goals (21).
“I wouldn’t say that they’ve changed a great deal (since the first meeting),” Starsia said. “Their first six on offense, in particular, while they’ve changed one guy on the attack who played some against us but now he’s settled in as a starter, I think what you’re seeing more than anything else is a team that is playing with a confidence and experience of a team that’s had a great deal of success over the course of the regular season. They’re playing with great energy. In the game they just won over Princeton I thought they played very, very hard. In a lot of ways they look the same on tape, but they’re just playing at a much higher level.”
With overwhelming victories over two very good defensive clubs in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Virginia is also playing at a higher level than before.
“No one saw this coming really,” Starsia continued. “I think what you’re seeing is what we always felt we were capable of. But if you don’t do it, it doesn’t matter what you’re capable of, you haven’t done it.
“We had our spurts early in the year but I don’t think we had the balance in any of those early games that we’ve had in these first two playoff games. I would have told you that the whole key to success in the playoffs is to get hot at the right time of the year and if we’ve just played our best two games we’ve picked a good time for it. All of our efforts have been toward whatever we’ve been doing; let’s see if we can keep it going.”
Seven Cavaliers received All-America recognition this season, including three named to the first team—attackman Danny Glading, defenseman Ken Clausen and midfielder Shamel Bratton.
Glading, who is the only player in the country with at least 30 goals and 30 assists. moves up to the first team for the first time this season. He was a second-team choice last year and a third teamer as a sophomore in 2007. He leads the team in assists (30) and total points (30). After a slow start, he’s been on a tear with 28 goals in the last 13 games.
Clausen is the first Virginia defenseman named to the first team in back-to-back years since Ryan Curtis in 1999-2000. He shut down some of the most explosive offensive players in the country this season and is third among Atlantic Coast Conference defensemen with 48 ground balls and second with 27 caused turnovers.
Bratton has exploded this season into one of the most electrifying players in the country. He is Virginia’s first first-team middie since Kyle Dixon in 2006. Bratton is ranked fifth in the country among midfielders with 30 goals, more than double his total from a year ago (14).
Senior attackman Garrett Billings and junior midfielder Brian Carroll were named to the third team. Billings leads the team with 37 goals and is second with 57 total points; he was an honorable mention selection last season. Carroll was named to the third team for the second year in a row. He is seventh among middies with 29 goals this season.
Senior defenseman Matt Kelly and senior longstick midfielder Mike Timms were honorable mention choices. Kelly has started more games (66) on defense than any player in school history. He has scooped 35 ground balls and is second in the ACC among defensemen with 27 caused turnovers. This is the third season in a row Timms has received honorable mention recognition. He is sixth among longstick midfielders with 59 ground balls this spring and is ranked second in the ACC with 31 caused turnovers.
Timms Named First-Team Academic All-District
Longstick midfielder Mike Timms has been chosen to the ESPN The Magazine First-Team Academic All-District III At-Large squad. Timms received his degree in economics last May and is currently enrolled in a master’s of commerce program in UVa’s McIntire School of Commerce. He has been named to the ACC Honor Roll the previous four years and to the ACC All-Academic men’s lacrosse squad. As a first-team selection, he advances to the national ballot.