April 1, 2011

By Jeff White (jwhite@virginia.edu)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Klöckner Stadium is the home of UVa lacrosse, and will be for years to come. For one afternoon, though, the men’s team isn’t upset at all about moving to another venue in town.

No. 6 Virginia (7-2) hosts No. 10 Maryland (6-2) at noon Saturday, and this ACC game will be played at Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers practiced there twice this week.

“It’s awesome,” junior attackman Steele Stanwick said. “It’s pretty cool that we used to play there, and it’s pretty cool that we’re going back to Scott Stadium. I think just the fact that it’s in Scott Stadium catches people’s eyes more than if it’s just at Klöckner.”

UVa hasn’t played a men’s lacrosse game at Scott Stadium since March 8, 1995. That was early in Dom Starsia’s third season as the Cavaliers’ coach. The Wahoos moved into Klöckner in 1993 but periodically played early-season games at Scott Stadium, which then had artificial turf, until ’95.

“We have sold out Klöckner a couple times in recent years,” Starsia said, “and in almost all those instances, it’s a great atmosphere, and you’re wondering, ‘I wonder what kind of crowd we could get here if we had more capacity.’

“I have had casual conversations with folks about playing a game at Scott Stadium, and I always said that I would be interested in talking about it.”

The Maryland game, which ESPNU will televise, originally was set for Klöckner, whose capacity for lacrosse is 8,000. But after football coach Mike London decided to hold his team’s spring game April 2, UVa officials became intrigued by the possibility of a doubleheader at Scott Stadium.

That was fine with London. Starsia, a former Brown University wide receiver whose roster is stocked with former high school football players, had no objections either.

“It didn’t take much to convince me that this was going to be a good idea,” Starsia said, “and I think our players are excited about it.

“The field [at Scott Stadium] looks great, the locker room, the whole facility. I think it’s kind of a once-in-a-career opportunity. We certainly don’t want to lose what we’ve built at Klöckner, but I don’t think that this will have any negative impact on that.”

The Blue-Orange football scrimmage will start soon after the lacrosse game ends.

“I thought it was a compliment that football asked us to join them,” Starsia said, “and so I was pleased about that, and I’m happy to pitch in and help out, to kind of make it a big day over there. And at the same time I think it’ll be a good experience for our kids, and I think we all look forward to it.”

The ‘Hoos, who lost 12-10 to top-ranked Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on March 4, fell 12-11 to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore last weekend.

This will be the ACC opener for UVa. Maryland is 0-2 in conference play, having lost 9-8 in overtime to defending NCAA champion Duke on March 5 and 11-6 to North Carolina last weekend.

“Neither team is desperate, but neither team likes to lose, and both teams want to put a W in the column against a quality opponent and a conference opponent, and get back on the winning track,” Starsia said.

“There’s a certain amount of that anxious energy that probably will be coming off both sidelines, I would think.”

Virginia has beaten such teams as Cornell, Ohio State, Stony Brook and Drexel, but little has come easily for Starsia’s squad this season. The veterans on the attack and in the midfield were expected to carry the team while an inexperienced defense jelled, but the Cavaliers have been inconsistent in almost every aspect of the game.

“I don’t think we’ve really been firing on all cylinders yet,” said Stanwick, UVa’s leading scorer with 39 points (20 goals and 19 assists).

“If one game the offense is off, then the defense has been on, and vice versa. I think we’re still trying to put together a complete game. I think we actually played a pretty good three quarters against Hopkins; we just gave away that first one.

“For us, it’s about staying composed and playing the full 60 minutes.”

That UVa’s play has been so uneven “is a bit surprising,” Stanwick said, “but I don’t think we’re panicking at all. We’re still 7-2.

“To be honest, this is the first time I’ve lost a regular-season game to anyone but Duke. This is definitely a different experience for the upperclassmen, especially. It’s almost refreshing, to be honest. It’s not the same old story. I think sometimes you learn more from a loss than you do from a win, and if we were kind of squeaking out wins, we might not address the issues that we have. But the fact that you’re actually losing games, I think it causes you to look at yourself more harshly and address the issues you need to fix.”

Virginia has won three NCAA titles under Starsia — in 1999, 2003 and 2006. The Terrapins haven’t won the NCAA tournament since 1975.

“Sometimes they kind of don’t get associated with teams like Syracuse and Hopkins,” said Stanwick, who’s from Baltimore, “but in terms of talent, they’re there, if not better. Maryland’s always one of our most physical games, and I think we’re getting ready for that on Saturday.”

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