Last week, there were eight seniors on the Virginia men's lacrosse team. Today, on Senior Day, however, only six were honored before the game. This included defensemen Tod Faiella and Bray Malphrus, goalie Adam Ghitelman, and middies John Haldy, Garett Ince and Brian McDermott. Noticeably absent were All-Americans Shamel and Rhamel Bratton, who have been the center of much drama surrounding the program this week.
The storyline by now is familiar. Shamel has been dismissed by the team, while Rhamel has been suspended indefinitely. Together, they are the team's star front midfielders across the board. In fact, Shamel has more points next to his name throughout his career than any other midfielder in UVa program history.
When asked whether there's a timetable as to when a decision would be made on Rhamel's return, Virginia head coach Dom Starsia replied, "No. It'll be an ongoing conversation."
"It was tough [not hearing the Brattons' names called out on Senior Day]," Ghitelman said following the game. "These guys are our friends and guys we've been at school with for a majority of our time. It's unfortunate what had to happen, but we still love those guys and wish them the best."
ACC Player of the Year Steele Stanwick, however, noted that there's plenty of talent on this team, and that no one on the Wahoos' offense would have to do more than they were used to.
"We just had to play smart, play our team offense and be patient. Obviously without those guys, we lose some athleticism and they can kind of do things that other guys can't. But at the same time, we've got guys that can step up, and that's what we did today."
Reports earlier this week said that it was the team that ultimately voted to dismiss Shamel and suspend indefinitely Rhamel. Ghitelman, however, set the record straight with just one line.
"There's no team vote at all."
What lies ahead for this team is an uphill battle to return to the National Championship game and bring home the hardware. Stanwick said that they had team meetings earlier this week to get on the same page, and that's exactly what happened.
"We saved our best game for one of the big moments in the season. If I had to say this was our best game, I would say it was.... I can just feel it in the locker room - everyone's definitely very excited.
This win comes at a crucial time for the Cavaliers, who have been struggling as of late. Those who watched today's game say that the team looked better off without the Brattons - passes were smoother and more folks were getting touches. Ghitelman just had one thing to add.
"We don't lose any confidence in our ultimate goal here. We want to win a national championship and that's what we came here for and that's what we believe we're going to do."
Here are a couple interview videos courtesy of Whitey Reid of the Daily Progress: