NCAA Preview: No. 2 Virginia
by Patrick Stevens | Special to Lacrosse Magazine
The February issue of Lacrosse Magazine features an extensive NCAA lacrosse preview, from Division I through Division III, plus in-depth features on the top-ranked Syracuse men and the snake-bitten Cal women. Lacrosse Magazine Online (laxmagazine.com) examines the key players, strengths, weaknesses, best- and worst-case scenarios, sleepers, what's new, what's not and rival coaches' takes on each of the top 10-ranked teams in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.
NO. 2 VIRGINIA
Shamel Bratton headlines a deep midfield corps for
Virginia -- perhaps the deepest Dom Starsia has ever had at his
© Thomas Wilson
Head Coach: Dom Starsia
2010 Records: 16-2, 2-1
M Shamel Bratton (Sr.)
Twice a first-team All-America selection, Bratton is one of the nation's most dynamic player at the position.
M Rhamel Bratton (Sr.)
A two-way threat who thrives in transition, Bratton scored 23 goals as a junior and will likely be asked for even more with a developing defense.
A Steele Stanwick (Jr.)
The unquestioned leader of the Virginia attack had 29 goals and 32 assists last year. "Stanwick is going to be on the very short list of the best attackmen in the game," Starsia said. "He's as fine a player as I've had back there."
M Chris LaPierre (So.)
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound LaPierre had 10 goals and nine assists while playing mostly out of the defensive midfield in 2009. With more chances on offense, he’ll be a greater matchup nightmare this season.
Last year’s ACC tournament MVP owns 45 career starts and will need to be a steadying influence as the Virginia close defense breaks in a pair of new starters. Ghitelman is 20-1 as a starter at Klockner Stadium.
• A loaded midfield as deep as Starsia has ever had
• Potent attack filled with players who gained experience last season
• Inexperience at close defense beyond Matt Lovejoy
• Uncertainty in the defensive midfield
The Cavaliers' defense quickly emerges as a capable unit, and it matures in time to complement a powerful offense that leads Virginia to its fourth national title since 1999.
The defensive concerns prove warranted and Virginia winds up only the third best team in the ACC. That still means a trip to at least the NCAA quarterfinals, but perhaps no further.
M Bobby Hill (Fr.)
With departures from the defensive midfield, the West Chester, Pa., native could become a crucial piece this season. "He was a revelation in the fall," Starsia said. "We didn't know what to expect here, but he's a tough kid. I think he'll play an important role."
RIVAL COACH'S TAKE
"UNC lost a lot of key players. They're still going to be really, really tough. Any team when you graduate that many players there's going to be an adjustment."
"They graduated a really good senior class. They have a lot of holes, but they always have good freshmen that will be ready to fill in. They've been to back to back final fours, and I'm sure they want to put that as their goal to win a national championship even though they graduated a big senior class."
"That program has really taken it to the next level."
"They're athletic, tough and they now can back up their swagger with two final four appearances."
"Speed, speed and more speed. A very deep roster will help them deal with the rigors of the year."
"How they fill the void in the midfield and on the defensive end will make or break some close games."
After a two-year stint in the Meadowlands, the Virginia-North Carolina series returns to campus. The Cavaliers will play host to the Tar Heels on April 9.
For the ninth time in 12 years, there's a Glading on the roster. Freshman attackman Pat Glading follows in the footsteps of his brothers, former Cavalier stars Billy and Danny.
Average victories for Virginia over coach Dom Starsia's 18 seasons. Starsia is 215-67 with three national titles and 12 final four appearances.