May 15, 2010

Feature: No Chinks In The Armor Of Cavs Goalie After Whirlwind Week

By Shane Mettlen
Special to NCAA.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia fans at Klöckner Stadium exploded in an outpouring of pent up emotion after Shamel Bratton fired and scored the Cavaliers' first goal just three minutes into Saturday's men's lacrosse NCAA Division I playoff game against visiting Mount St. Mary's.

It was the first of many for the Cavs on the way to a 18-4 victory over The Mount, setting up another regular-season rematch next weekend when Virginia will travel to Stony Brook to take on the Seawolves in quarterfinal action. The top-ranked Cavaliers, now 15-1, defeated both Mount St. Mary's and Stony Brook in February.

Life at the University of Virginia and around Charlottesville was far from back to normal just 12 days after the community was rocked with the news that senior midfielder George Huguely had been charged with the murder of Virginia women's player Yeardley Love. But Bratton's goal, and the ensuing victory, was finally some cause for celebration.

"We wanted to come out hard and I thought we had a really good start," said senior captain Mikey [CQ] Thompson, who opened the game with huge hit and also scored a goal. "I was ready to get on the field. It being the seniors' last game at Klöckner, it was emotional as is, so it was a very emotional time for us."

The Cavaliers, which donned T-shirts with the words "One Love" on the back and played with Love's initials and uniform number on their jerseys, opened the game with nearly flawless play. Virginia scored in just about every way imaginable on the way to building a 12-1 halftime lead.

Less than 30 seconds after Bratton opened the scoring, sophomore attackman Steele Stanwick intercepted a pass on a Mount St. Mary's clear attempt, and shot on an empty goal to make it a 2-0 lead.

Bratton picked up his first assist of the night a few minutes later, hitting a streaking Chris Bocklet in front of the crease, giving Virginia a 3-0 lead with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter and the rout was on with the Virginia offense firing on all cylinders.

In all, 11 Cavaliers scored goals with Carroll leading the way. The senior, who has built a reputation for playing well in May, finished with three goals and an assist. Bratton and Bocklet also finished with three goals each, with Bratton also adding two assists. Stanwick had a game-high five assists to go with his early goal.

"It felt really good to get out there and play and run around and play against some guys wearing different colors," Bratton said.

On the other side of the field, Virginia's junior goalie Adam Ghitelman wasn't allowing The Mount any easy goals.

Despite a two-week layoff as Virginia finished final exams, Ghitelman - the ACC Tournament MVP - picked up right where he had left off after his stellar end to the regular season, finishing the game with nine saves in three quarters of work.

"We told our kids, there's a sleeping giant down there and that's the way (Virginia) played today," Mount St. Mary's coach Tom Gravante said. "I wouldn't be surprised one bit if they were to win it all this year."

Andrew Scalley scored his first of three goals for Mount St. Mary's with seven seconds remaining in the third quarter. It was the last shot Ghitelman faced before giving way to backup Rob Fortunato.

The Mount scored twice in the fourth quarter after most of the Virginia starters went to the sidelines for good.

"I thought you witnessed a team that was very glad to be back on the field again," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "We probably played almost as well as we've played all year. It certainly would have been hard to predict that we were able to put that kind of performance together based on what practice has been like the last couple of days."