COLLEGE PARK – At breakfast before playing Maryland Saturday, Virginia Cavaliers men’s lacrosse head coach Dom Starsia reminded his team to enjoy the time they spend playing together, even in their toughest games.
“People talk about these being workdays. To me they should be more special than that…I want us to appreciate all these different games,” he said.
Of course, winning makes it easier to do that.
It was a game Starsia said his team can be proud of.
“You’re playing Maryland, they’re coming off a loss. We’re the defending national champion, we happened to beat them in the championship game. There was plenty of motivation for them,” he said.
The Terps scored two goals in the first five minutes of the second half to open up a 7-5 lead and were poised to take control of their ACC regular season finale.
“We always look to win the first five minutes of the third quarter,” said Maryland junior midfielder Landon Carr after the game.
But Maryland couldn’t separate from Virginia enough and ran out of steam down the stretch.
The Cavaliers went on a 7-1 run over a 15 and a half minute span between the third and the fourth quarters.
Virginia’s plethora of talent — they returned seven starters from last year’s championship team — was too much for Maryland’s defense to contain for a full 60 minutes.
Stanwick didn’t score his first goal until the 6:14 mark in the third quarter, starting Virginia’s 7-1 run to win the game. Stanwick said he was content setting up his teammates for scores.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a pass first guy, but I love to get my teammates involved,” Stanwick said after the game. “I think it’s important for everyone to get touches early on and get their confidence going. I kind of sit back and see what I can do as the game goes on, let the game come to me.”
Maryland head coach John Tillman said it came down to Virginia making plays in crunch time and his counterpart agreed.
“When things aren’t going great, or there’s not a lot of sparkle out there, you just need a couple of your big boys to step up and make plays,” Starsia said after the game. “Big boys in crunch time, you want to win at this level, that’s what you gotta have. Those guys stepped up for us when that game needed to be decided late.”
The Terps offense featured different starters than usual. First-line midfielder, junior Mike Chanenchuk had an unspecified injury that limited his effectiveness. And second-line midfielder junior Kevin Cooper was suspended because of a fight during the loss to the University of North Carolina last month.
Tillman said his team really missed Cooper, who has played on the second midfield unit for two years. Under normal circumstances, he would have replaced Chanenchuk on the first midfield unit.
“The value of Kevin Cooper is very high,” Tillman said.
A lack of depth hurt Maryland down the stretch.
“The fourth quarter has not been our quarter and that’s something we take pride in…we’ve gotten a little bit tired. And obviously when you’re behind you have to force the issue a little bit,” Tillman said.
Redshirt sophomore goalie Niko Amato said he believed his young defense will respond well after two straight losses.
“Our guys are tough. they didn’t come to Maryland because they were bad players…we’re going to bounce back,” he said.
Next up for Maryland is Navy at home on Friday night.