Virginia midfielder Shamel Bratton was dismissed from the Cavaliers’ lacrosse team Friday, closing out a decorated career that veered into a soap opera-like senior season.
Bratton, who had 20 goals and eight assists in 11 games this season, was twice a first team All-America pick.
“I want to wish Shamel the very best in his future endeavors,” coach Dom Starsia said in a statement released by the school. “He has made many contributions to the program. At the same time, there are standards of behavior within the framework of the team that we expect to be met by all of our student-athletes. Failure to do so on a consistent basis has resulted in the loss of the privilege of being a member of this team.”
Starsia uttered similar words after a 12-7 loss to Maryland on April 2, which Bratton missed because of his second one-game suspension of the season. He, along with his twin brother, Rhamel (also a senior midfielder) was also suspended for Virginia’s 11-10 overtime victory at Stony Brook on Feb. 26.
Shamel Brattan had three goals and one assist on 18 shots in three games since his last suspension.
It was hardly the finishing flourish expected from Bratton, who was a two-time high school All-American. Those skills translated into the college level; Bratton is the Virginia career leader for points from the midfield (129), ranking third among Cavalier midfielders in goals (89) and fifth in assists (40).
He had 16 goals and four assists in nine career NCAA tournament games – but never helped Virginia reach, let alone triumph, on Memorial Day in the last three years.
The Cavaliers (8-5), who have dropped four of their last five, will face that task without him next month. Their regular season finale is Saturday against Penn (8-4). When Virginia played Maryland, it bumped Colin Briggs up to the first midfield line in place of Bratton. In their most recent game, the Cavaliers stated both Brattons and Briggs, leaving John Haldy on another line.
According to LaxPower’s near-replica of the NCAA’s formulas, Virginia carries an RPI of 7 and a strength of schedule of 3 into the weekend. Toss in a top-five victory (Cornell), and the Cavaliers would appear a likely at-large pick and a possibility to host one of eight first-round games.
Dermot Coll, an Air Force associate athletic director and the chairman of the NCAA’s lacrosse committee, said Bratton’s absence would likely be noted when the selection process unfolds next weekend. But Friday’s decision will not be considered more significant than the Cavaliers’ season-long accomplishments.
“All five members of the committee are going to weigh it differently,” Coll said. “When we look at it, it’s going to be the body of work from the course of the season. They played great with him and played not-so-great with him. They were suspended against Stony Brook and still played pretty well. When you look at the resume, it’s bigger than one guy on the team.”
Coll said the committee would observe how the Cavaliers fare Saturday, but that isn’t unusual. Coll said his group has already had conference calls to begin discussions before the final weekend of the season.
“It’s no different than an injury, except with an injury you never really know,” Coll said. “If it’s a dismissal, you know he’s not going to come back. But you’ve got 35, 40 other guys that have put together a body of work and they deserve to be judge on their merits as a team.”