CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—Senior Garrett Billings tied his career high with five goals to lead Virginia to a 13-7 season-opening win over Drexel before a crowd of 2347 fans on a gloriously sunny afternoon at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers’ win is their second in a row over Drexel after getting upset in the season opener two years ago in Charlottesville.
Virginia dominated from the start and pounded Drexel goalie Mark Manos, making his collegiate debut, with 30 shots in the first half. Six different players scored as Virginia built a 7-0 lead after 22 minutes of play. Midfielder Brian Carroll opened the scoring by taking a pass in front from freshman Steele Stanwick and beating Manos for the goal. Stanwick’s assist came on the first offensive touch of his career.
Shamel Bratton scored from 12 yards a short time later and Danny Glading closed the first quarter scoring with a nifty dodge from X that beat Manos and gave the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead after 15 minutes of action.
The onslaught continued with quick goals by Stanwick and Gavin Gill early in the second quarter. Billings scored back-to-back goals six seconds apart as Virginia’s lead grew to 7-0 at the 8:27 mark of the second quarter. His second goal came on a fastbreak feed from faceoff man Chad Gaudet, a Dartmouth transfer using his final year of eligibility with the Cavaliers. For the game Gaudet won 12 of 21 faceoffs and finished with a game-high eight ground balls.
Sophomore midfielder Kevin Stockel scored Drexel’s first goal with three minutes and 47 seconds left in the half as Virginia held a 7-1 lead at the break. With Virginia maintaining a huge advantage in possession time Drexel was able to take just five shots in the first half.
“I never thought we gave the play away,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia about his team’s performance after building the early bulge. “I thought our discipline broke down a little bit. I thought we took some fouls we didn’t need to. At the end of the day we might have rushed a couple of shots, but I thought that we were always carrying the play.”
Stockel scored in the opening minute of the second half and was followed a short time later by Scott Perri’s goal as the Dragons drew within four at 7-3 but were unable to get any closer.
“That’s a good offensive lacrosse team,” Starsia said regarding Drexel’s ability to score. “They’ve got six experienced guys all back there on offense and given some opportunities they’re going to get a couple. I assumed they were going to claw back into the game a little bit. I was pleased that we were able to get goals when we needed it, and I did feel like we could defend them if we had to.”
Midfielder George Huguely and Billings answered Drexel’s goals as the Cavaliers scored five of the next six to extend the lead to 12-4 in the opening minute of the final quarter. Two of Drexel’s final three goals were on extra-man as the Cavaliers were penalized seven times in the game.
Adam Ghitelman returned to the starting line-up in goal and made six saves before being replaced late by Mark Wade.
Ken Clausen shut down Colin Ambler, Drexel’s leading returning scorer, limiting him to just one assist and 0-for-3 shooting.
The Cavaliers have a quick turnaround and face Bryant University Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium. The Bulldogs, coached by former Duke head coach Mike Pressler, are making their Division I debut in the game.
Virginia vs. Drexel