The No. 3 Virginia field hockey team (9-0, 1-0 ACC) returns home this week after beating Cornell and Boston College last weekend. UVa is now preparing to face ACC rival No. 1 Maryland (8-1, 2-0) on Friday at 5 p.m. at the University Hall Turf Field. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free Virginia field hockey t-shirt and free Domino’s pizza and Pepsi also will be available, while supplies last.
I caught up with junior Michelle Vittese to talk about the game. Vittese is a critical member of the squad and spent this past summer traveling with the National team on its European Tour.
Why is Maryland going to be such a big game?
Vittese: The rivalry with Maryland is one that is pretty competitive. Our history of competition, such as meeting in the ACC Championship last year, has created a pretty big rivalry between the two programs. Our past two games against Maryland, we have been up 2-0 going into the second half. Maryland is the type of team that is so disciplined they do not know how to give up. We have lost the last two games we met, even though we were up 2-0. Winning this Friday would just put an end to all the hard feelings we have from losing in the past.
It’s interesting to see the dynamic of the two opponents this week. For example, Elly Buckley’s older sister Jemma plays for Maryland, and teammate Paige Selenski and I have also played alongside Katie O’Donnell all summer on the national team.
What is it like playing against teammates from the national team?
Vittese: I think it will be really fun! Katie O’Donnell is one of the best players I have played against in the NCAA and we’re both pretty competitive.
How is the team preparing for such an important game?
Vittese: The most important part of preparation is our mentality. We must stay composed and play our game.
What is your role in preparing the team?
Vittese: My role on the team is to use my knowledge of the game to help those around me. It’s pretty important for me to stay composed in order to keep the team composed. I have to stay positive and focus on the positive!
How do you prepare yourself?
Vittese: Preparing myself is a lot different. I don’t like to think too much about the opponent. I really like to focus on what I need to do to help the team perform best!
What does the team have to do during the game to win?
Vittese: It’s most important to encourage everyone on the field. Every person has to hold themselves accountable. If we all focus on working harder than Maryland, keeping our basic skills on task, and finishing each skill, it all will fall into place.
Below is an update of how each University of Virginia football commit performed last week on the gridiron. If no stats were available, there is an update on how the commit’s team is faring. (Note: The position listed is for the high school team.)
Diamonte Bailey, DE, Hermitage (Richmond, VA) - Bailey and the rest of the vaunted Panthers defense shut down the Varina Blue Devils 17-12, moving Hermitage to 3-0 on the season. Varina did not score an offensive touchdown in the game. Bailey was in attendance for the VMI game.
Thompson Brown, DE/TE, St. Christopher’s (Richmond, VA) - Brown racked up 11 tackles and hauled in a 13-yard touchdown reception as St. Christopher’s defeated Norfolk Academy 35-0. St. Christopher’s is 4-0 on the year.
Ross Burbank, OT/DL, Cox (Virginia Beach, VA) - Cox is now 1-3 on the season after a loss to Landstown. The Falcons have lost three straight games.
Rob Burns, DE/TE, Stone Bridge (Ashburn, VA) - Burns, a defensive end and tight end, helped the Bulldogs move to 4-0 on the season with a 49-0 win over Thomas Jefferson.
Vincent Croce, MLB/TE, Good Counsel (Olney, MD) - Good Counsel moved to 3-1 on the season with a 53-7 win over Bishop O’Connell.
Tim Cwalina, LOT, Mount Lebanon (PA) - Mount Lebanon, ranked #2 in Group AAAA, is 4-0 on the season following a 28-20 win over Hopewell. Cwalina is starting at left tackle this season, his second as a starter on the varsity level.
David Dean, DT/OG, Green Run (Va Beach, VA) - Green Run defeated Salem 34-14, moving to 3-2 on the season.
Adrian Gamble, WR, Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) – The Patriots routed East Mecklenburg 49-6 for win #1 of the 2010 season. Independence is 1-4.
Kevin Green, QB, Petersburg (VA) - Petersburg is 2-0 but has not played a game since Sept. 2. Green, who has totaled 437 yards passing and two touchdowns as well as four rushing scores, will lead the Crimson Wave against Thomas Dale this week.
Anthony Harris, QB/CB, L.C. Bird (Chesterfield, VA) - Harris completed 4 of 6 passes for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 24-yard touchdown run opened the scoring in a 29-3 route of arch-rival Thomas Dale. Harris, who rushed 9 times for 49 yards on Friday night, has helped the Skyhawks to a 3-0 start in 2010.
Kelby Johnson and Jordan Lomax, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD) - Johnson, the starting left offensive tackle, and Lomax, a defensive back/wide receiver, helped DeMatha rebound from a 35-10 loss to Gilman (featuring top remaining 2011 target Darius Jennings) with a 41-6 win over Paul VI. The Stags are now 3-1 on the season. Junior TE/DE Brent Wilkerson, who has an offer from UVa, hauled in a 5-yard touchdown pass in the win. Johnson and Lomax were in attendance for the VMI game.
Marco Jones, DE/OT, Boys’ Latin School (Baltimore, MD) - Jones totaled 6 tackles, 5 quarterback hurries and 1 interception as Boys’ Latin defeated St. John’s Prospect Hall 16-12. Boys’ Latin is 4-0 this season.
Darius Lee, LB/TE, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Alexandria, VA) - Lee, who totaled 23 tackles over the course of his team’s first two games, couldn’t help St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes to its first win of 2010 last week despite grabbing 3 receptions for 77 yards, including a 52-yard TD catch. The Saints fell to Bishop Ireton and are now 0-3 this season.
Kameron Mack, FS/WR, Norcom (Portsmouth, VA) - Norcom is 4-0 following a 47-7 win over Wilson last week.
Brandon Phelps, CB/WR, Damascus (MD) - Damascus beat Seneca Valley 22-16 to remain undefeated at 4-0 on the year.
Darius Redman, TE, H.D. Woodson (Washington, DC) - H.D. Woodson fell to Glen Mills (PA) 33-18 and is now 2-2 on the season. Redman was held scoreless after hauling in a touchdown each of the previous two weeks. In a win over Roosevelt the previous week, Redman had 3 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Clifton Richardson, QB/FS, Menchville (Newport News, VA) - Menchville lost big to Kecoughtan and remains winless so far this season. Richardson left last week’s game due to injury but did return. It’s worth noting a stellar effort from “Doodie” in Week 2 this season. In a 21-19 loss to Wilson, Richardson totaled 238 yards rushing, 109 yards passing and 47 yards on an interception return.
Caleb Taylor, WLB, Phoebus (Hampton, VA) - As usual, Phoebus is off to a great start. The Phantoms are 4-0 following a 70-0 win over Heritage. Taylor, who missed most of last season because of a knee injury, has amassed about 30 tackles through four games.
David Watford, QB, Hampton (VA) - Watford went 6-13 for 114 yards and a 15-yard touchdown pass as Hampton routed Denbigh 49-12. He added touchdown runs of 1 and 36 yards. The Crabbers are undefeated this season.
One of the top overall senior prospects in the country, Hermitage (Richmond, VA) linebacker Curtis Grant, will be in Charlottesville on Saturday to take in UVa’s home game against VMI. According to Hermitage head coach Patrick Kane, the visit will be an unofficial visit.
The 6-3, 220-pound Grant, rated a 5-star recruit by Rivals.com and Scout.com and TheSabre.com’s top overall prospect in the state, is considering offers from all across the country, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, Southern Cal, Virginia, Virginia Tech and many more. This will be his first visit to Virginia since his team participated in UVa’s 7-on-7 tournament this past summer.
Grant, a teammate of UVa defensive end commit Diamonte Bailey, plans to announce his college choice in January or February.
Twenty high school seniors have committed to UVa’s 2011 recruiting class. One of UVa’s top gets, Damascus (MD) CB Brandon Phelps, may attend Saturday’s game as well. Phelps is featured in an EDGE article today.
