Virginia won’t have Rhamel Bratton for Sunday’s NCAA opener against Bucknell. It also won’t have much depth in the midfield.
The seventh-seeded Cavaliers (9-5) will go with the same first midfield that played in the regular season finale against Penn —- Colin Briggs (22 goals, 12 assists), Rob Emery (10 goals, four assists) and John Haldy (six goals, seven assists).
The only other available midfielder on the roster with more than five goals (Mark Cockerton) will anchor the second line.
Just don’t expect to see the reserves much against the Bison (14-2).
“The way it has gone, we’re not as deep as we were otherwise,” coach Dom Starsia said. “That midfield of Briggs, Emery and Haldy is going to play most of the minutes. On the second midfield [against] Penn, we got a goal out of Cockerton and a goal out of [Matt] Kugler, so that second group is capable. But the first group is going to be on the field a lot.”
Bratton was suspended for the April 30 date with Penn, his second suspension of the season. His brother, Shamel Bratton, was dismissed from the team late last month.
Rhamel Bratton, who has 17 goals and five assists in his senior season, could return for the quarterfinals if Virginia advances Sunday.
“The plan is to have him with us and not be on the active roster,” Starsia said. “If things go according to plan, he could rejoin us next week.”
Until then, Virginia will deal with being short-handed —- even if it means relying heavily on one midfield unit.
“You gotta do what you gotta do,” Starsia said. “We are who we are. That’s who we are right now.”
—- Patrick Stevens