Closing the Book on UVA

Closing the Book on UVA

 

Closing the Book on UVA

 

What a game!  All results aside this was a tremendous battle that showed this 2013 Dragon squad will be a team that can battle with anyone.  The back and forth affair unfortunately ended in heartbreak for the Dragons as Virginia won the opening faceoff in OT and found Matt White for the game winner 11 seconds later for a 13-12 win on their home turf. 

 

The buildup to this game was phenomenal as twitter was abuzz with energy and anticipation for the start of the season and the boys stepped up and fought so hard for 60 minutes.  Best tweet leading up to this one was from junior D-mid Jason Klunder who noted this was a “business trip to UVA”.  The boys certainly looked like they were ready to play this game.  The team started slow and looked out of sorts early, but turned and early 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 halftime lead and set up for what was one of the most exciting half’s of lacrosse WPF has ever scene.

 

This loss hurts for sure, as another great performance from DU in their annual opener against Virginia come up just short, but for a team that had so many question marks going into the season the performance from this group should be applauded.  There is so much to get into, and to be perfectly honest every single phase and player in this game has moments in both the Sunny and Dark side of things, but here’s the good and the bad from 2013 opener as we saw it:

 

The Sunny

 

The Coaching Staff

Huge losses to graduation on defense, injuries to key offensive starters and the leap year task of trying to replace a 4 year starter in goal is all that Voelker and the boys had to work though, but there would be no “rebuilding year” mentality in this one.  This team was not only well prepared, but they showed a swagger and confidence of a team ready to take on the world.  As for big personnel decisions, the staff gets huge marks for naming freshman Frankie Fusco to the starting left attack spot, sophomore Saputo to take most of the first half draws and the biggest decision in making freshman Will Gabrielson the starting goalie.  Throw in the fact that every Time Out call seemed to net positive results for the Dragons and you have to give a big pat on the back to this coaching staff.

 

The Freshmen

 Manos graduated, and like the graduation of legendary Bickford before him, this squad had to find the next net minder to lead this team and be the final line of defense.  Ladies and gentlemen, get familiar with Mr. Will Gabrielson.  The rookie came into the first game of his college career with the poise of a veteran and after letting up a couple goals on the first few shots against him, turned in a 15 save performance that included some game changing moments.  Adding to his ball stopping performance, the frosh was confident and reliable in the clearing game.  The program was rattled a few months ago when 2-year starter and goal scoring machine Brendan Glynn was caught up in an accident that ended his season.  Enter Yorktown, NY native Frankie Fusco, who burst onto the scene with the first goal of the Dragons season and displayed the youthful exuberance of a former West Chester area native Kevin Stockel.  The lefty played every minute of this one and had a huge goal to tie it late at 11-11.  Look for #44 to make a splash on the scoring sheet this season as he seems to have the confidence to contribute on a weekly basis.

 

Return of the Triz

Not sure if the coaches knew that Nick Trizano would be able to return for the season opener, but it was a surprise to see Triz get on the field in this game.  Welcome back 22.  Coming out of the midfield like he did his freshman and sophomore season, Trizano made his mark on this game with 2g’s & 1a and provided the additional lift this offense surely needed to compete for 60 minutes.  His presence can’t be underestimated and the offense goes to a different dimension when he is out there.

 

Ben McIntosh

Let it be known that Belka and Prosser, two of the major returning offensive quantities, also had great games, but #9 turned in a performance that seemed to be different then what we’ve seen over his first two seasons.  Not afraid to dodge in either direction, the righty Canadian was able to dodge and move the ball effectively all day.  He looked big and strong and seemed to be a major part of the action all day, including helping out in transition D.   His indoor skills came in handy as he was found on the crease three separate times and the buried the rock like a true Canuck would.  Nice hat trick to start the season #9 – going to be a huge part of this teams success this year.

