- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2006

Virginia coach Dom Starsia talked to his team Tuesday and not-so-subtly alluded to the Cavaliers’ final game last season, an overtime loss to Johns Hopkins.

He probably didn’t need to.

Starsia’s top-ranked Cavaliers (8-0) face No. 10 Hopkins (3-2) today for the first time since that spring afternoon in Philadelphia. A victory today in Charlottesville would give Virginia its first sweep of Syracuse, Princeton and Hopkins since 1996. But it probably would have some added meaning to holdovers from last year’s team.

“We were finishing up, and almost tongue in cheek I said, ‘You know, revenge is kind of a hollow motive. We don’t need that,’ ” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “[Defenseman] Mike Culver sidles up to me and says, ‘I hear you, but we have to have this one.’ ”

The Cavaliers almost had it last year, when they took an 8-7 lead on Hopkins with 12.9 seconds remaining. Yet attackman Jake Byrne scored with 1.9 seconds left to tie it, and the Blue Jays won in overtime.

It was only the latest tight game between the two teams. The last five meetings have been decided by a combined seven goals, and today could be quite similar if Hopkins can dictate the pace and prevent the potent Cavaliers from monopolizing possession.

“You’re playing Hopkins, it was a painful loss and you are who you are,” Starsia said. “I think it’ll just add to a ferocious game between two good teams. I’m sure they feel like it’s a game they need to come in and win. This is always an opportunity we’re ready for.”

Terps on the run

No. 4 Maryland’s 14-2 mauling of Dartmouth on Tuesday provided some hints the Terrapins (5-1) might be more willing to run than last season.

Sophomore defenseman Joe Cinosky scored on a 14-yard dart in the first quarter, the highlight of a renewed emphasis on scoring in unsettled situations.

“We’ve felt like we haven’t been getting transition goals, so that’s a big goal for us,” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. “We’ve been working on that for the last two weeks. That’s an area we think we can improve on.”

Maryland traditionally uses its staunch defense to generate offense, and it is little surprise the Terps are starting to do so again now that it has an experienced group of close defensemen. Transition goals have become more important in the last decade as teams have improved their six-on-six schemes as Maryland was reminded March 14 when it lost 7-6 to Bucknell.

“We’ve had transition, but we haven’t finished,” senior attackman Joe Walters said. “[Against Dartmouth] we had a long-pole get a goal, and we had a few other chances. Transition is a big part of the game these days.”

Carolina blues

North Carolina lost much of its offense and the starting goalie from a team that stumbled to a 5-8 season, and it faces arguably the most brutal schedule in the country.

Still, it would have been difficult to imagine the Tar Heels bringing a six-game losing streak (the team’s longest since the program was revived in 1964) into tomorrow’s meeting with No. 4 Maryland in Chapel Hill.

“The key here is we need to win,” North Carolina coach John Haus said. “We haven’t won since the second game of the season. We feel we’re a really good team, too. We’re just going to try to play hard, and we’re going to have to do that in order to beat the University of Maryland.”

Carolina (2-6) started its slide with a loss at Denver, then was blown out at home by Penn and Navy. Road losses to Notre Dame, Hofstra and Duke ensued, leaving the Tar Heels with six losses to top-14 teams.

The looming schedule is merciless, with a trip to No. 10 Johns Hopkins and a visit from No. 1 Virginia coming in the next two weeks.

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