Virginia Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Dom Starsia overseen the men’s lacrosse program at Virginia since the early 1990s and was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2008. In 21 seasons under Starsia, the Cavaliers have won four NCAA titles — in 1999, 2003, 2006 and 2011 — and 245 games.
UVa, which finished 12-4 in 2012, won its first four games this season and entered March ranked No. 6 in the USILA coaches’ poll. That makes the Wahoos’ subsequent fall more shocking.
With two regular-season games remaining, the ‘Hoos (5-6) are unranked and have lost five straight for the first time since 1966. If they don’t prevail Friday night in Durham, N.C., against No. 7 Duke, which has won 12 of the past 13 games in the series, the `Hoos will have lost six straight in a season for the first time since 1939.
“This is just a little different for us,” Starsia said Monday.
Only once under Starsia have the Cavaliers finished with a losing record: in 2004, when they went 5-8. That’s also the only time Virginia has failed to reach the NCAA tournament during his tenure.
To earn a ninth consecutive invitation to the NCAAs, UVa may have to beat Duke on Friday night and Bellarmine on April 20 and then win the ACC tournament, which starts April 26 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
His latest team, Starsia stressed, has little in common with those 2004 Cavaliers.
“That was a team that had other issues that made the lacrosse-playing piece of it more complicated,” he said.
“This team is very much on the same page and pointed in the right direction and does what we ask. They listen, they’re attentive in practice. Over spring break, we practiced one day and I remember saying to the kids afterward, `When I retire, this is what I’m going to miss.’ It’s really fun to practice with these guys.”
As the lacrosse world knows, the Cavaliers rebounded from their 2004 debacle to reach the NCAA semifinals in ’05. A year later, Virginia went 17-0 and won the NCAA title in Philadelphia.
So Starsia isn’t panicking. Only three seniors play regularly for the `Hoos — defenseman Harry Prevas and midfielders Matt White and Charlie Streep — and five other players are redshirting because of injuries: freshmen Carlson Milikin, Will McNamara, Dickson Smith and Michael Howard and, most notably, All-America middie Chris LaPierre. Moreover, a highly regarded recruiting class will join the program this summer.