By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — His review of the videotape, University of Virginia men’s lacrosse coach Dom Starsia said, confirmed his initial impressions of his team’s performance against third-ranked Syracuse.
“Which is that there’s a lot to like in terms of what’s going on out there,” Starsia said Monday. “But at the same time, when you lose a one-goal game, you tear apart all the little mistakes you made, and we made enough along the way that at the end, when you consider the final result, we just didn’t make enough plays [to win].”
In the ACC opener for both teams, the Cavaliers outscored the Orange 5-3 in the fourth quarter but lost 14-13 at Klöckner Stadium on Friday night. Senior attackman James Pannell led Virginia with four goals and an assist on a night when Syracuse won 18 of 29 faceoffs.
“We made enough mistakes along the way that put us in a position where we had to scramble,” Starsia said. “You hate to have to consider that you have to play perfect, but we just need to be a little smarter, a little better, a little more consistent.
“We’re close, and I think we’re moving in the right direction. We’ve just got to close these things out, and we’ve got to get on a little bit of a roll here.”
An opportunity to build some momentum comes Tuesday night for the 17th-ranked Wahoos. At 7 o’clock, in a non-conference game at Klöckner, Virginia (2-3) meets Saint Joseph’s (3-1).
“I feel like our best lacrosse is ahead,” Starsia said, “and frankly we need to set that standard [Tuesday].”
The days have long since passed, Starsia said, when traditional powers such as UVA could take these midweek games for granted. Parity is coming to college lacrosse, as recent results show.
To wit: High Point stunned Virginia 12-11 in overtime Feb. 23 at Klöckner, and Richmond upset Duke 12-10 on Monday night in Durham, N.C.
The Cavaliers rebounded from the loss to High Point to defeat Penn 15-10, and they hoped to take another step forward against Syracuse. That didn’t happen, but there were signs of progress for Virginia.
“We battled,” Pannell said. “The defense made a lot of stops for us to get the ball back, even if we weren’t winning the faceoffs. It was a great collective effort. It just fell a little short, but there’s a lot of good things to take away from that game.”
Especially encouraging for UVA was the performance of midfielder Greg Coholan, a fifth-year senior who’s one of the team captains. Coholan, the Cavaliers’ leading scorer in 2015, came into Syracuse game having connected on only four of 39 shots (10.3 percent) this season.
Against the Orange, Coholan scored two goals (on six shots) and added an assist.
“I was on a bit of a drought the past couple games,” Coholan said, “and you’ve got to shoot your way out of the hole, so it was definitely nice to get that going.”
As a redshirt junior, Coholan totaled 53 points, on 39 goals and 14 assists.
“He’s one of our big boys,” said Starsia, who has won four NCAA titles at Virginia. “He’s a leader. He does everything right every day. He needs to score.
“I don’t want to put any more pressure on his shoulders. He knows. He’s an experienced kid. We’re just hoping that things open up for him a little bit. I feel like they’re starting to, and hopefully we’ll be able to build on that.
“One of our missions offensively is to get him good looks at the cage, and I think we’re creating those opportunities, and now he’s just got to finish those things for us.”
Pannell said he’s confident Coholan will “have that breakout game where he has five or six [goals]. And when he starts scoring, that’s when this team is going to be at its best, and he proved that [against Syracuse].”
Since losing 11-4 to Loyola in the season opener, Virginia has averaged 13.3 goals per game. With 15 points, Pannell leads the team in scoring. Tied for second, with 11 points each, are Coholan, junior attackman Ryan Lukacovic and junior middies Zed Williams and AJ Fish.
“We’re starting to be better offensively overall, no question about that,” Starsia said. “I think we’re starting to be more dangerous, kind of what we hoped we might evolve into.
“You’ve got some guys stepping up and making some plays, and you feel like the attack is starting to settle in a little bit. So I’d like to think that we’ll continue to get better there.”
Coholan said: “We’re definitely progressing every day. We’ve just got to put it all together for a full 60 minutes, and we’re right there.”