Cavaliers get back to business in win

Updated: May 16, 2010, 2:55 AM ET
Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Moments before Virginia played its first game since one of its players was charged with murder, the Cavaliers paused for a moment of silence to remember Yeardley Love, the popular member of the school's women's team who was slain two weeks ago.

Then, after a quick blip to start the game, it was business as usual for the top-seeded Cavaliers.

Virginia dominated Mount St. Mary's, 18-4, on Saturday night in the first round of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament.

"The moment of silence obviously was tough for us," said senior Mikey Thompson, one of three captains on the team. "But once that first whistle blew, we were getting to work."

And for a few hours, at least, the issues that have been all-consuming since teammate George Huguely was charged with first-degree murder in Love's death seemed far away.

"This game is almost a little bit of a distraction," said Brian Carroll, another senior captain, who scored three goals and had an assist. "While you're out there, you're focusing on the game and not thinking too much about what's going on outside the game. When we're not playing and we're not practicing, that's when I think about it the most."

Coach Dom Starsia, who missed several practices this week and only returned Thursday after his own father's funeral in New York, said winning wasn't only about lacrosse.

"I really just wanted us to win so we could have some more time," he said after a long pause. "It would really have been hard if we had to disperse right now."

The Cavaliers (15-1) never left that option open.

They wore shirts in warmups with the words "One Love" on the back, and their game jerseys had black oval patches on the front that said "Y.L.1" - Love's initials and uniform number.

After the Mountaineers made a rush toward the Virginia goal after the opening faceoff, and Cavaliers goalie Adam Ghitelman stopped the shot, it was pretty much all Virginia.

Even Mount St. Mary's coach Tom Gravante was somewhat gratified by what he saw.

"I was hopeful the UVa team -- they are No. 1 for a reason -- that they would rebound for their coach, who's a very classy guy, and play the game they did," Gravante said.

Mountaineers defender Matt Nealis agreed.

"They blew me away with how well they played," he said.

Shamel Bratton had three goals and two assists for the Cavaliers, including the first goal 3:02 into the game. Moments later, Steele Stanwick stole a pass from Mountaineers goalie T.C. DiBartolo near midfield and cruised in for an uncontested shot into an open goal.

DiBartolo arrived leading the nation in save percentage for the Mountaineers (12-5), but was no match for the crisp passing and pinpoint shooting of the bigger, faster Cavaliers. A crowd of 3,355, less than half the capacity of Klockner Stadium, roared with every goal.

At the other end, Ghitelman was allowing nothing. Virginia led 8-0 after less than 18 minutes, and Ghitelman had nine saves and allowed just two goals in the first three quarters.

"Emotionally it's been a tough ride for us," the feisty goalie said. "It's been a roller coaster. We had to step up and kind of have iron hearts this past week."

Stanwick matched his career high with five assists, and Chris Bocklet also scored three times. None played in the final quarter as Starsia was able to empty his bench.

Virginia will play next Sunday at Stony Brook, which beat Denver, 9-7, earlier in the day. The Atlantic Coast Conference champion Cavaliers are in the tournament for the 17th time in Starsia's 18 years as their coach, and seeking their fourth national title in that time.

Virginia has now won all eight of its meetings with Mount St. Mary's.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE