Virginia lacrosse advances to Final Four with 10-9 win over Stony Brook

By Christian Swezey
Monday, May 24, 2010; D03

STONY BROOK, N.Y. -- A water bottle and a television camera sat in Virginia junior Adam Ghitelman's goal for the fourth quarter of his team's NCAA tournament quarterfinal at Stony Brook on Sunday.

In a hectic final minute, Ghitelman made sure nothing else went into the goal, making a crucial save to preserve the top-seeded Cavaliers' 10-9 victory and give Virginia a berth in next weekend's Final Four. It was the Cavaliers' second victory since former teammate George Huguely was charged with the murder of Virginia women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

Stony Brook trailed by one late in the game, but junior Kyle Belton had possession near the goal. At midfield stood Stony Brook junior Kevin Crowley, one of five finalists for the Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the top men's college player.

Crowley had to wait until a teammate left the offensive side of the field before he could enter the play (otherwise he would be offside). Just as Crowley neared the offensive box, Virginia realized the only defender not already engaged on a Stony Brook player was a short stick.

But the mistake did not hurt. Rather than waiting to give the ball to Crowley to exploit his matchup, Belton took a quick shot from a tough angle that Ghitelman saved with 30 seconds left.

"I think he forced that shot a little bit," Ghitelman said. "It came pretty quick. I wasn't really expecting a shot at that moment. I'm thankful I had the angle on him."

Said Belton: "That's one shot I'd definitely want back. I'll be thinking about it until next year."

The game was close largely because of Stony Brook's excellence on faceoffs. Junior Adam Rand won 18 of 23; he was helped on the wing by senior Steven Waldeck, who finished with one goal and a game-high eight groundballs.

Waldeck's importance on faceoffs was underscored early in the fourth quarter. His cherry-red jersey was already a few shades darker because of sweat when he went to the sideline for a brief rest after he scored a goal to tie the score at 7 with 14 minutes 34 seconds to play.

With Waldeck out of the game, Virginia (16-1) won its first faceoff since early in the third quarter, and junior Shamel Bratton scored a goal on that possession to give the Cavaliers an 8-7 lead. Waldeck was back on the wing on the next faceoff. The Seawolves won it.

It was a harrowing day on many fronts for Virginia. The team had to pass the Stony Brook student section every time it left or entered the field. With only a fraction of the crowd rooting for the Cavaliers, every Virginia misstep and every Stony Brook success was greeted with a roar from the sellout crowd of 10,024.

The successes for the Seawolves (13-4) included sophomore Robbie Campbell's goal early in the third quarter on a play in which he appeared to step into the crease before he shot; the infraction, which went unspotted, should have nullified the goal.

And there was a goal by Crowley to tie the score at 8 with 5:36 to play. The crowd roared, but Coach Rick Sowell instead remonstrated one of his players for entering the field of play as the seventh offensive player -- another infraction that should have disallowed the goal.

But it was Virginia that held on for the victory. The top-seeded Cavaliers will face No. 5 Duke in a semifinal on Saturday in Baltimore.

Sophomore Chris Bocklet finished with three goals and two assists, Bratton added three goals and Ghitelman made 13 saves.

Meantime, senior Ken Clausen held Stony Brook standout Tom Compitello to one goal on six shots. Early in the fourth quarter, Compitello was so flummoxed that he was removed from the game. His replacement, junior Brent Drost, was wide open with a point-blank shot following a series of quick passes, but he misfired.

-- CORNELL 14, ARMY 5: Ryan Hurley had four goals and an assist as the seventh-seeded Big Red (12-5) reached the Final Four and set up a game against Notre Dame by beating the Black Knights (11-6).

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