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Weight of season-ending NCAA loss still lingers after long stint at No. 1

Big Red defeat No. 1 Virginia in third round; emotional season sets stage for 2010

	<p>All-American Danny Glading led the Cavaliers to a 13-1 season. His career ended in disappointment, however, after a 16-5 loss to Cornell in the <span class="caps">NCAA</span> tournament. His loss leaves a big hole to fill on offense. Photo by: Bennett Sorbo</p>

All-American Danny Glading led the Cavaliers to a 13-1 season. His career ended in disappointment, however, after a 16-5 loss to Cornell in the NCAA tournament. His loss leaves a big hole to fill on offense. Photo by: Bennett Sorbo

Because the Virginia men's lacrosse team spent the preseason atop most of the polls, subsequently posted a 13-1 season and entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed, it has been difficult for some team members not to express disappointment after failing to capture the championship.\n"It's a season I'll look back on that the kids and the staff did a good job," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "At the same time, I'll tell you that quite frankly, we were certainly disappointed by the end of it and by our performance on the last day. These are the kind of things you hope to learn from and do it better the next time around."\nThe Cavaliers finished just two wins short of a national championship when they fell 15-6 to the Big Red in the third round of the NCAA tournament.\n"I'm still not completely over the end of the season for us," Starsia said. "I think we were all disappointed in our performance against Cornell in the semifinals. You spend your summer wracking your brain trying to figure out why one thing happens or another."\nCornell and Virginia met early in the regular season in Charlottesville for a game in which the Cavaliers notched an impressive 14-10 victory against the Big Red. It seemed that, heading into its semifinal matchup, Virginia would cruise past Cornell with the momentum it had built up during the tournament's first two rounds. After devastating Villanova in the first round, the Cavaliers handed Johns Hopkins its worst loss in the history of the NCAA tournament.\n"I think in athletics there aren't always simple explanations," Starsia said. "Coming off our performances against Villanova and Hopkins in the first two rounds, I certainly felt we were ready and prepared to play that semifinal game, and I'm not sure I would have changed anything going into the game. We just didn't play at the level we needed to, certainly against an inspired Cornell team."\nEven before the NCAA tournament, Duke dashed Virginia's hopes for an undefeated season in the Cavalier's second-to-last game of the regular season.\n"They are the type of team that can definitely play with our team," junior goalie Adam Ghitelman said. "They have athletes, like us, at every position ... they play great team defense and team offense. Virginia lacrosse sometimes, the way we play - if a team gets to you sometimes - it doesn't go in your favor. Just because we are so run-and-run and they are just very ... system-based."\nTwo games later the Blue Devils also derailed Virginia's shot at an ACC championship, dominating the Cavaliers 16-5 - their worst loss of the season.\n"Sometimes it gets a little overshadowed by the very end of the season," Starsia said. "We had a terrific season overall. We had some wonderful moments. For an athletic team to be No. 1 in most of the pre-season polls and be seeded No. 1 going into the NCAA tournament speaks directly to the quality of the effort overall over the four months of the season. On top of what this team went through in the fall with Will Barrow's passing - it was a very emotional season overall for us."\nThe emotional season included four games decided by one goal - an away win against then-No. 1 Syracuse, another away victory against Johns Hopkins, a seven-overtime win against Maryland and a win in the Meadowlands against North Carolina.\nThe Cavaliers must now begin to prepare for next season - without graduated senior attackmen Danny Glading and Garrett Billings.\n"We are going to be a lot more midfield-oriented with that new attack coming in," Ghitelman said. "Guys are going to have to prove themselves and compete for those three spots. So we'll be young at attack but we'll be very experienced at midfield"

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