May 15, 2010

By Shane Mettlen
Special to NCAA.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - It would have been hard to fault Adam Ghitelman if the Virginia goalie had come out a little rusty on Saturday.

After all, a two-week layoff - particularly one filled with as much grief and heartache as the Virginia Cavaliers have experienced - can wreak havoc on a goalie trying to ride momentum into the postseason. Yet somehow, Virginia's man in the cage seemed unaffected.

Ghitelman played the first three quarters in Virginia's 18-4 dismantling of Mount St. Mary's, stopping nine shots and allowing only two goals. The teams played nearly 45 minutes before The Mount was able to score against Ghitelman, at even strength.

"Everyday in practice I face the best shooters in the nation so it's not really a layoff," Ghitelman said. "I'm tested every day by these guys surrounding me. It was nice to come out and play against Mount St. Mary's today."

Ghitelman, a junior from Syosset, N.Y., has had an up-and-down career with the Cavaliers, but late in the season has been showing why he came out of Cold Spring Harbor High School as the nation's top goalie recruit.

He earned the starting job at the beginning of his freshman season in 2008, but was replaced after 10 games by senior Bud Petit. Last season, Ghitelman was a star at times - earning National Player of the Week honors after a seven-overtime win over Maryland and coming up huge in a win at Syracuse. But he also struggled in a pair of losses to Duke and a season-ending national semifinal loss to Cornell.

But this season, Ghitelman picked it up as the season reached crunch time. He was phenomenal in ACC Tournament wins over Duke and Maryland, earning MVP honors after recording 28 saves and even scoring a goal on a 60-yard shot.

He followed that up with another fantastic performance, stopping seven shots in the regular-season finale victory against Robert Morris.

Saturday, Virginia coach Dom Starsia had nothing but praise for his goalkeeper, who had to make a pair of early saves after Mount St. Mary's won the opening faceoff.

"I though Adam played very well," he said. "Actually, I thought the goalies on both ends of the field played very well throughout. Adam kept them off the board early in the game. That might have changed the beginning of the game the way it started."

The top-seeded Cavaliers know that if they are to win their fifth national championship, they'll need to have Ghitelman continue his hot streak in the cage.

"One thing that is great about our team is that we have a lot of X-factors at multiple positions," Virginia senior defenseman and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Ken Clausen said. "But Adam has been rock solid. "He gives the whole team a boost and I think that's one position where he can lift everybody on the field, not just our defense, but also our offense. I think he's playing his best lacrosse since he's been here. He's just been tremendous."

Clausen noted that Ghitelman hasn't just helped the team by making saves, he's also arguably the best clearing goalie in the nation.

"Especially with our style of play," Clausen said. "He gets the ball, makes a save and pushes it up and out and our offense can try to create something in transition. He's just been outstanding and I don't think we could ask anything more of him up to this point."