Aug. 23, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — To say UVa alumni have high profiles in Major League Lacrosse would be an understatement.
MLL’s 10th season ended Sunday in Annapolis, Md., where the Chesapeake Bayhawks beat the Long Island Lizards 13-9 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
In the championship game, Brian Carroll had 3 goals, Danny Glading 2 goals, Kyle Dixon 2 goals and an assist, and Ben Rubeor 3 assists for the Bayhawks. All played for Dom Starsia at Virginia.
Chesapeake advanced to the title game with a 13-9 victory over the Boston Cannons in the semifinals Saturday. Boston’s starters include Matt Poskay, the MLL’s most valuable player, and Kip Turner, the MLL goalie of the year. Poskay and Turner, of course, are former Cavaliers, too.
Starsia didn’t make it to Annapolis for the MLL championship weekend, but he watched proudly on TV.
Asked Monday if the success of UVa alumni in the MLL helps his program, Starsia said, “I think it would be hard to attach a direct benefit. What it does, I think, is it continues to create the impression that we have high-quality players in the program, and we play the game in a manner that works at the next level also, and that our guys are successful doing that.”
This, Starsia said, is “certainly kind of who we want to be, and having the results that we had this weekend just demonstrates that that may actually be the case.”
As recently as 2008, there were 10 teams in the MLL. In ’09 and again this year, however, there were only six, and the contraction has raised the level of play across the league.
Some viewers who watched the championship game on ESPN2 may not have appreciated how talented MLL players are, Starsia said. “You actually may or may not like the game, because of the pace of it. It’s very different than the college game, but the skill is unbelievable.”
The MLL, unlike NCAA lacrosse, has a shot clock and a two-point arc, and that ensures that the games don’t become grind-it-out defensive battles.
“So for [college] teams that encourage their kids to think on their feet and play the game quickly,” Starsia said, “that would certainly seem to be the kind of experience that prepares those guys best for that next level.”
UVa, which has won three NCAA titles under Starsia, is one such team, and many of his former players have gone on to MLL success. For the most part, though, college lacrosse players aren’t nearly as obsessed with making it to the MLL as, say, young football players are with reaching the NFL.
“I think it’s a piece of it,” Starsia said. “I don’t think they think about it a great deal until their senior year, so it’s not like in baseball and basketball, where guys start thinking about it in high school and aspire to it and all.”
Unlike the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball — to name four other pro leagues — the MLL doesn’t pay its players huge salaries.
“Nobody’s given up their day job yet for the MLL,” Starsia said. “But I think it’s something that guys look forward to doing if they can manage it. That’s why there are few kids that are sort of 10-year veterans. That’s how old the league is. Because you’re just making too many sacrifices on the side, job-wise and family-wise.”
Virginia’s first team meeting of the new academic year is Tuesday, also the first day of classes. The Cavaliers finished 16-2 last season after losing to 14-13 to eventual champion Duke in a thrilling NCAA semifinal in Baltimore.