No. 1 Virginia Rolls by Syracuse for Trip to Title Game

Philadelphia, Pa. - Led by a balanced offense and another dominant start, the top-ranked Virginia men's lacrosse team rolled to a 17-10 win over Syracuse this afternoon in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships before a tournament record 49,562 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Virginia squares off against the University of Massachusetts Monday at 1 pm in the national championship game. The Minutemen (13-4) defeated Maryland 8-5 in the other semifinal game today.

The Cavaliers are in search of their fourth NCAA Championship overall and their first since 2003, while UMass has reached the finals for the first time in program history.

The Cavaliers remain the only undefeated team in the country and gained their school-record 16th win of the season this afternoon. Syracuse returned to the final four this year after a year's absence and sees its season end with a 10-5 record.

Syracuse attackman Brett Bucktooth scored in the game's first minute. The early lead by the Orange was the first deficit the Cavaliers had faced in nine games.

The score remained 1-0 Syracuse for a little more than two-and-a-half minutes before freshman Danny Glading tied with his 24th goal of the season at the 11:24 mark. Fellow freshman Steve Giannone beat goalie Peter Coluccini for his only goal of the game 49 seconds later to give Virginia a lead it would never relinquish.

Garrett Billings became the third Cavalier freshman in a row to score with the first of his three tallies at the 9:39 mark. Kyle Dixon, Matt Ward and Drew Thompson scored in quick succession as the Virginia lead ballooned to 6-1 midway through the first quarter.

"We haven't really been a hot starting team the whole year. That's sort of evolved in the second half of the season," said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. "Early in the year we actually struggled to put the ball in the goal. It seemed like games were closer longer than they have been more recently. We talk all the time about trying to get off to a good start. It was especially important late in the season, especially when we lost (the opportunity to play) those couple of games and everybody was concerned what the rest was going to do. We really talked in practice often about the tempo of play and making sure we weren't caught by surprise by the tempo of play. It may be that by emphasizing that the last few weeks we've been able to get off to a better start. We certainly have played well in the early part of the most recent games."

Syracuse midfielder Brian Crockett ended Virginia's six-goal run with 4:11 remaining in the first quarter. Billings and Ward tallied in the final 1:26 to give UVa an 8-2 lead. Virginia scored its eight goals in the first quarter on just 12 shots. Matt Poskay opened the second quarter scoring as Virginia notched nine of the game's first 11 goals. The 9-2 advantage marked Syracuse's largest deficit of the season.

The Orange scratched their way back into the game with a four-goal run to cut the Cavalier lead to 9-6. Freshmen Dan Hardy, Kenny Nims and Matt Abbott, joined Bucktooth in helping cut into Virginia's lead.

Ben Rubeor scored his only goal of the game for Virginia two-minutes and nine seconds before halftime to push the Cavalier lead to four at 10-6. Crockett closed the first half scoring with 3.8 seconds left in the half as Virginia took a 10-7 lead at the break.

"When we went in at halftime we were in kind of the same situation we were in against Georgetown, being up 8-5," said Ward. "We had just worked so hard all year that the second half has kind of become our half and we try to put our games away. We came out in the second half and scored a lot of goals. I think our team went in at halftime and knew what it was going to take to get the victory."

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2006-05-27



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