Stay tuned to TheSabre.com over the weekend, as we will confirm which prospects attended Saturday’s contest.
Also on the commitment front, the Baltimore Sun has a “Q&A” piece up on Boys’ Latin School (Baltimore, MD) defensive end recruit Marco Jones.
When news broke Monday that redshirt freshman running back Dominique Wallace left the football team for personal reasons, message board speculation immediately kicked into high gear despite the fact that Wallace remains enrolled at the University. The main guess about Wallace’s departure in those threads? Grades, or more specifically, poor grades. Fans may have been running with the “what is best for me in regards to my academic interests” line in the official news release.
Well, you know what they say about assuming. As mentioned in this article from The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, the decision isn’t about grades even though it is about academics. “When I was referring to my academics in that article I was referring to the fact that I can truly major in what I want to major in and that’s computer science,” Wallace told TheSabre.com on Wednesday morning. Wallace wanted to clear up the speculation among fans and he said he is not in academic jeopardy at all.
Wallace appeared in both of the Cavaliers’ games this season on special teams; he also had 2 carries for 5 yards against Richmond in the opener. Last season, he appeared in three games and rushed for 49 yards on 14 carries before being sidelined with a foot injury. He eventually received a hardship waiver for the year and redshirted.
The Cavalier men’s soccer team dropped a hard-fought contest at home Saturday night to the Demon Deacons. The lone score came midway through the second half, when Virginia suffered a pair of back-to-back defensive breakdowns. On the first, the Wake Forest shot went wide, but almost immediately after sophomore forward Andy Lubahn found the upper 90 on a feed from teammate Luciano Delbono.
“I had no problem with how hard we played or the mentality that we had. Every ACC game is like this, our Duke game was like this down at Duke,” UVa coach George Gelnovatch said. “[Wake Forest] capitalized on a mistake; they picked us off in our half of the field. We had a couple chances down the stretch here, their goalkeeper came up big and that was the difference.”
The second half looked like a completely different game from the first. Although there were plenty of hard challenges in the first half, the cautions flew fast and thick in the second with each team collecting three yellow cards. The Deacons finished the game with 20 fouls to Virginia’s 16. There was almost a scuffle in the Wake Forest box just after the goal; junior midfielder Jimmy Simpson committed a hard challenge, and a Wake defender was left lying prone on the turf. Both teams looked ready to get into it, but the only outcome was a card for Simpson followed by a card for Wake defender Luke Norman for dissent.
“It was a 50-50 ball, I’m in the box, and I’m going to go for it,” Simpson said. “It was a fair call, nothing against the officials. It was a good, hard play in the box.”
Junior goalkeeper Diego Restrepo had 5 saves against the Deacons, including one spectacular grab where he aired out for a corner kick and brought the ball down with one hand.
The second half was also marked by a greater sense of urgency. After the Wake Forest goal, Virginia turned up the heat on the attack. Greg Monaco, Sean Murnane, Felipe Libreros and Akheel Rodney (who both came on as second half substitutions) all had quality chances in the final 10 minutes of the game. Sophomore forward Will Bates returned from injury to spearhead the attack. Bates finished the game with two shots on goal.
“It’s kind of natural to push forward especially once you’re down a goal,” Simpson said. “The game is going to open up, balls are going to be flighted over the top. Everything opens up.”
The Cavaliers face American University at home on Tuesday. The next steps are to regroup from a hard conference loss, and to be prepared for every team’s best game. Virginia’s next ACC contest is next Saturday at Clemson.
“I think we’ve just got to get used to having that big target on our back, to be honest with you. We’re getting everybody’s best. I think everybody in this conference wants a piece of us,” Gelnovatch said. “I can go team for team; we took something from everybody last year. We took three games from [Wake Forest] last year so everybody’s going to come after us with something extra.”
