Virginia Lacrosse Vanquishes Villanova 18-6 in First Round
It's hard to believe that a No. 1 seed has something to prove, but that is exactly what the Virginia Cavaliers had on their minds Sunday afternoon against the Villanova Wildcats.
On the surface, it might be easy to overlook an 18-6 victory.
It's a 1 vs. 16 game, what else would you expect?
However, there is more than meets the eye when it came to this bullying effort by Virginia.
The men's lacrosse team from Charlottesville come into the NCAA tournament with a stellar 13-2 record, but the Cavalier faithful were far from overjoyed before their first round match.
After all, how would you feel if your team that has been ranked No. 1 practically the entire year had just been humbled for the second time this year by the Duke Blue Devils?
It has been over two weeks since Duke used Virginia as a whipping post in an 16-5 drubbing en route to an ACC title.
The anger was palpable by Virginia fans after the loss. As good as the Cavaliers have been historically, Duke has now won seven straight in the series between the two teams.
Even the immortal coach Dom Starsia, a man who has brought in three national championships, was facing charges of being "out-coached" and "too conservative".
For two weeks, Virginia could only sit around and hear how bad they were, how overrated they had been.
Well the Cavaliers were listening and they responded by making a statement which is sure to send a deafening cry across the landscape of college lacrosse.
Villanova, the CAA Champions and 11-5 entering today's contest were riding high with confidence. They knew that Delaware had shocked Virginia in the first round two years ago at Klockner Stadium.
They knew that Virginia's offense had been struggling as of late.
They knew they had a chance, and they soon knew that chance was gone the second these Cavaliers took the field.
Words cannot express the systematic destruction of Villanova perpetrated by Virginia.
It was like they had literally run face-first into a buzz saw.
The Cavaliers wasted no time in dispatching Villanova, scoring nine goals in the first quarter and taking an 18-0 lead into the fourth before benching practically the entire team and probably a few water boys.
In the first half, Virginia had 31 shots, Villanova had 5.
Virginia, a team that needs to improve its face-off percentage, won nine out of 10 in the first quarter.
That led to fast break opportunities which included a 7-0 run in five minutes to put the game out of reach before it had barely started.
Virginia played with an aggressiveness and a chip on their shoulder that Cavalier fans had so desperately been asking for this season.
The stars came out in this performance as well. "Big Shot" Brian Carroll had five goals on the day followed by senior captain Danny Glading with four.
Freshman sensation and ACC Rookie of the Year Steele Stanwick continued his stellar play with three goals and two assists while the Bratton twins, Shamel and Rhamel, both scored a goal.
Watching the Cavaliers today was like seeing a well-oiled machine at work. It was cold, calculated and ruthless. For Villanova, it may have been a nightmare but for Cavalier fans it was a dream come true.
Virginia has always had the offensive weapons to be lethal this season and today showed what can happen when these players all work well together.
After all, Villanova is far from a slouch.
The Wildcats are ranked fourth nationally in goals allowed. Virginia passed that average in the first 13 minutes.
Overall they are ranked in the top 20 and were playing with a great deal of confidence with the CAA Player of the Year in goal.
Virginia's dominant effort may have exorcised a few demons from their previous game, but the road to the Final Four is far from over.
Next up for the Cavaliers will be long-time rival Johns Hopkins.
To say these two have had some epic tournament games would be quite the understatement.
Both of these programs are proven winners and the Cavaliers were able to pull off the 16-15 victory earlier this season in Baltimore.
Virginia will have to travel up to Maryland once more and deal not only with a hostile crowd but a team that is riding an impressive winning streak.
Scoring will not come easily for the Cavaliers in this contest; talent alone will not be enough.
Virginia has to be able to get fast-break opportunities, they have to continue to upgrade their defensive pressure and they cannot commit unforced turnovers.
Will the Cavaliers continue their impressive playoff run and reach the Final Four for the 20th time in school history?
That remains to be decided, but one thing is certain.
No matter the victor, rest assured it should be another game for the ages.
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