Mount St. Mary's at Virginia: Three things to watch
Mount St. Mary’s and Virginia have squared off every regular season for the past six years, and the Cavaliers have won each meeting. The Mountaineers’ first tournament victory depends on if they can up upset top-seeded Virginia. The winner of Saturday’s contest at 7:30 p.m. at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., will move onto a quarterfinal game against either No. 8 seed Stony Brook (12-3) or Denver (12-4) on Sunday, May 23 at either 12 or 2:30 p.m. at Stony Brook.
1. One key to a Mount St. Mary’s win: Some would consider the team’s first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament crown and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003 would be a moral victory for the Mountaineers (12-4). But Mount St. Mary’s has the offense (averaging 11 goals per game, which is tied for 16th in Division I), the goalkeeper (junior T.C. DiBartolo leads the country with a .606 save percentage) and the optimism that springs from youth. If the Mountaineers can keep the game close into the second half, maybe the Cavaliers begin playing a little tighter and start making mistakes.
2. One key to a Virginia win: Talent and skill are never a question with the Cavaliers (14-1), who boast some of the country’s best players at every position. But considering the emotional trauma rippling from the death of Virginia women’s lacrosse player and Cockeysville native Yeardley Love and the distraction of the media scrutiny poring over midfielder George Huguely who has been charged with homicide in the case, will the men’s team be focused without being hyperactive? The Cavaliers will likely draw strength from overwhelming public sentiment, but they need to play with poise and determination.
3. One key match-up: There are several interesting "games within the game" as DiBartolo will try to outshine Virginia junior goalie Adam Ghitelman, and sophomore attackman Cody Lehrer could see a lot of Cavaliers senior defenseman and Tewaaraton Award finalist Ken Clausen. But keep an eye on the chess match between senior defenseman Matt Nealis and Virginia sophomore attackman Steele Stanwick. Stanwick, the Loyola graduate is the offensive quarterback who leads the team with 23 assists. Nealis surrendered just one combined goal to Manhattan’s James Synowiecz and Siena’s Ryan Duggan in the MAAC Tournament.