- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 18, 2006

After a miserable 2004, the Virginia lacrosse team was an overtime goal away from the national title game last spring.

There’s little to suggest the Cavaliers won’t at least get that far again.

Virginia (11-4 in 2005), which opens the season this afternoon at Drexel, returns the bulk of an offense that has played well in preseason tests against Navy and Georgetown. But the Cavs also will use several freshmen as they chase their third national title since 1999.

“We’re older and wiser,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “Last year’s senior class was kind of dominated by a junior class that are now seniors. We have a level of experience and we have an interesting mix here. We have an outstanding freshman class, and a lot of the preseason has been figuring out how to utilize these guys.”

Attackman Matt Ward (38 goals) is a four-year starter and will be joined by sophomore Ben Rubeor, who played on two sprained ankles last season, and freshman Danny Glading. The first midfield line of Kyle Dixon, Matt Poskay and Drew Thompson remained intact. Thompson also will split faceoffs with Charlie Glazer.

One of Starsia’s few concerns is generating transition opportunities because of some defensive inexperience. Defenseman Steve Holmes was declared academically ineligible late last year, leaving freshmen Mike Timms and Matt Kelly to start with veterans Mike Culver and Ricky Smith.

That could put some pressure on goalie Kip Turner. However, none of Virginia’s first four opponents reached the NCAA tournament last year, giving it some time to develop before Syracuse visits Charlottesville on March4.

“We haven’t played perfectly, and I wouldn’t expect that we would,” Starsia said. “I think we’re anxious — ready may be a stretch — but anxious and probably as ready as we can be.”

Hurting Hoyas

Georgetown must be thankful it doesn’t open the regular season for another week.

The Hoyas (10-5 in 2005) are riddled with nagging injuries, and 10 players will probably sit out today’s scrimmage against Johns Hopkins.

“We’ve got a lot of guys to keep stats,” coach Dave Urick said.

Starting midfielders Pete Cannon (thumb) and Scott Kahoe (shoulder) are unlikely to play, though Kahoe could see some time on extra-man and both should be ready for next week’s opener against Maryland. Sophomore Matt McBride, who Urick hoped would join them on the first midfield, has a hip flexor and hasn’t practiced in pads in the preseason.

Senior defenseman Reyn Garnett finally began practicing this week as well. Garnett, who battled a herniated disc in his back last year, probably will only practice three times a week all spring as the Hoyas try to coax a full season out of him.

“It’s going to be a situation where we have to keep a close eye on him,” Urick said. “He’s pretty focused. I think common sense dictates he takes a different approach. It wasn’t easy to sell him on that, but in the long run it’ll be the wiser approach.”

McGlone ailing, too

Across town, Maryland has its share of injury-hampered players, most notably first-team All-America midfielder Bill McGlone.

The senior tweaked his left hamstring nearly three weeks ago, then rushed to return and pulled it worse on his second day back. After sitting out another week, McGlone came back only to aggravate the injury.

“I keep coming back too early because I’m too anxious to get back,” said McGlone, who scored 26 goals last year. “I’m afraid to fall behind, but now I’m thinking in the bigger picture and just trying to be ready for the season, so I’m taking it a lot slower this third time around.”

Coach Dave Cottle said McGlone will not play in today’s scrimmage against Syracuse.

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