Bratton Active for Virginia's Game against UNC; Lovejoy Out for Season
Shamel Bratton, the undeniably talented but embattled All-American midfielder for the University of Virginia men's lacrosse game, is active for Saturday's home game against North Carolina.
The ninth-ranked Cavaliers have lost two straight games, including last week's 12-7 loss to Maryland in which Bratton did not play due to an unspecified violation of team rules. It marked the second time this season he was suspended for a game. Bratton missed Virginia's overtime triumph at Stony Brook on Feb. 26. His twin brother, Rhamel, was also suspended for that game.
Bratton practiced all week. Cavaliers head coach Dom Starsia told the Washington Times on Friday that "he is eligible to play and is likely to." Starsia had earlier termed Bratton's suspension as "indefinite."
Virginia's off-field problems have been well documented, including a similar suspension of starting goalie Adam Ghitelman in the season opener against Drexel.
"It is frustrating to be dealing with some of these [disciplinary] issues," Starsia told LaxMagazine.com's Gary Lambrecht this week. "My job is to kind of help some of these guys grow up. It can be very frustrating. I try not to throw in the towel on my guys. If any of these things is even a little bit of a distraction, it makes a game against a Carolina or a Maryland even more challenging. But I can't compromise on some core issues as we go along."
Without Bratton, who averages three points per game, the Cavaliers struggled to generate offense in the second half against Maryland. Of more concern is their defense, which ranks 37th in Division I. It took another hit this week, as starting close defenseman Matt Lovejoy underwent shoulder surgery that will shelve him for the remainder of the season. Lovejoy was Virginia's top cover man on defense, often drawing opponents' top attackmen.
North Carolina is also coming off a loss, a 10-9 defeat at the hands of Johns Hopkins in the Konica Minolta Big City Classic. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 5 in this week's USILA poll.
Virginia led UNC, 5-3, at halftime. Shamel Bratton scored a first-quarter foal. The game is being televised live nationally on ESPNU.