- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

BALTIMORE — Virginia lacrosse coach Dom Starsia frequently said this spring how unrealistic it would be to think his team would roll through its daunting schedule without a loss.

But after capturing the ACC tournament yesterday to cap the first undefeated regular season in program history, perfection is suddenly the expectation in Charlottesville.

Tournament MVP Michael Culver helped shut down Maryland’s Joe Walters and goalie Kip Turner made 12 saves as the Cavaliers pulled away for an 11-5 victory before 5,739 at M&T; Bank Stadium.

“You don’t talk about being undefeated and it is not a likely occurrence,” Starsia said. “When it happens, you certainly take note of it.”

Five players scored two goals each for the top-ranked Cavaliers (13-0), who shook off the No. 3 Terrapins (9-4) after some sluggish early shooting reflective of a team playing only its second game since April 8.

Virginia’s defense, though, was stingy from the start. Culver, who has helped the Cavaliers limit Walters to 1-for-31 shooting in the teams’ last four meetings, drew the assignment on the Maryland star again. Virginia frequently doubled on Walters, who missed 10 shots and endured his first game without a point since the 2003 NCAA semifinals — also against the Cavaliers.

Defenseman Ricky Smith and Virginia also silenced Xander Ritz, who went without a point for the first time since the 2004 NCAA quarterfinals.

“Kip bailed me out a number of times,” Culver said. “Frankly, I don’t think I played my best game today, but I think as a whole defensively we played really well. I’m not really sure if I was deserving of the MVP award, but I know our whole defense was today.”

The game was evidence of some improvement for the Terps, who lost to Virginia 15-5 on April 1. This time, the Terps kept it close despite never taking the lead and were within 6-4 for much of the third quarter.

However, Virginia seniors Kyle Dixon, Matt Ward and Matt Poskay scored in less than a three-minute span, a flurry for which the weary Terps had no answer.

“The first time, I walked away and said ‘Whew,’ ” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. “If it was a heavyweight fight, we got knocked out in the first quarter. This one, I didn’t feel we got knocked out. It was a decision.”

Perhaps, but it was still obvious which team was better. The Terps still must improve in order to make a run at Virginia if the teams meet again, a distinct possibility in this month’s NCAA tournament.

A third meeting might not come to fruition until the semifinals or later, though, especially if the Terps can upend No. 11 Penn on Saturday to secure a likely top-four seed.

“We felt like we needed six weeks to get better to come close to [Virginia],” Cottle said. “We have another two weeks to go.”

While the Terps have Saturday’s game to tune up for the tournament, Virginia is merely waiting for the formality of accepting the No. 1 seed during Sunday’s selection announcement. From there, the Cavaliers’ sole thought is clear: Becoming the first 17-0 team in NCAA history and winning the program’s third national title since 1999.

“I guess now, we have to,” Poskay said. “If we lose, we’re going home. That’s our next goal and that’s what we have to do because that’s what we want.”

No. 6 Navy 8, No. 18 Army 5

HAMILTON, N.Y. — Senior Jon Birsner had a goal and three assists as the Midshipmen (11-3) won their third straight Patriot League tournament and clinched an NCAA tournament berth.

William Wallace won 10 of 15 faceoffs for Navy, which defeated the Black Knights (8-6) for the 11th straight time.



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