Coming in with a 9-5 record, the Virginia Cavaliers men's lacrosse team for the first time in a while is opening up NCAA Tournament play with an underdog mentality, seeded "only" seventh. Junior attackman and ACC Player of the Year Steele Stanwick looks to lead the Cavaliers to their fifth national Championship. The No. 10 Hoos will face unseeded, No. 7 Bucknell on Sunday.
As we all know by now, they'll try to do so without the dismissed Shamel Bratton, and, at least for the first game, without Rhamel Bratton, who will be on hand on Sunday, but who will not be playing. Head Coach Dom Starsia said that, if the Cavaliers advance, Rhamel would likely be practicing with the team next week.
With or without the Brattons, the Cavaliers' offense will likely be the star of the show on Sunday. Virginia is fourth in the country in scoring offense at 12.64 goals per game. But that alone won't carry the Hoos home for this match, as Bucknell's scoring defense ranks third in the country, allowing just 6.88 goals per game.Bucknell averages 10.19 goals per game, but could really run that number up this weekend on a Virginia defense that has at times, with inexperience, been spotty. Allowing 9.79 goals per game, the Cavalier scoring defense is ranked close to the bottom third in the country and is the worst among those that made the 16-team field.
This is going to be a tight matchup in Klockner. Virginia has what it takes to get past a very talented (and Patriot League-undefeated) Bucknell. Getting through the first round could mean that Virginia would face Cornell and nationwide points leader Rob Pannell in the quarterfinals round. Faceoff against Bucknell is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.