Last weekend was quite the thriller for Virginia Lacrosse, as the undefeated No. 1 Cavaliers came away with an 11-9 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Horseshoe. Virginia fell behind by as much as 6-1 in the first half, before coming back to tie up at the half. The Buckeyes started the second half with two quick goals in the first five minutes, before Virginia rattled off five straight to take a lead that proved insurmountable for the Buckeyes.
It wasn't the first time Virginia has been tested this year. In fact, in all but one game (Mount St. Mary's), the Hoos have had to come from behind - some more dramatically than others. In four of those seven games, Virginia was either tied or down in the second half.
Still, Virginia remains undefeated and has been ranked atop both the media and coaches' polls all season long. The Hoos face one of their toughest challenges of the season on Saturday when they take on No. 2 and also undefeated Johns Hopkins.
Virginia will need to focus on bringing the heat early, as Hopkins, 7-0, has a tendency to run up the score early on, outscoring their opponents 59-22 in the first three quarters this season, while staying largely even in the fourth quarter, putting up 14 goals to their opponents' 15.
"It doesn't mean that you're out of the game if you start out slowly, and sometimes it serves to get your attention," Virginia head coach Dom Starsia said. "But I would rather that we play well for 60 minutes and in games like the one we have coming up, it's going to be more critical for us."
Fortunately for Virginia, Hopkins hasn't been victorious in Charlottesville in quite some time. The Blue Jays have not won at Klockner since 1998. Under current head coach Dave Pietramala, Johns Hopkins is only 4-10 against the Cavaliers.
"Down there, that's a completely different monkey," Pietramala said about Virginia. "That's a gorilla. We've not had a lot of success down there."
One reason for concern against the Blue Jays is that they have a Stanwick of their own, as Steele's younger brother, Wells, is a freshman for the Blue Jays. Wells Stanwick missed three games earlier this season due to a right hand injury, but returned last weekend when Hopkins defeated Syracuse 11-7. In his first game back, Wells Stanwick had one goal and one assist against the Orange.
Wells Stanwick could be the fourth quarter offensive power that Hopkins needs to overtake Virginia. Still, Starsia thinks the Hoos will stay confident, even if they're down in the second half on Saturday.
"If we're going into the fourth quarter and it's a close game and we find ourselves a little bit behind come Saturday, I don't think we'll lose any poise or discipline."
Face-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPNU.