Lax teams at UVa. soldier on through tragedy

Story by Chris Graham
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For Julie Myers and her UVa. women’s lacrosse team, winning is about being able to stay together as a team for one more week.

“We’re tired, but we still have lots and lots of things that we want to do. Our underlying theme is, we really need to stay together. So we’re going to try to work hard to see if we can’t make that happen,” said Myers in a conference call on Wednesday ostensibly held to talk about the Cavs’ game at North Carolina this weekend.

On the field, the UVa. women are but a shadow of the group that knocked off the #3 Tar Heels 13-13 in Charlottesville in March with several key players sidelined with a variety of injuries. Off the field, the team lost fourth-year defender Yeardley Love three days after its regular-season finale overtime loss to five-time defending national champion Northwestern.

Love was found unresponsive in her apartment in the early-morning hours of May 3. UVa. men’s lacrosse player George Huguely has been charged with murder in her death.

Both UVa. teams considered briefly skipping the 2010 NCAA tournaments in the wake of the tragedy. They both returned to the field over the weekend, with the man, the #1 seed in their tournament, dominating Mount Saint Mary’s en route to an 18-4 win, and the women, the #6 seed in their field, beating Towson 14-12.

Love’s family was in the stands for the Towson game, something that Myers said “was one of the most amazing things to be a part of” that she can ever remember.

“To see them out there, to see them happy to be with us and then spend some time with them after the game, they continue to amaze me and impress me, and they continue to give me strength,” Myers said.

Myers admitted that her team was “exhausted” from everything that had happened leading into the Towson game, on the field and off the field. And while her team has had so much to deal with surrounding the death of Love, and the on-the-field issues with injuries to key players, she has a good feeling going down to Chapel Hill.

“We may look different, and we may play a little bit differently, but at the very center of it all, this is still Virginia lacrosse,” Myers said.

Myers’ voice sounded as upbeat as the quotes that she offered the media members would suggest. Starsia talked with reporters by conference call following Myers, and his voice gave an indication that the men’s coach is in a different place right now.

“I told our kids early on that there was just no road map for us in a situation like this,” Starsia said. “All I could do was stand up as straight as I could and be as honest as I possibly could and offer myself to the players in any way possible.

The UVa. men will be in Long Island this weekend to play at Stony Brook. That sounded like the farthest thing from Starsia’s mind today.

“There’s been a lot of guys leaning on each other as best as they can. And people asking, How are you doing? I say, We’re doing the best that we can here,” Starsia said. “Lives have been changed here forever, but some people that I really care about also need to be able to continue to move on in their lives, and we’re doing the best that we can trying to help people do that. I can offer no expertise here, but everything else that I have to offer is available to them,” Starsia said.

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