March 12, 2011

Cornell Frustrates Virginia, But Cavs Prevail

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com


Cornell midfielder Roy Lang beats Virginia midfielder Rhamel Bratton on a dodge Saturday in the teams' clash at M&T Bank Stadium. UVA won, 11-9.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BALTIMORE, Md. -- Shamel Bratton finally jumped for joy in the end zone at M&T Bank Stadium early in the fourth quarter after he scored to put second-ranked Virginia up two goals against Cornell. Until then, he and his twin brother Rhamel were more likely to be seen pretending to break their sticks over the knees in frustration after a missed shot.

"Most of the day it seemed like we were struggling on offense in particular, but we worked hard," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said after the Cavaliers beat No. 14 Cornell, 11-9, Saturday in the second game of the Face-Off Classic men's tripleheader. "It never felt like it was going to be easy."

Cornell had a lot to do with the frustration. With defensive leader Max Feely back from injury after missing two games, the unit shut out Virginia attackman Steele Stanwick and limited the Brattons to two points each.

But still the Cavaliers managed to find some offensive production with their impressive depth. Second midfielder Colin Briggs had a hat trick and freshman Rob Emery had a pair of impressive long, second-half goals to help the offense along. And the Brattons came up big to give Virginia (6-1) a two-goal lead early in the fourth quarter.

Rhamel gave Virginia its first lead of the game at 8-7 almost four minutes into the fourth on a behind-the-back goal with three defenders on him. He charged the crease just to the left of Cornell goaltender A.J. Fiore and Bratton let a shot loose behind the head and over his left shoulder as multiple defenders fell to the ground around him.

Shamel scored just over a minute later to give the Cavs' the two-goal lead that held up. He face-dodged Cornell defenseman Thomas Keith and Bratton nearly himself fell over on the move, but maintained balance and beat Fiore high from the right hash marks at the Baltimore Ravens' home football stadium.

"They were sliding right away," Rhamel Bratton said of Cornell's defense. "I don't remember the call. It was something like 'fire,' and they were sliding right away trying to get the ball out of sticks. They did a good job of that during the course of the day. We had some opportunities that we didn't cash in on, definitely me myself. I felt like my stick was wasn't working for me so I had to change it toward the end. I think it worked out."

Cornell, which fell to 3-2 on the season, controlled much of the possession in the first half, including the second quarter when it won just one of five faceoffs but held the ball off turnovers and 13 ground balls to outshoot Virginia 15-8. The Big Red led 5-4 at halftime behind two goals from Rob Pannell, who finished with four.

First-year Cornell head coach Ben DeLuca said he was "proud of the way our boys played today," but said drawing six second-half fouls "was really a killer for us." Virginia scored two extra-man goals in the second half, one by Emery and another from Chris Bocklet that gave
Virginia a 10-8 lead with 7:43 left.

"We could play with anybody in the country," Pannell said. "A couple of things didn't go our way today. We made a couple of mistakes in the second half. The game could have very well went a different way. On any given day, we can beat anybody in the country. It shows that when we're at full strength and everybody is on the same page, we can be the team that we want to be."

The Big Red played with regular starting attackman Steve Mock, midfielder David Lau and defenseman Feely. The trio was said to be doubtful for this game with undisclosed injuries. Each had either missed all or parts of the Big Red's last two games.

"[Feely] did a fantastic job on Steele Stanwick and our team defense stepped up big," DeLuca said. "We missed [Max] when he was out. It was huge boost and a huge lift. He's the heart and soul of our D."

Lau moved from midfield to attack upon his return Saturday.

"Pairing him up with Rob is a move that we felt long term is going to benefit us," DeLuca said. "Having another playmaker down on attack, who can shoot and distrubite the ball and handle. He's a guy who can break down a defense and find the seams. We thought we needed someone to carry against pressure."

On the other side, Adam Ghitelman was a big part of Virginia's defensive effort. He finished with 13 saves. Starsia praised the senior afterwards, saying the Cavs' need him to be strong behind a relatively young defensive unit.

Starsia also said he was happy to leave the stadium Saturday and look ahead to practice.

"This is the end of long stretch of lacrosse for us, seven games in the last three weeks," Starsia said. "We have to get back on the practice field. We haven't been on the practice field recently. This is a segment of the season for us where we play two games per week. We're
finished with that now. To come through and be where we are right now, with a win over Cornell to finish up, I'm really happy."

He added, "This is the kind of win that will stand up for us over the course of the season."


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