February 28, 2011

Monday Morning Midfielder

No Special Treatment for Virginia's Star Players

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff


Shamel Bratton should be back in the lineup Monday against VMI, perhaps humbled after seeing Virginia beat Stony Brook without him and his brother, Rhamel.

Is Dom Starsia a motivational genius, or what?

By suspending senior goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman for the Virginia men's lacrosse team's season opener against Drexel and senior midfielders Rhamel and Shamel Bratton for the Cavaliers' game Saturday at Stony Brook, Starsia has sent a stern message to his star players.

We don't need you.

That's not actually the case, of course. If Virginia wants to win its first NCAA championship since 2006, it will need the school's all-time winningest goalie and its explosive, ankle-breaking Bratton brothers.

But the Wahoos have proven that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as other players have stepped up to lead them to a 3-0 start and the No. 1 ranking in the USILA Division I poll. It would have been easy to let Ghitelman serve his suspension against Mount St. Mary's or keep the Bratton brothers' punishment on hold until tonight's game against VMI.

Instead, the suspensions came against two formidable, top-20 opponents. Rob Fortunato made his first career start in place of Ghitelman opposite Drexel's man child Mark Manos in the opener and made 12 saves, as Virginia won 12-9. On Saturday, the Cavaliers' defense did enough to keep Stony Brook's potent offense at bay, and old reliable Steele Stanwick scored five goals, including the game winner in overtime of a 10-9 Virginia victory.

Starsia has not specifically confirmed the cause of the suspensions or said if alcohol was involved in either case. Of the Brattons, he said Saturday, "it's a little violation of team policy, that's all. It's been resolved." Of Ghitelman, he previously said it was a "team matter" that was "resolved."

Regardless the cause, it seems Starsia has tightened the ship, which is not a bad thing considering the scrutiny under which Virginia lacrosse resides with the George Huguely trial pending. It also bodes well for the Cavaliers to know that they have a capable backup goalie in Fortunato and a deep midfield that can compensate for any attrition.

Humble pie never tasted so good.

PARDON THE INTERRUPTION

Last week, I was a guest on the Pulse Network's "The Pulse on Campus" and "dropped knowledge bombs" on the current college lacrosse season, if you believe what host Tyler Pyburn says.

Typically, I've shied away from such appearances out of fear of being made to look like an idiot. But I recently saw "Yes Man," and it inspired me to say yes more in 2011. (In case you didn't know, 75 percent of my decisions in life are based on morals learned in Jim Carrey movies.)

So I did it. Even though the request came Thursday morning to be on the show Thursday afternoon and I have not shaved or gotten a haircut since Christmas, I hopped on Skype and got my Quint Kessenich on.

Think this beard can take me to Bristol? Now I'm just waiting for a call from Daniel Tosh to be next week's "Web Redemption" on "Tosh.0."

Look for more appearances from yours truly waxing on all things lacrosse this season on Pulse Network. I promise to look less Portuguese next time.

WEEKEND'S BEST

Player: Ryan Flanagan, North Carolina

Coming off an upset loss to Ohio State that had all sorts of people jumping off the UNC bandwagon, the Tar Heels got the lift they needed with a hard-fought, 10-8 win over Navy keyed by a gutsy performance by senior defenseman Ryan Flanagan. He did damage in the transition game, scoring two goals (including a key one in the third quarter), left the game due to bleeding and returned to cause a key turnover in the fourth quarter.

Honorable mentions: R.G. Keenan, North Carolina; Steele Stanwick, Virginia; Grant Catalino, Maryland; Curtis Holmes, Maryland; Grace Golden, William and Mary (women); Ryan Klipstein, Bucknell; Rob Pannell, Cornell; Jamie Lincoln, Hofstra; Charlie Finnigan, Virginia (women)

Game: Northwestern 7, North Carolina 6 (OT)

Sophomore Taylor Thornton was the unlikely hero, scoring in the final seconds of overtime to lift the Wildcats to a big win Friday in Chapel Hill. Two days later, they turned around and thumped a very good Vanderbilt team, providing all indications that, yes, Northwestern is back.

Honorable mentions: Stanford 18, Harvard 17 (women); Delaware 12, Bellarmine 11; Penn, 7, Duke 3 (if only for the stunning result, not the game itself); Loyola 3, Towson 2 (just kidding).

Quote: Charlie Toomey, Loyola

"I looked at [goalie Jake Hagelin] and the defense, and I said, 'one more stop, and we go home [with a win]. It is good to know that we can score in 6-on-6, and that if it is a slow game, we can gut it out with our athleticism."

Translation: "Phew. Damn that was ugly, but we'll take the win."


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