Feb. 26, 2009

Courtesy of Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Syracuse men’s lacrosse team (2-0) hosts Virginia (4-0) in a matchup of the nation’s two highest-ranked teams on Friday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The Orange maintained its position as the top-ranked squad in the land for the third straight week in the USILA Coaches’ Poll. The Cavaliers are No. 2. In the NIKE/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll, Virginia is No. 1, while the Orange is listed second. Friday night’s game is the second half on an SU-Virginia men’s and women’s lacrosse doubleheader. The institutions’ women’s teams clash at 4 p.m. in the Dome.
Tickets are available online at SUathletics.com, over the phone (1-888-DOMETIX), or in person at the Carrier Dome Box Office during normal business hours.  Fans will be able to receive their tickets right after purchase by using the "Ticketfast" delivery method. ‘Cuse Kids Club members get in free with their membership card.
Friday’s game will air live locally on Time Warner Sports 26 in Syracuse. Fans can listen to the action via the Syracuse ISP Sports Network’s flagship station TK 99 (99.5 FM). The audio and video streams of the broadcast are available on SUathletics.com as part of Orange All Access.
Friday’s game against Virginia marks the eighth time since 1973 that Syracuse has been involved in a game where they have either been ranked No. 1 and faced the second-ranked team or have been ranked No. 2 and faced the top-ranked team in the USILA Coaches’ Poll. The Orange is 2-5 in its first seven No. 1 versus No. 2 showdowns with a wins against No. 2 Johns Hopkins in the 1989 NCAA title game and No. 2 North Carolina in the 1994 season opener. In five of the seven games, Johns Hopkins has been SU’s opponent. Four of the seven No. 1 versus No. 2 showdowns Syracuse has been involved in have come with the NCAA Championship on the line. The most recent of those matchups was in 2001 when the second-ranked Orange took on top-ranked Princeton in the NCAA title game.
Former Syracuse All-American Travis Solomon will be honored at halftime on Friday. Solomon, the goalie for SU’s 1983 national championship team, is battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He will be joined on the field by members of the 1983 Orange squad and he will be recognized with a brief video presentation. Solomon played for the Orange from 1981 to 1983, earning honorable mention All-America honors in 1983. He finished with 293 career saves, including 259 during the Orange’s run to the NCAA title, which ranks fifth on the school’s single-season saves list. A fundraiser for Solomon and his family will be held Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Lafayette Fire Hall.
Orange head coach John Desko and Virginia head coach Dom Starsia are two of the top active coaches in the game. Desko ranks second among active Division I coaches in career winning percentage (.750). Starsia is sixth on that list (.728). Starsia also owns the third-most wins by an active head coach (289). Desko and Starsia are two of the four active coaches that have won at least three NCAA titles. Desko has four national championships and Starsia has three. Princeton’s Bill Tierney (6) and UMBC’s Don Zimmerman (3) are the other two active coaches with at least three titles. Desko is 7-7 against Starsia since taking the Orange reigns in 1999.
Sophomore Stephen Keogh has looked comfortable in his first two games as part of the Orange’s starting attack. Keogh has scored eight times in SU’s first two games (4.0 gpg) and he is the team leader in goals scored. Keogh netted a career-best five goals in his first collegiate start against Providence and found the back of the cage three times against Army. He is second on the Orange in scoring with 11 total points and he is the squad’s most accurrate shooter (min. 2 shots), connecting on 57.1 percent of his attempts (8-14).
Orange senior midfielder Dan Hardy enters Friday’s game against Virginia with 99 points (61g, 38a) in 48 career games since 2006. Hardy had five points in SU’s win against Army on Feb. 20, including a personal-best three assists. Once Hardy reaches that milestone he will join Kenny Nims as Syracuse’s only active 100-point scorers.
Virginia enters Friday’s showdown with a 4-0 record, including a 10-2 home triumph against Mt. St. Mary’s on Feb. 24. Like SU, the Cavaliers are one of the top offensive teams in the nation. They are averaging 13.25 goals per contest. Head coach Dom Starsia’s squad boasts one of the best attack units in the country in seniors Garrett Billings, Danny Glading and freshman Steele Stanwick. Billings leads the team in goals (14) and points (22). He scored 11 points, including a school-record tying eight goals in the team’s wins at Stony Brook on Feb. 21. Glading has two goals and is tied for the team lead in assists with Billings (18). Stanwick lists second in the team in scoring with 13 points (7g, 6a). In addition, junior midfielder Brian Carroll has proved to be a consistent offensive threat. He is second on the team with 10 goals.
Virginia’s close defense is anchored by All-American Ken Clausen, who is second on the team with 21 ground balls. Clausen and his mates have helped the Cavaliers to a 5.75 season goals-against average. Sophomore Adam Ghitelman has started all four games in goal. He has 32 saves, a 5.44 goals-against average and a .615 save percentage. Chad Gaudet is Starsia’s first option at the faceoff X. He is 41-for-73 (.562) on draws and leads the team with 23 ground balls.
Starsia is in his 18th year as the head coach of the Cavaliers. He owns a 188-62 record at the school and a 289-108 overall career coaching record. He has won three national championships at Virginia (1999, 2003, 2006) and was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2008.
The series between Syracuse and Virginia dates back to 1938 and is tied at 12-12. It has been excruciatingly close between the two clubs recently. Since 1994, when SU and Virginia began playing annually, each squad has scored 292 goals, making the average score of the last 21 meetings, 13.9 to 13.9. The two teams have met eight times in the NCAA Tournament. They have split those meetings as well with each club winning four. Syracuse posted a 12-11 double-overtime victory in the 2008 NCAA semifinals in the most recent playoff showdown.
The Cavaliers are making their first trip to the Dome since 2005. The annual SU-Virginia regular-season meeting occurred in Charlottesville in 2006 and at a neutral site (Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium) as part of the Face-Off Classic the last two seasons.