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Stegmaier: Denver v. Virginia

UVA…are you gellin?

UVA’s fat has been trimmed, and they look more relaxed and creative on offense. Coach Starsia said that after the two Duke losses, there were many lineup changes needed that were born out of necessity. Even though these were late in the season, the players are confident with them, and are more “in tune” of their identity as a team.

Now that the offense is being run through the attack more, and to be specific…Steele Stanwick; the Cavaliers have a true quarterback on offense. The Virginia offense just made Cornell’s defense look confused last Saturday. Through off-ball play, and the vision of Steele (3G, 4A), a majority of UVA’s 9 goal run was with UVA players getting open/cutting with no Cornell Defensemen on them. This relaxed free-flowing offense has worked hard, and as Coach Starsia said, the “core of this team has been able to reap the benefits of their work in the past couple of weeks”.
While coach Starsia was talking about how the team is not an easy one to be a goalie for, he admitted his defense was not as athletic this year as they have been in the past. This should be a concern facing Denver, and this puts a lot of pressure on veteran Adam Ghitelman to really be the last defense.

Denver…Teirney coaching a team that actually can score?

Denver is averaging 12.7 goals per game, and their only losses came when they scored 9 or less. Every win, Denver has scored 11 or more. Yes, Tierney’s defense is solid (8.4GA) as it always was in Princeton. Yet now out in Denver, Tierney has loosened the reigns for offense. Part of this offense has to do with the increased options for recruiting compared to Princeton. The other relates to an increased demand for poutine during team meals. (The Canadians aren’t the only ones scoring but do make up 3 of the top 5 scorers for Denver).

Denver players might look undersized (especially at Midfield), but they are quick. Their mids can juke and get a step on their man consistently. Cameron Flint in particular looked real good against Hopkins, and he could put up similar numbers against UVA.
It will be interesting to see how Denver’s defense handles a rejuvenated UVA offense. In net for Denver, Jamie Faus has been good and consistent at a save percentage of 57% on the season (47% against Hopkins). This would be Denver’s weak point. UVA will be getting more shots on goal, and probably more from in tight. Can Faus make the saves?
This game close to call. On one hand UVA is UVA. Without the Brattons, they seem to be playing at or above the level expected. The Cavaliers are gelling at the right time. Will their defensive be able to keep up with the quick attack/mids of Denver?

On the other hand is Denver. While new to the final four, their coach(es) aren’t. Denver’s offense can and will score, but as great of a defensive mind Tierney is, I wonder if his Pioneers can hold UVA enough to get the win. If Denver’s defense can handle the new Stanwick led UVA offense, they actually have a chance. Unfortunately I think Steele will have another field day and UVA pulls away late.

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