 

Pat Root and the DMids

As documented though the scrimmages, this group of young men seem poised and ready to take the reigns from the successful cast who just graduated.  They were able to prove it today down at UVARedshirt frosh Pat Root not only locked down his match up all day, but the transition game was smooth and on point.  Brothers Klunder showed up big for this one and both Garrett McIntosh and Matt Clark put in solid performances as well.  Clark in particular looked very confident clearing the ball though midfield.  Although all of the DMids had moments in this game I think they would like to have back, the overall feeling here is should be positive for a position that endured major graduations in the offseason.  

 

The X

Like the DMids, the boys at the X had a bunch of positive moments and a few moments they would like to have back.  It will be interesting to see how both Nick Saputo and Deven Thomas are used throughout the season considering Saputo took the majority of the first half draws after Deven was the main man last year, but he rewarded the coaches by being the Dragons best player for much of the first half.   Deven had a decent day when he started taking drawings in the second half, his highlights included: a huge win while the Dragons were down a man and tied 8-8, the win allowed Prosser and McIntosh to kill the entire penalty.  He won the draw after Virginia went ahead with 40 seconds to go, the win and subsequent time out set up the last second Belka tying goal, and he also won the last draw in regulation that gave Church a chance to sting the game winner with no time on the clock.  Bottom line, the X appears to be in good hands this season.

 

Special Teams

While there wasn’t a crazy amount of penalties in this one, the Dragons  EMO went 2-4 and the man down unit killed all three of their situations.  The EMO goals were highlighted by the fact that sophomore Andrew Vivian, who like Trizano has been battling an injury was uncertain to play, scored both the goals for the unit off of some nice crease play.

 

The Dark

 

Church

Unfortunately for 2012 leading scorer , this was not his best day.  He had trouble finding a way to get into this game, which I’m sure had more to do with Virginia understanding how dangerous he truly can be.  For whatever reason, Churchy has had issues getting going in the early season games for all of his career, so don’t worry about the crafty finisher, I’m sure he comes back with 5 next week...

 

Some Wing Play Issues

Although it wasn’t a glaring weakness, some big face-off wins quickly resulted in turnovers and big plays for the Cavs.  After winning the first draw of the game, no one worked to get the ball from Saputo and a turnover lead directly to the first shot and goal of the game.  After scoring 2 goals to tie the game late in the 4th, Deven won the draw and it looked like the Dragons would have the chance to win the game but Virginia trapped Garrett McIntosh on the sidelines and got the ball back.  This turnover led directly to the Cav’s go-ahead goal with 40 seconds left.  Lastly, the wings had a real good chance to pick up the GB on the OT faceoff, but failed to convert and allowed Virginia’s Emry to run through the ball and set up the game winner.

 

Transition Offensive

The chances were there, but for whatever reason the transition game just didn’t seem to net many goals in this one.  The early chances were muted by guys hitting the cross bar, but some questionable shot decisions foiled the Dragons chances to cash in on great defensive up and out’s.  Look for this to get better as the season goes on.

 

Great Tweets of the Day

 

@bqinlan3 – what’s the forecast in upset city today??!!

@BPTeuber35 – F*#k a wahoo!!  Game day here we go!

@BruceBickford – Gabrielson standing on his head right now #corn

@RavRay41 – Dom Starsia is almost as fat as me

@willmeltron – Lets Klockner UVA I the face in the 2nd half!

@bergy_blue_eyes – This game is nuts and I’m watching it on gametracker.  I refuse to pay UVA a dime.

@GLYNNsanity17 – well d middies lost all shooting privileges after giving up that fast break huh

@Dlayfield18 – BELKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@tmdreading – way to battle boys.  Put the rest of the schedule on notice your’re here to win it all.  Proud to be a Dragon alum!!

@KlunderWEAR – The only thing making me feel better after such a tough loss is reading @WPFLACROSSE tweets after the game #bestalumnioutthere

 

On to Albany, show up early and enjoy the game day festivities. 

Adult beverages a plenty, tunes cranked up to twenty. 

‘Za’s all around, come on out and get down.

It’s the first tailgate of 2013 back at the old stomping grounds.  43rd & Powelton.

Be there or be square.

@WPFLACROSSE