May 17, 2010

By Jeff White (

CHARLOTTESVILLE — In the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament, eight of the 16 teams are awarded seeds. Each of those eight played at home in the tourney’s first round this weekend, including No. 1 UVa, which mauled Mount St. Mary’s.

The Cavaliers’ next game is at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium. Their opponent?

No. 8 seed Stony Brook.

More than a few UVa fans have complained about their favorite team’s draw, but Dom Starsia doesn’t share their outrage. The NCAA announces the sites for its quarterfinal doubleheaders long before the start of a season, and this “was always going to be a possibility,” Starsia said of playing the Seawolves on Long Island, N.Y.

“It’s one of those things that you just don’t worry about. It might not be my first choice for a location for this game, but in all sports but men’s basketball these things happen.”

This year’s quarterfinal games are at Stony Brook and Princeton, N.J. Under NCAA rules, if a school that will host a quarterfinal doubleheader makes the tourney field, it’s guaranteed to play at home in that round.

And so when Stony Brook was awarded the No. 8 seed, UVa, as the No. 1, was placed in the same bracket. Had Denver beaten Stony Brook in the first round, the Cavaliers would have faced the Pioneers at LaValle Stadium this weekend.

Princeton was given the No. 6 seed, which meant No. 3 seed Maryland might have had to face the Tigers on their home field this weekend.

Fortunately for Maryland, unseeded Notre Dame upset Princeton in the first round. The Terrapins face the Fighting Irish at noon Saturday at Princeton, where No. 4 seed Duke and No. 5 seed North Carolina will follow at 2:30 p.m.

At Stony Brook, unseeded Army and No. 7 seed Cornell meet Sunday at noon. Virginia (15-1) and Stony Brook (13-3) will follow at 2:30 p.m.

“It’s similar to in 2006, when we won the championship,” Starsia said. “If [the NCAAs] had played true to form, we would have played Maryland for a third time in the finals. People would have said, ‘Can you beat the same team three times?’ And the answer simply is, ‘You just gotta do it.’

“There are just some things that come up in athletics and college sports of which you might not have any control, and they may not be your first choice, but you’ve got to deal with them and be able to push through, and that’s the most important thing.”

Starsia grew up on Long Island, as did many of his players, including three sets of brothers: Shamel and Rhamel Bratton, Brian and Max Pomper, and Jacob and Adam Ghitelman. Moreover, even if the ‘Hoos didn’t have so many ties to New York, there would figure to be plenty of orange in the stands Sunday.

“I think we travel pretty well, and we certainly think we have a strong following,” Starsia said. “It may not balance out the support for the home team. But that’s why we don’t hesitate to go to the [Carrier] Dome. We go to Homewood [Field], we go to these places.

“I think you’ve got enjoy this kind of environment, and that’s the kind of approach we’ll take with our players. This is an exciting moment, and if we want to accomplish what we’ve been talking about for a long time, we’re going to have to beat Stony Brook on their home field. That’s just the way it goes.”

Several members of Starsia’s team played at LaValle Stadium, which seats 8,216, when they were in high school, including the Bratton twins. Virginia played there early last season, whipping Stony Brook 20-10.

“It’s a great facility,” Starsia said.


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