The Virginia men’s lacrosse team was inside the New Meadowlands Stadium on Friday afternoon preparing for its Saturday showdown with North Carolina when Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez made a surprise visit to the Cavaliers’ practice.
Sanchez, who will play in the new stadium this fall, was apparently checking out potential season ticket seat locations for his family. But he made a pit stop on field level to mingle with top-ranked Virginia, which was getting ready help open the new venue Saturday in the Big City Classic lacrosse tripleheader.
Virginia sophomore and former St. Anthony’s midfielder Brian Pomper, a big Jets and Sanchez fan, was in the shower in the locker room when he got the news the quarterback was around. According to Virginia goalie and Cold Spring Harbor product Adam Ghitelman, Pomper was so excited that he ran out of the shower and toward the field with shampoo still in his hair.
“He had to come back and wash it out before he could go back out [to see Sanchez],” Ghitelman said.
Sanchez spent some time on the field with Virginia throwing some passes around with a lacrosse stick. He had a catch with Brian’s older brother, Max, a Virginia senior midfielder.
“I heard they gave him a stick and he was actually doing pretty well,” said Ghitelman, a Giants fan who wasn’t as excited to see Sanchez and stayed behind in the shower. “Guys were talking to him about various experiences and he seemed like a real down-to-earth guy from what I’ve heard. It’s really cool when you hear stuff like that about pro athletes, especially a guy like that.”
After making a seven-hour drive to East Rutherford from Charlottesville, Va., on Friday, the presence of Sanchez was a welcome emotional lift for Virginia. The Cavs beat No. 2 North Carolina, 7-5, on Saturday to become the only unbeaten team in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse. Ghitelman had 12 saves.