The Virginia volleyball team fought through a first-set loss and two match points in the decisive fifth set, but came up just short of an ACC victory against Virginia Tech on Friday night at Memorial Gymnasium. The Hokies won 3-2 (19-25, 25-14, 25-16, 20-25, 13-15) to shake off the Hoos, losers of five straight after a 5-0 start. It was a disappointing outcome to most of the season-high 697 fans in attendance.
“We did a lot of great things tonight. We played well enough to win, we just didn’t play well enough to win at the critical moments,” UVa coach Lee Maes said. “Obviously the match ended up being a two-point difference. We couldn’t side-out at the appropriate times and gave them strings of points that ultimately cost us at the wrong times. What we take from this is knowing that we played well enough win, but again making errors at the wrong time will cost you. I like our effort. I like our focus. It just comes down to execution.”
Indeed, the Cavaliers looked great in winning the second and third set, but piled up too many errors in the other three to fall short against the visitors. The statistics support the notion. In sets two and three, the Hoos posted team attack numbers of .276 and .379 percent to go with 80 and 81 percent on sideouts. In the first, third, and fifth sets, however, UVa recorded team attack percentages of .129, .042, and .143 to go with sideout percentages of 45, 47, and 64.
That inconsistency proved to be the difference in the decisive fifth set. Virginia changed sides with an 8-7 lead before a Hokie surge flipped the scoreboard to 10-8 in favor of the guests. In the end, VT’s 71% sideout number and .269 team attack percentage trumped the hosts in the critical final moments.
“The biggest significance in this match and what dictated the win and the loss was how well each team served and passed. We were up 8-7 at the switch and we couldn’t side-out three points in a row,” Maes said. “Tonight’s match was indicative of who served and passed better. We won our two sets significantly because we were more proficient with our serve and pass game. Then we let Virginia Tech back into the match by making unforced hitting errors and not being able to sustain a level of quality passing as the match wore on.”
Note: You can watch the Hoos close out the third set 25-16 on The Sabre’s YouTube channel.
6-4, 225-pound defensive end/tight end Thompson Brown and 6-1, 205-pound safety/tight end/wide receiver Darius Lee will be teammates at the University of Virginia, but they were on opposite sides on September 11, when St. Christopher’s (Richmond, VA) took on St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Alexandria, VA). St. Christopher’s, where Brown stars, captured a 27-17 victory, but both UVa recruits impressed on the day.
Brown and Lee did the job on both sides of the ball. Brown hauled in a 43-yard touchdown reception – (you can see a picture of the play here) - to start the day’s scoring, and he would finish with seven tackles including a sack and forced fumble on defense. In addition to hauling in three receptions for about 90 yards, Lee was credited with 11 tackles on the day and added 65 return yards.
“I met him after the game,” Brown said of Lee. “Talking to him for a second, he seemed like a good guy. From a playing standpoint, I believe they put him at free safety. He had free range, so he could come up and make all the tackles. I thought he definitely was an athletic guy and a good football player. I was pretty impressed. He’s a good player.”
Of Brown, Lee said, “He was good. I didn’t know he was that big. Geez. I guess I’m glad I don’t have to hit him every day in practice just yet. He is also faster than some of my teammates thought. He’s a good player. I’m glad we got him. He’s going to contribute. On offense, he has wheels and he has hands.”
UVa, led by primary recruiter Jim Reid, is recruiting Brown as a defensive end. A terrific athlete with good speed, the St. Christopher’s star had a 76-yard touchdown reception in the Saints’ first game of the 2010 season. He certainly shows potential on offense but prefers to deliver the hits.
“I want to play defensive end, but I’m open to tight end,” Brown said. “I’ve actually always played running back and fullback, so I’m kind of getting used to tight end. I definitely like running the ball, but you don’t get as many opportunities at tight end. I do like defensive end more, but if they want to switch I will.
“They’ve only really talked about defensive end, but when I went up to camp the tight ends coach asked if I would go through some tight end drills. I pulled a hamstring running the 40, so I didn’t get to do the drills, but they did ask. I know Coach Reid definitely wants me for defense.”
