The Virginia men's lacrosse team travels to Syracuse Friday for a 6 p.m. clash between the country's top ranked teams. Both Virginia (4-0) and Syracuse (2-0) garnered 175 points in the latest USILA Coaches Poll, marking only the second time since 1973 that two teams were tied atop the USILA rankings.
Virginia has claimed six of the last seven meetings between the two teams, with each of the last four games being decided by one goal. The Carrier Dome provides one of the most raucous atmospheres in college lacrosse, and Friday's titanic matchup likely will draw the stadium's largest lacrosse crowd of the year. A crowd of 16,595 witnessed the last meeting between the two squads at the Carrier Dome, a Feb. 27, 2009 game during which then-No. 2 Virginia topped then-No. 1 Syracuse 13-12.
"This is kind of the fun of our sport is playing games like this," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "To go up to the Dome, we anticipate a big crowd up there, these are always pretty wild in the early part of the season. I know it's something everybody's looking forward to."
Syracuse will look to add to its momentum that it began to build following a testy 11-9 triumph against Army Sunday afternoon. After grabbing an 8-1 second-quarter lead, the Orange failed to score for the next 26 minutes and eventually allowed Army to close the gap to 10-9 during the fourth quarter. With less than two minutes to play, sophomore attackman JoJo Morasco - the team's points leader with nine on the season - evaded the defense for more than a minute before dishing to senior midfielder Jeremy Thompson, who fired a shot into the net to extend his team's lead to 11-9.
Senior goalkeeper John Galloway tallied nine saves in the contest en route to recording his 46th career win. A victory against Virginia would put him in a tie with Jay Pfeifer for most career wins at Syracuse.
Virginia senior goalie Adam Ghitelman, meanwhile, passed a milestone of his own during Monday's 22-6 victory against VMI, as his 41st career win made him the winningest goalkeeper in school history. His team seeks to build off a dominating performance against the Keydets, who failed to release a shot during the second quarter on their way to a 12-1 halftime deficit. Twelve different players scored for the Cavaliers, who were led by junior attackman Steele Stanwick and junior attackman Chris Bocklet with seven points apiece. Starsia took advantage of his team's first-half cushion by mixing up a variety of lineups in the game's later stages. Freshman midfielder Pat Harbeson and redshirt freshman midfielder Jacob Ghitelman notched their first career goals, while senior midfielder John Haldy and redshirt sophomore midfielder Brian McLinden scored their first goals of the season.
Stanwick - who leads the team with 23 points thus far this year - was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Week for the games played through Sunday. He amassed eight goals and seven assists during a two-game stretch that saw the Cavaliers pulverize Mount St. Mary's 22-6 and edge No. 5 Stony Brook 11-10. His goal with 44 seconds remaining in overtime staved off a potential comeback by the Seawolves, who trailed 11-9 with 22 seconds left in regulation.
Virginia hopes to carry its tough road experience against Stony Brook into Syracuse, where the Orange will be out for revenge in front of its sizeable home crowd.
"It's the most exciting game on the calendar," Bocklet said. "It's two offensively fast teams. It's going to be up-and-down. And I think this momentum going into the game is really going to help us. Having that game against Stony Brook where we were up three and they come back and battle and put it into OT, it makes it exciting. That's the experience we're going to have because it's going to come down to the fourth quarter"