- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 5, 2006

CHARLOTTESVILLE — When most lacrosse teams play, the possibility of a 20-15 game is nearly unfathomable.

When Virginia and Syracuse meet, it borders on typical.

Such was the case yesterday at Klockner Stadium, where the third-ranked Cavaliers rallied past the No.5 Orange 20-15 in just the latest display of offensive fireworks between the two unabashedly up-tempo programs.

Matt Poskay, Ben Rubeor, Drew Thompson and Matt Ward all scored three goals for Virginia (5-0), which erased a an early 7-4 deficit.

“You just know every year it’s going to be wild with Syracuse,” Thompson said. “Their style is just great and they’re up and down the field. It’s the way lacrosse is supposed to be played.”

The loss spoiled the return of former Virginia players Joe Yevoli and Nathan Kenney to Klockner. Yevoli, a graduate student whose anything-but-smooth departure from Virginia last summer was well publicized, scored three goals for the Orange (1-1).

Yevoli had his hat trick by the end of the first quarter, and the explosive Orange seemed ready to pull away. However, Virginia midfielder Kyle Dixon scored with 5.4 seconds left in the quarter on a goal that calmed down the Cavaliers.

“We seemed to be wired so tightly in the first quarter,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “I think with all the subplots that were going on, I don’t think we could think straight. Them jumping up on us a little bit actually slapped us a little bit and gave us a chance to catch our breath and get our feet back on the ground. We just played smarter after the first quarter.”

It helped Virginia that it enjoyed a decided possession advantage for the rest of the half. Rubeor scored from 10 yards out on a tight angle with 10 minutes left in the second quarter to put the Cavaliers up 8-7, and Virginia quickly added two more goals to provide a margin that never fell below two the rest of the way.

“That second quarter, we probably had the ball two minutes the entire time,” Yevoli said. “That was the biggest downfall today, that we didn’t have the ball.”

Not surprisingly amid the offensive maelstrom, it was a shaky day for goalies. Syracuse’s Peter Coluccini (seven saves) was yanked at the half after surrendering 13 goals in favor of Jake Myers (six saves).

Virginia made a halftime switch of its own, replacing Kip Turner (two saves) with Bud Petit (six saves).

“I keep telling all you guys that we have a second good goalie who has looked good in practice,” Starsia said. “If the occasion calls for it, you have to have the confidence to do that.

“Bud struggled a little bit going in there and he had a couple saves later. I expect we’ll get better goal play as we go along here.”

It was Virginia’s first true test after four games against teams ranked outside the top 10, and the Cavaliers impressed at least at one end of the field. Virginia effectively utilized its top seven offensive players, putting slick freshman Garrett Billings on the second midfield line at times now that Rubeor has returned after missing two games with a sprained ankle.

The Cavaliers also exposed a Syracuse defense that never entirely jelled last year as the Orange missed the final four for the first time since 1982. It’s far too early to believe Syracuse will struggle again, but it is clear its defense must improve before May.

“That’s two pretty good offenses,” Syracuse defenseman Steve Panarelli said. “I don’t think the defenses are that bad. I think there’s a lot of good defensemen out there and a lot of talent. Those offenses were hitting corners and throwing it in good spots. When people are on like that and they don’t miss their shots, there’s not much you can do.”

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