After playing safety against St. Christopher’s, Lee is expected to move back to linebacker, the position he played as a junior and the position he is being recruited to play at UVa.
“The linebacker position I play in high school is basically the same to what UVa wants me to play because they can use my athleticism but also my size and strength,” Lee said. “I can play the run, but I can also play the pass like a safety. It won’t be much of a difference, I guess, besides the size of the linemen and the skill level.”
Both prospects caught the Virginia/USC game later that night and were pleased with what they saw from their future school.
“The USC game I thought was awesome,” Brown said. “I was impressed. I think of USC back when I was in the seventh grade and Reggie Bush was there. UVa hung with them. It was incredible. UVa played awesome. I think they will do well in the ACC this year and in the next couple of years.”
Lee said, “It was a good game. Virginia surprised me. Actually, they could’ve won the game. They showed me fight. They fought to the end. The game opened my eyes. I was impressed with their determination and the will not to quit. Their aggressiveness surprised me. They were hitting USC. My dad was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ He was pumped up.”
Lee appreciated UVa’s determination and toughness, traits the talented senior has learned from his father.
“My dad always teaches me to never quit, no matter how bad things are going,” Lee said. “He always says to give 100 percent and have fun. I do all that and it pays off. He helps me along the way. He encourages me. He gives constructive criticism.
“If it wasn’t for him, I don’t believe I’d be where I am today.”
Update: Thompson Brown had two receptions for 25 yards and an interception in St. Christopher’s 21-0 win over Benedictine Thursday night. St. Christopher’s is 3-0 on the season.
Long-time Sabre fan Jeff Yutzler volunteered to take a look at grading field goal kickers and the placement operation. Enjoy!
After each football game, Greg Waters puts together an excellent report where he breaks down the play of individual units and provides a subjective grade for each. Part of the fun of reading the articles is dissecting the grades with comments like “You praised the OL so why did they just get a C+?” or “The DBs left a lot of room for improvement so why did they get an A-?” Particularly difficult is grading the field goal kicking operation because that unit generally has a limited number of plays and the impact of a make vs. a miss can be substantial. How do you compare a kicker who misses an extra point and makes a 50-yarder to one who makes an extra point but misses a 50-yarder?
This question got me thinking how I would write an objective measurement for field goal kickers. It is harder than it sounds. My first thought was to simply add up the total distance of kicks made and divide by the total distance of kicks attempted. However, when I looked at the results, it was clear that this approach overly penalized long misses and insufficiently penalized short misses. I knew a reasonable measurement for a kicker rating would require a more complex calculation so I took a look at the factors that I wanted to consider. Here is what I came up with:
For made kicks, length of kick made should be a factor, but the factor needs to be scaled in such a way that the reward increases as the length of kick increases (the difference between a 50-yarder and a 40-yarder is greater than the difference between a 30-yarder and a 20-yarder)
For missed kicks, there should be a penalty but that penalty needs to approach zero as the length of kick increases
The results should be smooth so that the difference between kicks of similar distances is slight but measurable
The rating needs to produce halfway reasonable results even with few attempts – no divide by zero errors or other bizarre results
I also made a few assumptions:
Since we are evaluating the unit in isolation, extra points should count the same as 20-yard field goals
Bonus points for making long kicks start at 35 yards (for high school I would decrease this by 5 and for pro I would increase it by 5)
The penalty for missing drops to zero for kicks 55 yards and greater (again I would add/subtract 5 for high school/pro)
After playing around with the numbers for a while, I was able to come up with an algorithm that seems to come up with reasonable answers. I encoded it into a web form* so that one could enter the distances of makes and misses (separated by spaces) and click a button to get the grade. Try it out!
Applying the algorithm to our first two games yields the following results:
UVa vs. Richmond: 4/5 XP, missed 51 and 50 = 72% or C-
Richmond vs. UVa: 1/1 XP, made 36 and 41 = 100% or A+ (were you expecting something else?)
