Virginia vs. Penn State
April 26, 2003
The Game Story:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA-The homestanding Virginia Cavaliers jumped to an early 5-0 lead and held off Penn State for an 11-10 win in men's lacrosse action at Klöckner Stadium this afternoon. The loss ended Penn State's five-game winning streak, but marks its sixth one-goal game of the season. The Nittany Lions fall to 6-6 overall, while the Cavaliers improve to 10-2 with their fifth victory in a row.

"It wasn't a beautiful game," said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. "It was a hard fought win against a good team. It was a gutsy win, kind of a gut check for us, and I'm very happy to get the win. We made it hard on ourselves. We kept giving the ball away and they converted those chances. But against a team like this, and coming off the ACC Tournament, it was certainly a game we wanted to get."

Early on the Cavaliers looked as if they would post a convincing win and atone for last season's 13-8 upset in State College. Freshman Matt Ward scored three goals in the opening 11 minutes to help stake Virginia to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter. John Christmas and Billy Glading, MVP of last week's ACC Tournament, also tallied for UVa in the period.

But the Nittany Lions, fighting for a potential playoff berth, had other ideas. Freshman John Eremus made the Cavaliers pay for a pair of penalties with two extra-man goals to get the Lions on the board. Fellow freshman Nate Whitaker then scored both of his goals in a two-and-a-half minute span to cut Virginia's lead to 5-4 late in the second.

Again the Cavaliers looked like they might run away with things as two goals by Joe Yevoli and Christmas' second of the game in a span of 42 seconds pushed the lead to 8-4. Penn State's Will Cutler and UVa's A.J. Shannon traded goals in the final minute of the half as Virginia went to the locker room with a 9-5 lead.

Penn State trimmed UVa's lead to 9-7 with extra man goals by Eremus and freshman Chris Gannett to open the second half scoring. Ward scored his fourth on an unsettled situation with less than five minutes to go in the period, but again the Lions rallied. Eremus continued his effective offensive play by assisting on goals by Will Cutler and Marc Young as Virginia held a slim 10-9 lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

Both teams had trouble maintaining sustained possessions through much of the fourth quarter before Shannon scored an extra-man goal to push UVa's lead to two at 11-9. PSU's Mike Jacober scored his fifth goal of the season to account for the game's final tally. The Nittany Lions had a chance to tie the score in the final minute but Brett Hughes knocked down Luke Ogelsby's pass from X and defenseman David Burman scooped up the ground ball as Virginia ran off the final 17 seconds of the game.

Both goalies, alums of St. Mary's High School in Annapolis, Md., were outstanding in the cage. Penn State senior Chris Garrity recorded 20 saves, his second-highest total of the season. Virginia junior Tillman Johnson turned back 15 shots, his eighth double-digit performance in a row.

Ward led the Cavaliers with four goals and an assist, his first goals in three games. Yevoli finished with two goals and two assists and Christmas had two goals and one assist.

Eremus ended a six-game scoreless streak in a big way with a career-high three goals and two assists to pace the Nittany Lion attack. Cutler and Whitaker both scored twice.

The Cavaliers return to action against Denver this Monday at home at 7 pm, while Penn State hosts Ohio State next Saturday at 2:30 pm.