The Virginia Cavaliers are the 61st team in our 2017 schedule preview. The Cavaliers finished 7-8 overall, and 0-4 in ACC play for the second straight year. Virginia missed out on the ACC Tournament for the third straight season and fired head coach Dom Starsia and hired former Brown boss Lars Tiffany in the offseason. Let’s dive into their schedule.
The Cavaliers open up the season with their usual meeting with Loyola on February 11. This year’s game is in Baltimore, with the Greyhounds taking last year’s meeting in dominant fashion, 11-4. Virginia’s home opener is against another familiar foe in Drexel on February 18. They host Siena in Charlottesville on February 21, before they make the trip to University City to take on Penn on the 25th.
Virginia opens up March at home against High Point on the 1st. The Cavaliers will try to avenge last year’s brutal overtime loss to the Panthers. The team’s opens up ACC play on the road in Syracuse against the defending ACC champion Orange on March 5. The Cavs then travel to Costa Mesa, California to take on Cornell on March 11 in the Pacific Coast Shootout. ACC play resumes at home on the 18th as the team hosts Notre Dame in a night game. According to their website, that game will be on ESPNU, as will most likely the rest of the other ACC conference games this season. The month concludes with the Cavaliers making the short trip back to Baltimore to take on Johns Hopkins in another annual nonconference showdown on March 25.
Virginia begins April on the road against in-state rival Richmond on April 1. Last year, the team shutout the Spiders at home, 9-0. Three days later, they’ll host newcomer Cleveland State, before resuming ACC play by hosting defending National Champion North Carolina on the 9th. Their three-game homestand concludes with the final home game of the regular season against Robert Morris on April 11. The regular season concludes with their final ACC conference matchup on April 15 at Duke. Depending on where they’ll finish in the conference standings, Virginia will either play in the ACC Tournament beginning on April 28 in Durham, or they will play Penn again on the 29th in the ACC showcase game as the fifth place team from the conference.
Tiffany and his staff from Brown will probably face some growing pains as they get used to a new group of players and the challenges of the ACC. The Cavaliers lose leading goal and point scorer James Pannell to graduation, but the team returns Ryan Lukacovic, a starting attackman from last season. Tiffany returns Joe French and Mike D’Amario, and is also moving midfielder Zed Williams to attack. Virginia does brings in former Vermont Catamount Cam Stafford and former Boston College Eagle Lawson Pisani in as well. Pisani scored 70 points for the Eagles in the MCLA last year. The Cavaliers also have a top freshman in Mitch Gordon as well. At midfield, Greg Coholan has graduated. The team does return A.J. Fish, Ryan Conrad, and Matt Emery from last year. Virginia also has a good reserve in Phil Poquie, and also bring in top freshman Dox Aitken from Haverford School, along with other talented freshmen in Milan Murray, Wade Maloney, and Sam Offutt.
On defense, the team returns their top defensemen from last season in Tanner Scales, Logan Greco, and Scott Hooper, as well as Zach Ambrosino and Alec Webster. Freshman Jack Reilly from Conestoga also joins the team. Virginia also returns LSM Michael Howard, as well as bringing in walk-on Griffin Spolansky, formerly a student at Colgate, and freshman stud Jared Conners. Will McNamara leads the defensive midfielders, along with Jack Falk. Matt Dziama may be a candidate to take over the other SSDM spot that was left void by Carlson Milikin, who is now at Notre Dame. With goaltender Matt Barrett suspended for the entire season after he was arrested in the summer, look for either Ryan Montgomery or Will Railey to be the starting goalie this year. Jason Murray and Jeff Kratky will be the two top FOGOs once again.
How will the Cavalier players respond to a change in style of play after the departure of Starsia? It appears Tiffany has done a great job to make Virginia his team, especially with giving every player different numbers during tryouts, and even cutting some players from last year’s team and adding walk-ons. Scales appears much stronger than he was last year after he missed all of 2015 with a torn Achilles tendon, while Greco might be a huge presence on transition. Could Michael Howard be Virginia’s version of Larken Kemp as well? This will be a fun team to watch, but it might not reach its full potential until another year or two.
Virginia is the first ACC team to release their schedule. It took a few months, but our word has finally resonated to the teams in the best lacrosse conference in the nation.
To see every team’s schedule and which one’s we’ve highlighted, check our our master schedule list.