Take two: Starsia savors victory
Being national champions makes almost anything bearable.
So Dom Starsia, head coach of the NCAA lacrosse champion Virginia Cavaliers, says his traditional celebratory soaking by his ecstatic team only "added to his delirium" on winning his second national title in three years.
With his 125-42 record in his 11 seasons with the Cavs, the 51-year-old New York native is no stranger to victory. But Starsia admits to being a bit of a stranger to packed stadiums.
When the Cavs clocked Duke, 12-6, on April 20 in the ACC final at Klöckner stadium, the season's largest home crowd of 3,355 watched in awe. But that was nothing compared to the NCAA-record 37,944 fans (not to mention the audience for the live ESPN broadcast) who watched Virginia pluck the Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins, 9-7, in the NCAA final at Ravens Field in Baltimore Monday, May 26.
While the huge throng "jumped out at me when we first came through the tunnel," Starsia says, he hardly noticed the crowd once the game began. Only when it was all over but the shouting, could he really "swallow in the atmosphere."
Starsia says the final's impressive turnout signifies "a little giddyup" for the sport of lacrosse, and he found the audience uniquely thrilling since "It's the one time we get a chance to do what the big boys do."
After such excitement, Starsia admits to being a little tired, but he says his largest post-season difficulty has been learning how to fish. "The fish are in no danger," he self-deprecatingly promises.
Starsia graduated from Brown University in 1974 and briefly considered a career in business. But after becoming coach of Brown's men's lacrosse program in 1982 and of its soccer program in 1983, he never looked back. Starsia describes his transfer to Charlottesville in 1992 as a wonderful move for his family.
With Starsia at the helm, the Cavaliers won the NCAA crown in 1999, and now the accolades for this second championship have stretched beyond the confines of Grounds.
"UVA's success migrates out to the community," says Benton Downer, a Charlottesville lacrosse enthusiast and realtor, who notes the growth of local middle school programs as an indication of the popularity that Starsia's teams have helped to foster.
With four of his seven All-Americans returning next season, Starsia expects to be doing what he's managed to do already: continue winning.
He won't get any argument from his players. "I like playing for Coach," says junior All-American goalkeeper Tillman Johnson, "because he wants to get the job done."