Saturday is one of the most exciting days of the regular season of college lacrosse, as the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers will travel to M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, to face No. 9/14 Cornell Big Red in the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic. Both teams come into this game with one loss from last weekend -- Cornell to No. 19 Army and the Hoos to No. 1 Syracuse. Tomorrow, the two teams will battle in Cornell's biggest game of the season.
Virginia leads the series between the two teams, 6-3, including a 12-4 victory at Cornell last season. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU with a 1:30 p.m. face-off.
Virginia has never lost in an Inside Lacrosse event, including wins over Syracuse in 2007 and 2008 at the Face-Off Classic, and wins over North Carolina in 2009 and 2010 in the Big City Classic in New York (well, New Jersey...but what appeal does that have?).
The Hoos have the second-best offense in the country, putting up an average of 15.4 goals per game, second only to Yale's 18.0 goals. But don't count Cornell out just yet. Big Red is eighth in the country with a respectable 12.0 goals a game, in large part thanks to junior attackman Rob Pannell.
Pannell comes into this game ranked No. 1in the country in both points per game (5.67) and assists per game (3.0). He was just named the Ivy League Player of the Week on March 7 after a great performance against Binghamton, where, despite playing in only the first half, he still had a hand in 8-of-13 goals. Pannell was also named to the Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List alongside teammate Jessi Steingberg, each for the second straight year. Pannell is also the reining USILA Jack Turnbull Award winner as Division I's top attackman.
Cornell is also dealing with a few key injuries, particularly to three starters -- sophomore attackman Steve Mock (2010 NCAA All-Tournament Team), senior long stick middie Max Feely (2010 All-American Honorable Mention) and senior attackman David Lau (2010 All-Ivy Honorable Mention) -- and they will not be dressed for Saturday's contest. Also, Big Red goalie A.J. Fiore has a save percentage of just .467, as compared to Adam Ghitelman's .590.
Virginia's the clear favorite to win this matchup, but anything could happen tomorrow. After all, Cornell is the team that gave Virginia a thorough routing in 2009, defeating the Hoos 15-6 in the national semifinals to advance to the title game.
Streaking the Lawn will be there covering the event live via this site and @TheUVAFool on Twitter. We'll be looking for enthusiastic Virginia fans to feature on this site, so give us a shout if you fit the bill!