Seeking seven straight road-opener wins, the Virginia men's lacrosse team travels to Long Island today to face off against Stony Brook. The game will be Stony Brook's season opener and offers an ideal setting for revenge against a Virginia team (2-0) which ousted the Seawolves in the NCAA quarterfinals last season.
"[This is] A team that we beat in the NCAA quarterfinals by a couple last year in front of a packed house at our stadium - we're going to have our hands full with those guys," coach Dom Starsia said. "They've got everybody back. We're also going to be their first game, but this will be fun."
Stony Brook ranks as the No. 5 team in the country, but Virginia has solidified its No. 1 ranking during its first two games. While blowing out Mount St. Mary's 22-6 and defeating Drexel 12-9, Virginia has attempted at least 10 shots each period. The Cavaliers are also averaging more than 52 ground balls per game. Virginia has averaged 11.5 more ground balls than their opponents during the first two periods and managed to win a majority of the faceoffs during the first half.
Yet, to Steele Stanwick, junior attackman and a preseason first-team All-American, one of the most important things Virginia has done is gotten off to a quick start.
"I think it all starts with the ground balls and faceoffs," Stanwick said. "We really did a great job getting the loose balls, and those always equal goals. I think at the very beginning we were just really good on loose balls ... that really helped us off to a great start."
Although Stony Brook has not played a game yet, it will pose a challenging test for the Cavaliers. The Seawolves were unanimous picks to win the America East Conference and return their captain, senior midfielder Kevin Crowley, Lacrosse Magazine's Division I Preseason Player of the Year. Crowley recently was drafted first overall in the collegiate draft - one of four Seawolves drafted. The midfielder was named player of the year in the America East and recorded 51 goals and 26 assists last season.
Crowley will complicate matters for the Cavaliers. Stanwick, however, is keeping his analysis of the game simple.
"We got Stony Brook on Saturday," Stanwick said. "We're going up to Long Island. They almost beat us there last year, so it should be a great game"