The machine that is Virginia lacrosse capped off it’s undefeated season with a 15-7 victory of UMass, crowning the Cavaliers 2006 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Champions. With Doc Schneider playing out of his mind for the first half, UMass kept it close, but eventually UVa’s firepower proved too much too often. Behind five goals from both Matt Poskay and Matt Ward, the Cavaliers rode off with their fourth NCAA Championship.
A championship game record 47,062 fans attended the game.
Matt Poskay opened up the scoring on the day. His first goal set a new Virginia scoring record for a middy. The goal came as Kyle Dixon drove, drew the slide, and threw across his body to an open Poskay who set and fired high.
Both goalies looked sharp in the first making some solid saves. UMass’ Doc Schneider grew sharper as the game went on. He made a myriad of impressive saves that kept UMass right there with UVa for the first half.
“Doc Schneider is as solid as any goalie in the country,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said after the game.
UMass tied the score at 1-1. Clay Stabert worked an inside roll on his man and beat UVa keeper Kip Turner low. Poskay tallied another goal when Danny Glading drove from around the cage, then doubled back and hit Poskay for the off-angle goal.
The next UVa goal came in typical up-tempo style. Defenseman Matt Kelly blocked a shot with his head. The Cavaliers grabbed the loose ball and pushed it down field. They executed a perfect fast break, ending when Ben Rubeor hit Danny Glading for the goal.
Virginia capped off their first quarter scoring when Ward caught a pass from Garrett Billings. Ward scored as Schneider was caught out of net, giving UVa a 4-1 lead.
The second quarter belonged to UMass. Working on the wing, Sean Morris hit a cutting Rory Pedrick for the goal. On the ensuing faceoff, longstick Jake Deane scooped up the loose ball, carried down field and scored.
Virginia couldn’t be kept quiet all quarter though. Matt Ward wrapped around the cage and got an awkward deflection to drop for the goal. UMass answered right back though. Good ball movement eventually ended when Jamie Yaman threw a feed from the top of the box to Jim Connolly for the score. The half ended with UMass trailing by just a goal, 5-4.
UMass tied the score early in the third. Pat Larmon hit Brett Garber who fired high and hard, beating Turner. But in the second half UVa had all the answers. Drew Thompson fed Matt Ward in tight for the finish. Schneider thwarted good chances for UVa by making some huge saves. First he blocked a low shot, then on the chaos for the rebound, he dove across the cage stuffing another attempt. Virginia eventually added an EMO goal from Kyle Dixon.
d UMass got it back to a one-goal game, when Morris hit a cutting Yaman. No one slid to Yaman, so he threw a few fakes and scored. That was the closest UMass would get.
Poskay added another goal when he caught a pass on the wing from Glading and ripped a shot with very little angle for the EMO score. About 30 seconds later Dixon would add another, firing high and hard and beating Schneider.
Crisp passing by the Cavaliers resulted in another goal. Working the ball around the cage, Rubeor hit Poskay standing off the crease for the finish. Ward added another off an assist from Ricky Smith. At the end of the third the Cavaliers had taken over the game, leading 11-6.
Poskay got his fifth and final goal as he cut down the middle, caught a pass from Thompson, and buried a shot over Schneider. Ward then tallied his fifth, also off a Thompson assist.
“I had a good stroke and I was able to finish,” Poskay said after the game.
UMass grabbed their final goal of the afternoon when Jake Deane grabbed the loose ball off the faceoff and hit Pat Larmon. Larmon buried a shot as two sliding Cavs hammered him.
Ben Rubeor scored the final two goals of the day. The first came off an assist from Glading. He got the next working in and getting off a shot just before getting crunched by a sliding Minuteman.
With talent at all six positions, UVa easily killed off the last 2.5 minutes of the game. When the final ticks of the clock ran out, UVa won 15-7, a convincing win to cap an impressive season.
In their typical style, Virginia dominated the groundball war, faceoffs, and shots. Schneider’s 17 saves dwarfed Turner’s six, but the relentless attack of the Cavaliers was too much, despite how sharp he played.
With the team not expected to advance very far in this tournament, UMass has to take losing in the final as perhaps a moral victory. Though the loss hurts, spirits have to be high for fighting this hard this far.
“I thought our guys fought back,” Cannella said. “We have a lot to be proud of.”
As the season went on, Virginia’s quest for a championship seemed to gain more strength. “One of the themes we had was to get better every day,” Ward said. “I know as a team, each week we got better.”
Better is an understatement. Week-in and week-out this team crushed opponents, becoming the first team to go 17-0, and one of the most dominating teams ever. The offense shot the lights out of opponents, and the defense disrupted and domineered those that came against them. Some have even described this Virginia season as perfect.
“I hesitate to use the word perfect for anything I’m involved with,” Cavalier coach Dom Starsia joked after the game, though he conceded a little to what his team did. “It’s a very special moment for this team and Virginia lacrosse.”
|Matt Ward||(5, 0)|
|Matt Poskay||(5, 0)|
|Ben Rubeor||(2, 2)|
|Danny Glading||(1, 3)|
|Drew Thompson||(0, 3)|
|Kyle Dixon||(2, 1)|
|Ricky Smith||(0, 1)|
|Garrett Billings||(0, 1)|
|Kip Turner||6 (0.462)|