Tonight's matchup will feature the two most explosive teams in the country. Fan’s will get a chance to see some of the best players in the country and will be on the edge of their seat throughout the entire game.
"There is nothing like going to the Dome," said Dom Starsia during an ESPNU production call. "It's special for our kids and the program to play in this game."
"Its May in March," said Syracuse analyst Kyle Fetterly. It doesn't get much better than this for an early matchup between two teams who are co-number ones in the country.
Here is a quick preview of both teams and their starting lineups:
Virginia Cavaliers: 4-0, 67 goals, 13-16 (81%) man up, 1-12 (83%) man down
Syracuse Orange: 2-0, 24 goals, 2-8 (.25%) m/u, 2/8 (.25%) m/d
(UVA) Steele Stanwick (Jr.): 11 goals, 12 assists, 23 points, 17 groundballs
(SYR) JoJo Marasco (So.): 5 g, 2 a, 9 pts, 5 gb
(UVA) Chris Bocklett (Jr.): 15 g, 2 a, 17 pts, 12 gb
(SYR) Stephen Keogh (Sr.): 3g, 2a, 5pts, 6 gb
(UVA) Connor English (So.): 5 g, 1 a, 6pts, 6 gb
(SYR) Tim Desko (R. Jr.): 5 g, 0 a, 5 pts, 4 gb
Overall Edge: Slight edge to Virginia in this one but its totally up for grabs. This isn't to say Marasco-Keogh-Desko don’t stack up with Stanwick-Bocklett-English, that's not the case at all. Its just at this point in the season (Virginia has played two more games than Syracuse), the UVA attack unit is looking a little more cohesive and the chemistry has clicked with that trio. There is no doubt the Syracuse unit is starting to click and Marasco is looking more and more like a leader of that offense. This could be the game where the nation realizes their attack is one of the best in the nation as well.
(UVA) Shamel Bratton (Sr.): 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points, 4 ground balls
(SYR) Jovan Miller (Sr.): 4 g, 0 a, 4 pts, 4 gb
(UVA) Rhamel Bratton (Sr.): 4 g, 1 a, 5 pts, 9 gb
(SYR) Josh Amidon (Sr.): 2 g, 2 a, 4 pts, 2 gb
(UVA) John Haldy (Sr.): 1 g, 2 a, 3 pts, 4 gb
(SYR) Jeremy Thompson (Sr.): 3 g, 0 a, 3 pts, 7 gb
Overall Edge: I have to go with Syracuse on this one. The unit has played together for a full year (2010) and is very experienced. They are a smart group of players who can play very well on both sides of the ball. When on, the UVA midfield, particularly the Brattons, are better than anyone. But they key word is when. In 2009 when Virginia came into the Dome, we saw one of the Brattons take a shot and it hit the second level of seats in the Dome. My point there is they aren't the smartest midfield in the country and don’t take the smartest shots, but when they are on, they both have one of the best shots in the country.
Second line midfield however is a different story. That is one place where UVA is scary good. As they showed in the 11-10 win over Stony Brook in which the Bratton’s didn’t play due to suspension, the Cavaliers do you have a strong second unit in which they were able to put on the first line last weekend. Chris LaPierre has one goal and four assists and Colin Briggs has three goals and two assists. This will be a big game for a guy like Tom Palesek in my mind because he will most likely be running with the second line for Syracuse and can really make an impact in this one. The Hopkins transfer has two assists on the year.
(UVA) Matt Lovejoy (R. Jr.): 14 groundballs, 8 caused turnovers
(SYR) John Lade (Sr.): 5 gb, 3 c/t
(UVA) Scott McWilliams (Fr.): 7 gb, 7 c/t
(SYR) Brian MeGill: 2 gb, 1 c/t
(UVA) Chris Clements (R. Jr): 8 gb, 3 c/t
(SYR) Thomas Guadagnolo (Sr.): 0 gb, 0 c/t
Edge: Slight edge Clements
Long Stick Midfield:
(UVA) Bray Malphrus (Sr.): 1 assist, 11 groundballs, 7 caused turnovers
(SYR) Joel White (Sr.): 7 gb, 4 c/t
(UVA) Adam Ghitelman (Sr.): 21 saves, 6.5 goals against average, 58% save percentage
(SYR) John Galloway (Sr.): 17 saves, 7.8 G.A.A., 53%
Overall Edge: While Malphrus is having a strong 2011, no one compares to LSM Joel White. White is possibly the best all around player in the country and you throw him into the mix of the Syracuse defense the edge goes to the Orange. Add in goalie John Galloway, the reigning goalie of the year, plus the fact they are at home, the edge goes to the ‘Cuse. They are an experienced bunch and Lade is one of the best defenders in the country. He takes on the opposing teams top attackman week in and week out and never disappoints. The Cavaliers defense is a little inexperienced and that could hurt them tonight. It will interesting to see how the bunch adjusts to playing in the Dome, which can be very challenging for opposing teams who come into the Loud House. Ghitelman however is experienced and is a big game goalie.
(UVA) Brian McDermott (Sr.): 21-47 (.47 %) 6 ground balls
(SYR) Jeremy Thompson (Sr.): 15-20 (.75%) 7 gb
Edge: Syracuse. The Orange have the best wings in the country with White and Miller. Thompson has looked good so far this season and has been winning many more face-offs to the wings, which will be very important tonight. When Thompson does complete one of his tricky "pinch and pop" face-offs it will be off to the races between Thompson and the Cavalier D. Coach Starsia has mixed up his face-off guys and you will also see Ryan Benincasa out there as well as LaPierre and Garrett Ince. Look for Coach Desko to also throw veterans Tim Harder and Josh Knight out there as well as freshman Ricky Buhr and Chris Daddio.
"The difference may be the 16,000 fans in the Dome for Friday happy hour. It's a building with ear piercing acoustics and poor sight lines, where opposing goalies are routinely lit up like a Christmas tree." -ESPN/Inside Lacrosse Analyst Quint Kessenich
"The difference may be the 16,000 fans in the Dome for Friday happy hour. It's a building with ear piercing acoustics and poor sight lines, where opposing goalies are routinely lit up like a Christmas tree."
-ESPN/Inside Lacrosse Analyst Quint Kessenich