The Washington Times - April 7, 2011, 01:33PM

Shamel Bratton is eligible to play Saturday when Virginia (7-3, 0-1 ACC) plays host to North Carolina (7-3, 1-1) at Klockner Stadium, coach Dom Starsia said.

Bratton was suspended for Saturday’s 12-7 loss to Maryland, a punishment Starsia deemed indefinite at the time. It was Bratton’s second suspension of the season.

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“He is eligible to play and is likely to,” Starsia said.

Virginia has tumbled to No. 9 in both polls after losing consecutive games for the first time since the end of the 2007 season. The Cavaliers play No. 8 North Carolina and No. 4 Duke in the next two weeks, but remain in solid shape to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament.

A two-time first-team all-America pick, Bratton ranks in the top five among midfielders in Virginia history in goals, assists and points. The senior has 17 goals and seven assists in eight games this season.

Bratton was also suspended for Virginia’s Feb. 26 victory at Stony Brook for a violation of team rules.

“Nobody is feeling sorry for me,” Starsia said. “I’m involved in the education business. If this was a professional sport, this would be different. My job is to help these kids grow up. Kids can make it easy and they can make it hard. It sort of comes with the territory.”

Patrick Stevens