No one is likely to underestimate Virginia in the NCAA lacrosse tournament.
Not with three national titles since 1999.
Not with three straight final four appearances.
Not with a posse of offensive talent, even without dismissed midfielder Shamel Bratton.
Still, the Cavaliers (9-5) enter the postseason as quietly as they have in some time. They were dealt the No. 7 seed and will host Patriot League champ Bucknell (14-2) on Sunday at Klockner Stadium.
The winner will meet either second-seeded Cornell or Hartford in the quarterfinals at Hofstra on May 21.
“It’s certainly a little different for us,” coach Dom Starsia said during a teleconference after the selection show. “If we were seeded 1 or 2, I would say we’re proud of being there. I’ve always felt that way. I don’t think there’s any way we’ll sneak up on anyone, but it’s not often we get to step into the shadows a little bit.”
The teams aren’t especially familiar in ultra-competitive situations. It will be the first time the schools have met in the postseason, and their last game came in 1998.
However, Bucknell scrimmaged Virginia before this season, so they have seen each other at some point.
Starsia said his staff did not scout the Patriot League final between the Bison and Colgate in person last weekend, though the DVD of it was already in the Cavaliers’ office late Sunday.
It and other tapes will be scoured in the days to come. After all, the Cavaliers will hardly be overlooked by an opponent making its first postseason appearance since 2003.
“We’re still in the favorite role in the first-round game,” Starsia said. “We’ll have our hands full with Bucknell. … It’s a one-game season.”
—- Patrick Stevens