- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 18, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — Ben Rubeor admitted he wanted the ball in his stick at the onset of overtime in yesterday’s NCAA lacrosse quarterfinals.

The Virginia senior’s feelings might have increased tenfold when he was stripped of possession shortly into the extra session.

And without question, they were validated moments later when the attackman delivered from seven yards out to lift the second-seeded Cavaliers past No. 7 Maryland 8-7 and into the final four.

Rubeor delivered three goals to send Virginia (14-3) into a semifinal meeting with the winner of today’s Syracuse-Notre Dame game, a sterling performance that is a microcosm of the reliable senior’s career.

“When we didn’t have Ben early in the year and he was hurt, there was a big hole there,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “You could feel it. Especially as Ben has gotten stronger in the second half of the season, we look to him. It doesn’t mean anybody else is afraid to make a play. I think everybody looks over their shoulder to see where he’s going to be.”

In overtime, he was on the right wing coming out of a timeout when Maryland’s Bryn Holmes poked it away. Long pole Brian Farrell, who scored two goals for the Terrapins (10-6), cleared it to set up another timeout.

On the other sideline, Starsia’s message was basic.

“All I said was ‘Let’s give Ben another chance with the ball,’…” Starsia said.

And so Virginia did, regaining possession after the Terps sent two shots awry. Rubeor came around the cage on a pick, scooting past defenseman Ryne Adolph before beating goalie Jason Carter for the game-winner.

“An opportunity opened up,” said Rubeor, whose team is 4-0 in overtime this season. “It was one of those things that I couldn’t pass it up.”

It was an opportunity Virginia was fortunate to receive. It never led in regulation and trailed 7-4 early in the third quarter when Farrell scored for the second time. But Maryland, which dominated possession throughout the first half, could not ignite its offense after the break.

The Terps didn’t manage a goal from a short stick in the final 44:22, though they nearly snapped the drought early in the fourth quarter. Freshman Travis Reed appeared to have scored to make it 8-6 despite a Virginia loose ball push, but officials ruled a Maryland player was in the crease when the ball rolled over the goal line.

It wasn’t Maryland’s only chance against a team that stiffened behind goalie Bud Petit (14 saves) and tied it on Rubeor’s goal with 8:43 remaining. The Terps called timeout with 38 seconds left, only to have freshman Ryan Young throw it away in the closing moments.

“Uncharacteristically, we were a little tentative,” coach Dave Cottle said. “That was the most disappointing thing.”

Maryland offered a different look in its rubber matchup with the Cavaliers. Jeff Reynolds and Jeremy Sieverts were both bumped up to the first midfield in place of Drew Evans and Max Ritz, and both Reynolds and Sieverts scored in the first half.

But the Terps could not exploit a shaky first half from the Cavaliers, who could do little right in the first half and were fortunate to trail 6-4 at the break. Maryland held sizable edges in shots (26-11) and groundballs (19-2), but the young team hadn’t done enough to afford a 1-for-14 shooting performance the rest of the way.

“I thought we played our … off,” Cottle said. “This team has improved as much as any team I’ve been around. I think we have a tremendous future, but this hurts a little bit because we were in position to win this game.”

But so were the Cavaliers. And as happened so many times in the last four years, Rubeor made sure they took advantage.

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