February 15, 2011

Top-Ranked UVA Opens with Drexel

from press release

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The Cavaliers, ranked No. 1 in this week's USILA coaches poll and No. 2 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse poll, open the 2011 campaign on Saturday against the Drexel Dragons, ranked No. 18 and No. 16 in the same respective polls. The game will be contested inside Klöckner Stadium and faceoff is slated for 5 p.m.

This is the 10th year in a row UVa has opened up its season against Drexel. The Cavaliers bring a 9-1 all-time series record against the Dragons into Saturday's contest, including a 4-0 mark at Klöckner Stadium. UVa's lone loss in the series was a season-opening setback to the Dragons on the University Hall Turf Field in 2007, a contest moved out of Klöckner Stadium due to weather.

The 2011 campaign will include a season-long quest for head coach Dom Starisa as the Cavaliers try to put his name atop a list as the head coach with the most victories while coaching at an NCAA Division I school. Starsia enters the season with 316 lifetime wins, trailing coaching legend Jack Emmer's 326 wins. Emmer coached at Cortland State and Washington & Lee when both participated as NCAA Division I lacrosse institutions, he concluded his storied career at Army.

The first step will be against a Drexel team that narrowly fell to UVa in Philadelphia to open the 2010 season, 11-8. After suffering a surprising loss to Drexel four years ago in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers got back on the winning track against the Dragons with an 11-7 win in the season opener three years ago. Making it three straight in the series last February, Virginia rode three goals and five points from Steele Stanwick as the Cavaliers' triumph gave Starsia his 200th career win at Virginia.

UVa's 20-5 win in 2002 was the first meeting in more than 50 years. The first meeting of the two schools occurred in 1947, Virginia's first season following World War II.

The Cavaliers are 44-32-1 (.578) all-time in season openers, including a mark of 25-16-1 (.607) when opening up the season at home. Saturday's game will mark the eighth time in the last 12 seasons the Cavaliers have opened the season at home, and the sixth time against Drexel.

Virginia enters 2011 after finishing with a 16-2 record last year and a No. 2 ranking in the final poll coaches and media polls. The season came to an abrupt end for the 2010 ACC champions with a heartbreaking 14-13 last-second loss to eventual national champions, the Duke Blue Devils, in the national semifinals.

With 28 returning lettermen, including seven starters returning, Starsia's squad is viewed as one of the leading candidates to make it to Final Four weekend in Baltimore, Md., vying to play on Memorial Day for the first time since winning it all in 2006. His team is ranked second in both the Face-Off Yearbook and Nike/Inside Lacrosse preseason poll. However, the USILA coaches poll has UVa ranked No. 1 in its preseason list.

Virginia returns nine of its top 10 goal scorers in 2010, but they will have their work cut out for them going against Drexel's goalie, Mark Manos. The junior was a third-team All-American in 2010 and despite coming up on the short end against the Cavaliers in 2010, he still made 17 saves in the three goal loss. Manos was also the Colonial Athletic Association's defensive player of the year. Drexel's head coach Brian Voelker enters his second season overseeing the Dragons' program, finishing 10-5 in his inaugural campaign in Philadelphia. Voelker returns three of his top four goal scorers from 2010, including Robert Church, who led the squad as a freshman with 32 goals.


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