The alleged murder of a women's lacrosse player at the University of Virginia by one of its men's lacrosse players has saddened Long Island, one of the sport's hotbeds. George Huguely, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Yeardley Love, 22. Police say the two had been in a relationship that had ended.

Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse coach Tom Rotanz called the incident "horrible," adding, "Two families are devastated."

"Lacrosse is a small community. I feel for them," Stony Brook University men's coach Rick Sowell said.

But Rotanz said he believed it was a random act. "It really has nothing to do with the sport or the school," he said. "I look at the players that come out of Virginia. I look at the great reputation of the school. It could've happened in any sport at any school anywhere. It's one person."

Virginia administrators have expressed similar feelings.

In a statement released Wednesday, athletic director Craig Littlepage said, "A part of their healing will be getting our students back into some of their routines. In the case of the women's and men's programs, our lacrosse teams will honor Yeardley by continuing their seasons. We anticipate both teams will be selected for the NCAA Tournament and they will represent the University of Virginia as they always have."

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Northport girls lacrosse coach Carol Rose called it a "senseless tragedy" that "is painful for the entire lacrosse community."

"My thoughts and prayers are with the UVA family, as well as the Love family," Rose said. "I can only hope they can find the inner strength to continue to play with heart and passion through the NCAA Tournament and honor their teammate and friend Yeardley."

Rotanz and another prominent boys lacrosse coach, Pete Mitchell of Comsewogue, did not think this incident would affect Virginia's recruiting on Long Island. (The Virginia men's coach is Dom Starsia, a 1970 graduate of Valley Stream Central.)

"Coach Starsia is a great guy. He's a friend of mine. I'm sure he's devastated," Mitchell said. "I wouldn't hesitate to send a kid to Virginia. I have the utmost respect for him. He runs a great program. Unfortunately, they're in this situation, but I don't think it's a reflection of the coaches.

"One of my kids, Nicky Russo, played there. He had a great career," Mitchell added. "He won a national championship [in 1999], but more importantly he ended up coming out of college and being a great young man."


With John Jeansonne and Chris Mascaro