UVa vs. USC: 2/2 XP, missed 35 and 45 = 75% or C
USC vs. UVa: 2/2 XP, made 34, missed 47 = 93% or A
Next week (assuming I can get the stats) I’ll take a look at the results of some of our best kickers to see how they stand up. Which kicker had the best season? Jake McInerney in 1990, Rafael Garcia in 1996, or Connor Hughes in 2003?
Coach George Gelnovatch enjoyed the Virginia men’s Soccer team ‘s visit to the White House on Monday, but resented the effect it may have had on his team Tuesday night. “We had some tired legs. I mean the White House trip was great and everything but it took a lot out of us to be honest with you,” he said. “We had a game Saturday night, we played 110 minutes, spent all day on our feet yesterday, probably didn’t eat properly or drink properly. We were tired today.”
The team stayed busy visiting the White House in honor of their 2009 National Championship victory. After the festivities and photo ops on the White House South Lawn on Monday, the Cavaliers defeated MAAC foe Marist at home Tuesday night, in a 2-0 victory that turned rather rough in the second half; Marist had four fouls and Virginia committed seven. Redshirt freshman Marcus Douglas earned two yellows and left the game with less that three minutes remaining. Junior defender Greg Monaco left the game with what looked like a concussion after a hard collision.
“I finished the game in one piece,” sophomore midfielder Ari Dimas said. “It did get chippy at the end, very physical and I think we let them kind of do what they wanted with us as opposed to us kind of working around them and trying to play our game. In the end we were up two goals and they didn’t even get on the board, so good result.”
Both Cavalier goals, contributed by juniors Jimmy Simpson and Brian Ownby, came early in the first half. Ownby assisted Simpson on the first goal, while Ownby beat the keeper from the far post to seal the deal seven minutes later. In the second half, Virginia maintained possession, but was unable to create many positive chances on offense. Freshman forward Brian Span, who has a team-high 2 goals and 2 assists on the year, had a few nice runs down the right side, and was positioned in the middle for a couple decent crosses, but to no avail.
Tuesday night’s win brings the Cavaliers to 3-0-1 on the season. This Saturday, Virginia will face ACC rival and national contender Wake Forest at home at 7 p.m. Sophomore forward Will Bates, who left the game last Saturday at Duke with an injury, sat out on Tuesday, but should be back on the field this weekend against the Demon Deacons.
Near the conclusion of the USC game on Saturday, Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson limped off the field and was replaced by redshirt freshman Jake Snyder. Before then, there had been little rotation at D-End and beyond the starters, Johnson and Zane Parr, only Snyder and Jeremiah Mathis made the participation report.
Part of the reason for a limited rotation at defensive end has been the relatively thin depth chart in that spot. In terms of experience, D-End is especially thin. After all, back-ups Snyder, Mathis, and Brent Urban are all redshirt freshmen, while sophomore reserve Bill Schautz is a linebacker transplant. Urban and Schautz have not been available for substitution in the first two games. UVa coach Mike London expects more players to start finding their way into the rotation at various spots after the bye week.
“Brent Urban had a knee injury in spring practice and I think his prognosis is for the end of September,” London said. “And Billy Schautz will be in the mix here. He’s been practicing and been doing some things for me that I needed him to do in order to get on the field. So I think you’ll start seeing more guys getting in there and rotating a little a bit because we’ve got to get guys game-tested. The Morgan Moseses of the world; we ‘ve got to get him more reps to get him in the game because he’s going to play. He’s playing, but he needs to play more so we’ll have a chance to take care of that this week and for our upcoming opponent.”
The Cavaliers may also get a boost in the secondary, which has played well despite the absence of projected starters Rodney McLeod (safety) and Ras-I Dowling (corner).
“With this [bye] week, I feel pretty good about getting back Rodney McLeod and Ras-I Dowling, getting back guys like Aaron Van Kuiken who hasn’t played for a while,” London said. “I feel good about those guys resting up, getting healed, and getting a chance to contribute to our team.”