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High-scoring Colonials visit Virginia

Nation

Sandwiched between the ACC and NCAA tournaments is Robert Morris - the Virginia men's lacrosse team last regular season opponent.

As the reigning ACC champions, the Cavaliers are entering the match on a high note, especially after reclaiming their No. 1 overall ranking following the championship game against Maryland. Nevertheless, the loss to Duke two weeks ago has kept Virginia from going in with a completely unblemished record.

But even if the Cavaliers lose to Robert Morris, they likely will retain the top spot in the NCAA Tournament. Virginia, therefore, is playing for little else other than pride. And for its seniors.

"All the seniors are excited," senior defenseman Ken Clausen said. "I think it's hard for us to believe we are at this point in the season and at this point in our careers."

And even though Robert Morris is not ranked within the top 20 NCAA teams, it is still one of the top-scoring teams in the country and thus may provide a unique challenge for Virginia.

"Its an interesting group of guys they have playing out there," senior midfielder Max Pomper said about the Colonials. "We are going to have to work to contain them. Coming out I just want to play one of my best games to end out my career."

And that game will have to live up to some of Pomper's other strong memories at Virginia. Pomper - who redshirted his first year because of injuries that prevented him from playing for most of that season - is now a fifth-year player, meaning he was on the team during the acclaimed 2006 season, when the Cavaliers went undefeated and captured a national title. Although he missed a majority of that year, Pomper said his "claim to fame" on the team is that he scored the first goal of that season.

Even so, being forced to miss most of the season was not entirely terrible, he said.

"It definitely gave me an opportunity to spend an extra year down in Charlottesville," Pomper said. "Hopefully at the end of the year when we are holding the championship trophy, I will say it was all worth it."

So Clausen and Pomper will lead the charge against the Colonials, looking to limit their run-and-gun offense.

"Anything less than our best performance on Saturday will not be satisfactory," coach Dom Starsia said, as he agreed that Robert Morris' low ranking may be deceptive.

Still, the Cavaliers may prove capable of meeting the challenge.

"When we gathered on Tuesday, the first thing I said was, 'I choose to believe we are going to play great on Saturday,'" Starsia said.

Once they finish that test, the Virginia players, coaches and fans will look ahead to the NCAA Tournament, in which the Cavaliers will have a chance to make history. The team will pull out all the stops in the pursuit of college lacrosse's ultimate goal, Starsia said.

"I told my players, 'If I asked you to stand on your head for the next five weeks, You should be happy to do that if that's what is required,'" he said.

No sacrifice, no victory.

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