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Title defense falls short

After surviving a 6-5 thriller against Princeton in the first round, the Virginia men’s lacrosse team unceremoniously exited May’s NCAA men’s lacrosse playoffs with a 12-10 quarterfinal loss to Notre Dame in Chester, Pa.

The loss snuffed out the Cavaliers’ gambit to become the first repeat men’s lacrosse national champions since Syracuse won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009.

Loyola-Maryland, the tournament’s top seed, eventually won its first lacrosse title against in-state rival Maryland in the championship game.

Despite a scintillating seven-point performance from senior attacker Steele Stanwick in his college finale, No. 5 seed Virginia (12-4, 2-1 ACC), failed to reach lacrosse’s “Final Four” for the first time since 2007.

In the first-round game against Princeton (11-5), Virginia weathered a second-half rally to overcome one of its weakest offensive outputs of the season. The Cavaliers were held scoreless in the third quarter. Junior midfielder Jeff Froccaro scored both of the quarter’s goals for the Tigers, trimming Virginia’s lead to 5-4.

But senior goaltender Rob Fortunato and the Virginia defense stiffened in the fourth, enabling senior attacker Chris Bocklet to score the clinching goal with 7:07 to go.
In the quarterfinal round against Notre Dame (13-3), the Virginia attack ripped three straight goals for what would turn out to be the team’s only lead at 4-3 with 9:08 in the second quarter.

Down the stretch, standout junior goaltender John Kemp refused to let Stanwick and company take advantage of opportunities to score, saving 14 and withstanding Virginia’s third-quarter flurry to surrender just two goals.

Tied at seven in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame reeled off a 5-1 run to take control in the 12-10 victory.

The 2012 graduating class concluded its illustrious tenure with a 56-14 record, confirming its lofty status as one of the most prolific classes in Cavalier history. Despite some key departures, coach
Dom Starsia will lead a loaded roster into 2013. Players to watch include senior midfielder Chris LaPierre — among the nation’s leaders in ground balls for a non-faceoff midfielder — and four members of the U19 World Championship winning team.