UVA lacrosse hasn’t recovered since Yeardley Love murder

virginia lacrosseMultiple reports have Dom Starsia being forced out after 24 years at the helm of UVA lacrosse, with four national championships in his tenure.

Starsia, 274-103 (.727) at Virginia, also coached in four Final Fours and 21 NCAA Tournaments, but the 2016 Cavs didn’t make the tournament after finishing 7-8, the second time in the last four years that Virginia failed to make the postseason.

The results on the field were never the same after the May 2010 murder of UVA women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love, who was murdered by a men’s lacrosse player, George Huguely, now serving a 23-year sentence for the slaying.

The 2011 Cavs defeated Maryland to win its fourth national championship under Starsia, but from there it was all downhill, with Virginia winning just one more NCAA Tournament game in the next five seasons, and posting a combined record of 46-31 (.597).

The women’s program has struggled since the Love murder itself. After posting a 14-6 record in the 2010 season, the program slipped to a 9-9 mark in 2011, and has gone 55-43 over the past six years.

This isn’t to trivialize the tragedy for Love and her family. Her loss, and theirs, is infinitely more important than any lacrosse game, season or program trajectory.

It could be total coincidence that the programs have backslid since May 2010. It could also be a direct result, with impacts on recruiting being something that one would expect first and foremost.

In retrospect, perhaps Starsia should have stepped down after the Love murder, just to provide a clean break for the program to be able to build from.

That’s 20-20 hindsight. Now with UVA athletics apparently moving on, the next coach can start with a clean slate.

Column by Chris Graham

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