The seventh-seeded Virginia Cavaliers advanced to the 2011 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship Game today, making it look easy against the Final Four newcomers, the sixth-seeded Denver Pioneers. The final score of 14-8 didn't do justice to how dominant the Cavaliers, who had a 13-3 lead after the third quarter, looked on the field.
"We played a great game," head coach Dom Starsia said. "All the credit to Denver and Bill [Tierney] and the season they had. Denver's being here means as much to our sport as almost anything that's happened the past 15 years. It's been a great ride for us. I give our guys a lot of credit. If you talk about how you like to script a first half, it probably wouldn't have been much different than what you saw on the field."
The only Tewaaraton Trophy Finalist to play today, junior attackman Steele Stanwick put up three goals and two assists for five points. That brings his tournament total up to 20, just two off from tying the Virginia record of postseason points, set by Matt Ward in 2006. The NCAA record stands at 25, set in 1977 and matched in 1987, both by Cornell.
"To play well and get the win means the world to me," Stanwick said following the game. "I had been to this point two times in my career but hadn't been able to win. The job's not done by any means but overall, I'm excited."
The big third quarter lead allowed the Hoos to rest some of the starters, including Stanwick, in the fourth quarter, with the championship game just two days away.
Joining Stanwick at the hat trick party were sophomore attackman Matt Cockerton and junior attackman Chris Bocklet. Bocklet has registered a hat trick in each of his six NCAA appearances. Stanwick and Bocklet now have 18 career hat tricks each - just one behind Denver's Mark Matthews, the NCAA Division I active leader.
Virginia will face unseeded Maryland in the Championship Game on Monday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN. The Terrapins defeated 5th-seeded Duke 9-4 in the second semifinal game.