The Washington Times - April 14, 2012, 01:13PM

A few observations from Virginia’s 13-5 loss to Duke last night. …

1. C.J. Costabile dominated the middle of the field. The Duke long pole’s faceoff numbers were unremarkable: 10-for-19. But Virginia was hardly assured of an extended possession even after winning a draw, and Costabile had plenty to do with that.

SEE RELATED:


Ultimately, the Cavaliers could never string together a run of more than two goals, and much of it stemmed from an inability to generate any offense off the faceoff. For that, Costabile deserves plenty of credit.

2. The Cavaliers couldn’t handle a highly active Duke defense. It seemed like every Virginia pass and every groundball in the Duke end was ferociously contested. The Blue Devils swarmed all night, creating headaches for the Cavaliers who seemed unable to handle such pressure.

Virginia coach Dom Starsia said his team tried to replicate Duke’s style of play in practice, but that’s hardly an easy task.

“They didn’t really slide early to Steele [Stanwick],” Starsia said. “They just let the kid who was covering stretch out and make him catch the ball on the end line with someone on his hands and make him work for everything he got. That was what we needed to do. If we had been prepared to play hard for 60 minutes, I think we wear them down a little at that end of the field. We just didn’t have the gumption to be able to really make them work at the defensive end and pay for the pressure they were putting on us.”

3. Virginia’s young midfielders struggled mightily. Production from sophomore Rob Emery and freshman Ryan Tucker has meant plenty to the Cavaliers throughout the season. The pair was 0-for-8 with a combined four turnovers last night.

Both figure to bounce back – Emery, in particular, has enjoyed a consistent season, while Tucker has contributed plenty in his first season – but Friday illustrated just how important the pair is to the Cavaliers’ long-term prospects.

4. Rob Fortunato kept the Cavaliers in the game. As lopsided as things wound up, it was easy to forget Virginia went into the break down only 4-2. Much of the credit goes to goalie Rob Fortunato, who had 10 saves at halftime and received solid help from his close defense.

Fortunato, who was peppered with shots in the second half, finished with 16 saves.

5. The Duke question will linger over Virginia a while longer. For whatever reason, Virginia struggles mightily with Duke. The Cavaliers have dropped 12 of their last 13 meetings with the Blue Devils.

Some of that is a function of facing a good team. Duke has reached the final four in six of the last seven seasons and won the national title in 2010. But Virginia has six trips to Memorial Day weekend in that span, too.

The Cavaliers have solved many opponents in that span, just not Duke. Every time the Blue Devils rout Virginia, it only adds to the puzzle of why the series remains so lopsided.

Patrick Stevens