Virginia Overcomes Syracuse
Mar 07, 2010
Rhamel Bratton scored a team-high four goals.
On an unseasonably warm and sunny March afternoon, the Virginia men's lacrosse team dropped rival and No. 1 Syracuse in an 11-10, physical shootout. Junior midfielder Rhamel Bratton, stepping up in place of his injured brother Shamel, led the Cavaliers with four goals. Virginia overcame a 5-2 deficit in the early moments of the contest and then held off a fourth quarter rally to notch the victory.
Virginia moved quickly off the mark with Rhamel Bratton notching a goal just more than a minute into the contest. Sophomore attack Steele Stanwick, showing his experience and vision, scored the first of his two goals in the first quarter, but the Orange, powered by three straight Chris Daniello assists, outmatched the Wahoos early in the game.
The first quarter was marred by defensive miscues and a lack of concentration on the part of Cavalier coach Dom Starsia's squad. That left UVa in the 5-2 hole early in the action.
"We just lost our mind in the beginning of the game," Starsia said. "That's as close as I've come to having the top of my head blow off in some time."
When the Cavaliers played Syracuse at even numbers, they were able to control the ball and maintain possession. Freshman Matt White scored his only goal of the game in the second quarter. Sophomore standout Chris Bocklet, who managed to remain unbothered by cramps, added two goals quickly during man-up situations. Virginia entered the locker room at halftime up 8-5 and in clear control of the momentum of the game after a 6-1 scoring edge in the second quarter. Syracuse did not lead again for the rest of the contest.
Rhamel Bratton made this his breakout game after taking much of the young offense onto his shoulders, particularly in the first half when he scored three times. Three of his four goals on the day came unassisted. His speed and elusiveness proved too much for the Syracuse defense to handle.
"Rhamel has probably been one of our most consistent players since September," Starsia said. "He had an up and down sophomore season, but he's been working at it regularly. He's needed consistency to reach the next level."
After halftime, the 7,501 fans in attendance Sunday witnessed a game of cat-and-mouse for much of the remaining minutes. The turn-around in Virginia's ability to posses the ball from the first half was staggering. UVa eventually built a 9-5 lead early in the second half off of a Brian Carroll score, but the Orange simply refused to go away.
"When you're playing Syracuse the only option is to keep scoring," Carroll said. "As soon as you try to play keep away they will probably go on a run."
The Cavaliers' last goal came with 7:27 left in the game. While the Orange did close to within one goal, the defense held Syracuse scoreless for the last five minute of the contest. The Orange's prolific attackman Cody Jamieson was held to one goal and one assist for the entire game. Most of Syracuse's offensive production came courtesy of Daniello, who had two goals and three assists on the day. Syracuse's goaltender John Galloway came up with 18 huge saves to keep his team in the game.
Virginia comes away from its first big test of the season unscathed and with a greater knowledge of its own abilities.
"It builds your confidence," Rhamel Bratton said. "Wherever we play them, it does matter. We'll see them or a team like them again."
Virginia faces in-state foe VMI on Tuesday, followed by a road trip to Cornell next Saturday, March 13. Cornell knocked the Cavaliers out of the NCAA Tournament in the semifinal round last season. No wonder the Hoos already had started thinking about practice again shortly after Sunday's big win.
"You have to give credit to the defense and Adam Ghitelman in the cage," Bocklet said. "Now we've got to just get ready for the next practice."
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