The University of Virginia received the No. 1 seed for the men’s national lacrosse tournament less than 24 hours after players attended the funeral of a classmate police said was murdered by one of their teammates.
“There’s no question the eyes of the nation are going to be on us,” coach Dom Starsia said during an interview with ESPNU. “All we can do is take care of the things we can control. We’ll prepare ourselves to return to the lacrosse field. If, along the way, we can put out a good effort and do it in an honorable way, that’s all we can really do.”
Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said on May 4 that the school would honor the memory of Yeardley Love, a 22- year-old senior, by participating in postseason tournaments. George Huguely, also 22 and a senior, was charged in her death.
Both teams attended Love’s funeral two days ago in Baltimore, which is the site of the semifinals and championship game for the men’s tournament. The preceding days were filled by exams and Starsia said his players felt “relief” about being able to get back on the practice field yesterday.
Starsia, who lost his father to cancer over the weekend, said he also met with the team about competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.
‘Return to Normal’
“Last week, we were sort of given permission to play again. But for me, I needed that confirmed,” Starsia said. “There was a sense that we want to get on with this and begin the process of having our lives return to normal.”
Virginia would face the University of Denver or Stony Brook University in the second round of the 16-team, single- elimination tournament.
Two-time defending champion Syracuse University is seeded second in the field, while the University of Maryland, University of North Carolina and Duke University round out the top five seeds. Princeton University is seeded sixth.
Virginia lost in the national semifinals at last year’s tournament as the No. 1 seed.
“I’m just trying to help my family get along and help our team recover and begin to be able to move forward,” Starsia said. “There are so many things that need to happen on a personal level that the lacrosse part of this has been a little secondary to this point.”