May 29, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The UVa men’s lacrosse players desperately wanted their counterparts on the women’s team to reach the NCAA final four.
That didn’t happen — Virginia’s women lost in the quarterfinals to North Carolina — and so the men have extra incentive this weekend in Baltimore.
“You really want to win for them now,” goalie Adam Ghitelman said last weekend after UVa edged Stony Brook 10-9 on Long Island, N.Y.
“It’s a lot of motivation for me, personally, and I think the team. Those girls deserve everything. We want to play for them for the rest of this year, and we’re going to do that.”
Both teams have been struggling to deal with the tragic loss of Yeardley Love, a member of the women’s team who was found dead in her Charlottesville apartment May 3. A member of the men’s team, George Huguely, has been charged with her murder.
“There are things here that are just going on that are bigger than lacrosse and more important than lacrosse games,” men’s coach Dom Starsia said. “I don’t think these young men need any additional pressure on themselves. But to dismiss that these things are in mind would be naïve. And so for us to want to sort of carry the banner a little bit for the women’s team, that’s just the way it is.
“The two programs have been supportive of each and will continue to do that and feel that way about each other, and I’m certainly not going to deny that at all … This has been a fairly unique set of circumstances, and we’re just trying to deal with it as best we can. Certainly the feelings for the women’s program are with us and will continue to be so.”
Top-seeded UVa (16-1) meets fifth-seeded Duke (14-4) in an NCAA semifinal Saturday night in Baltimore. Starsia was asked early this week if some sense of normalcy had returned in his program.
“Circumstances have changed some lives forever for a lot of different people involved here,” Starsia said. “I’m not exactly sure what normal is these days. I did think that there were times [at Stony Brook] when I wondered whether or not our tank might be running dry, the emotional tank, and I give our kids some credit for kind of reaching down and gutting a win there on Sunday.”
It’s difficult for him to say exactly where his players are emotionally, Starsia said. “All I can tell you is that I have a good bunch of guys here and they’ve been alert on the practice field and they brought good energy to what we’re trying to do, and we’ll see how it transfers on Saturday.”