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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Cavaliers, ranked No. 1 in this week’s USILA coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse media polls, open the 2012 campaign on Saturday in Philadelphia against the Drexel Dragons, ranked No. 20 in the same respective polls. The game will be contested inside Vidas Field and faceoff is slated for 2 p.m. Live stats will be available on

This is the 11th year in a row UVa has opened up its season against Drexel. The Cavaliers bring a 10-1 all-time record against the Dragons into Saturday’s contest, including a 5-0 mark in Philadelphia. UVa’s lone loss in the series was a season-opening setback to the Dragons on the University Hall Turf Field in 2007, a contest moved out of Klöckner Stadium due to weather.

Despite UVa’s perceived dominance due to the overall series record, the recent matchups against Drexel have been strongly contested since Drexel’s surprising victory in Charlottesville to open the 2007 season. In last season’s 12-9 triumph in Charlottesville, UVa and Drexel were knotted at 8-8 heading into the final quarter. Virginia scored four goals in the fourth quarter and goalie Rob Fortunato made several clutch saves in the end to preserve the victory. Virginia rode three goals and five points from Steele Stanwick as the Cavaliers took home an 11-8 victory during UVa’s last trip to Vidas Field in 2010, which coincidently served as head coach Dom Starsia’s 200th career win at Virginia.

UVa’s 20-5 win in 2002 was the first meeting in more than 50 years. The first meeting of the two schools occurred in 1947, Virginia’s first season following World War II. The Cavaliers gained a 7-2 victory in Philadelphia. Barry Robertson was high man for UVa with four goals, while goalie Bob Catzen registered 12 saves. Catzen’s 12 saves that afternoon is tied for the most by a Cavalier goalie in the series. Rob Fortunato filling in for All-American Adam Ghitelman in last year’s meeting also saved 12 shots, helping UVa to the 12-9 triumph.

The Cavaliers are 45-32-1 (.583) all-time in season openers, including a mark of 14-16 (.467) when opening up the season on the road. Saturday’s game will mark the third time in the last seven seasons the Cavaliers have opened the season on the road.

Virginia enters 2012 after finishing with a 13-5 record last year and the program’s fifth NCAA title. UVa became the first five-loss team and lowest seed (No. 7) to hoist the championship hardware on Memorial Day.

With 32 returning lettermen, including seven starters, Starsia’s squad is viewed as one of the leading candidates to make it to Final Four weekend in Boston, Mass., vying to play on Memorial Day for the second year in a row. His team is ranked No. 1 in four preseason polls (USILA coaches, Nike/Inside Lacrosse media, Face-Off Yearbook and Lacrosse Magazine).

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