Virginia routs Mount St. Mary's, 18-4, in 2010 NCAA men's lacrosse tournament
Sunday, May 16, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- The Virginia men's lacrosse team gathered before Saturday's NCAA tournament game for a moment of silence honoring Yeardley Love, a women's lacrosse player who was found dead on May 3. One player was missing from the team's sideline, although he was not missing from the subtext of the Cavaliers' 18-4 win over Mount St. Mary's.
Charged with the first-degree murder of Love, George Huguely remained in a 4-by-8-foot jail cell four miles from Klockner Stadium. The incident occurred nearly two weeks ago, during which time top-seeded Virginia remained silent while reports of Huguely's violent past were uncovered. The team and Coach Dom Starsia continue to avoid comment on anything pertaining to the police investigation.
"Emotionally, it's been a tough ride for us," said Virginia goalie Adam Ghitelman, who saved nine shots in three quarters. "We've had to step up and kind of have iron hearts this past week. I think our team has come together, as well as with the girls, to help each other out. For both teams, it's win [or] you're done. You got to think about that. The best thing we got going is the community of our teammates, and that helps us go through what's been going on."
Saturday marked the first time the team returned to the public eye since Love's death, playing on its home field in front of 3,355 adoring fans who saved a hearty cheer in the pregame introductions for Coach Dom Starsia. This came after the 13 seconds of silence in Love's honor. The team's uniform included a patch that read "Y.L.1." The same decal was worn by the baseball team and could be seen on the shirts of athletic department officials.
"It's just something where we're all representing Yeardley," senior Mikey Thompson said. "We're all very close to her, and we want to keep her in our thoughts."
Despite the questions of the past two weeks, which included speculation about whether Virginia would even continue its season, it was quickly apparent that the Cavaliers were prepared to play. They jumped to a 12-1 halftime lead and dominated the Mountaineers. Sophomore attackman Steele Stanwick led the team with six points (one goal, five assists), while three Virginia players scored three goals. The Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals, where they will play eighth-seeded Stony Brook in Stony Brook, N.Y., on Sunday.
The team marched out of its locker room minutes before 6 p.m., shielded on both sides by family and fans supporting the team. They passed stadium employees with ribbons pinned to their shirts, and flowers that were laid out next to a board indicating the daily schedule.
Virginia's players took the field wearing warmup shirts that read "One Love" on the back. Love wore No. 1 on the women's lacrosse team. The left sleeve read "JTB," an acronym for "Just the boys" that was adopted after former Virginia player Will Barrow died of an apparent suicide in 2008.
Defenseman Ken Clausen wore "WB" and "YL" on his eye black, initials for Barrow and Love. U-Va. President John T. Casteen could be seen after the game talking with members of the lacrosse team.
Neither the win nor the elapsed time will quiet the unanswered questions that still surround the team, particularly about how aware the players were of violence in Huguely's past. But for a few hours on Saturday night, the focus was back on lacrosse, a forum in which Virginia has proved it's capable of handling.
"The lacrosse game in and of itself was not nearly the most important thing that was happening," Starsia said. "But I think winning the lacrosse game meant we got to stay together. . . . Any additional time we can spend together will be time well spent, and I think particularly important in this period of time."