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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #10 Virginia Cavaliers

For the first time in three years, the Cavaliers reached the NCAA Tournament, with bigger things to come.

Matt Riley/UVA Media Relations

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete and fall ball just around the corner, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series yesterday with Syracuse.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#10 Virginia Cavaliers

Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 12-6 (1-3 in ACC play)
Postseason: Defeated Syracuse in ACC semifinal, lost to Notre Dame in ACC championship, lost to Loyola in NCAA First Round
Head coach: Lars Tiffany (2nd Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Michael Kraus (44)
Assists: Michael Kraus (39)
Points: Michael Kraus (83)
Faceoffs: Justin Schwenk (242-of-405; 59.8%)
Ground balls: Justin Schwenk (97)
Caused turnovers: Scott Hooper (26)
Goals against average: Griffin Thompson (10.61 GAA)
Save percentage: Alex Rode (49.5%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Scott Hooper (39 GBs, 26 CTs, 1 A), A Mike D’Amario (32 Gs, 3 As, 16 GBs), A Cameron Stafford (7 Gs, 4 As), M Matt Emery (3 Gs, 3 As), D Chase Campbell (3 GBs, 3 CTs)
Senior scoring departing: 53 of 366 points (14.5%)
Senior starts lost: 42 of 180 (23.3%)

Season Summary

Is Virginia back? They showed plenty of signs that they were in Lars Tiffany’s second season as head coach of the program with a bright future ahead.

Nonconference play started with the always thrilling meeting with Loyola to open the season, with Dox Aitken scoring the game-winner in double overtime. They defeated Drexel, High Point, and Princeton to end February 4-0, but they did have some questions in goal. Sophomore Griffin Thompson started the first three games before giving way to freshman Alex Rode.

March was a rough ride for the Cavaliers, starting things off with another ACC loss to Syracuse by a goal. They also lost star midfielder Ryan Conrad to the season earlier in that game, a big blow to their transition play. A couple days later against Manhattan, Virginia found themselves in a battle with the Jaspers. Tied at four midway through the third quarter, the Cavaliers saw goals from Ian Laviano and Jackson Appelt on a 3-0 run to lift them to a win. Shortly after against Stony Brook, Virginia gave up a 6-0 run against the Seawolves that turned a seven-goal margin into a one-goal win. ACC struggles continued with Notre Dame and after a six-goal win over Dartmouth, the Wahoos saw a 9-2 halftime lead evaporate by giving up 13 goals to Johns Hopkins and lost by two. To end the month, Virginia scored seven of the game’s final eight goals to beat Richmond.

The ACC breakthrough finally happened against North Carolina with a 15-12 win, ending a 1,498 day winless drought. But they lost the following week to Duke before edging a talented Vermont team by a goal. In a rematch with Syracuse in the ACC semifinal, the Cavaliers matched any counter the Orange had en route to appearing in their first ACC championship in a long time before Notre Dame trounced them for a 10-goal win. After a VMI win, Loyola got revenge on the Wahoos and took them out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Michael Kraus and Dox Aitken were the stars of the attack and midfield respectively. Kraus finished the season with 83 points on the season and was joined by senior Mike D’Amario and freshman Ian Laviano for most of the season. Junior Mikey Herring saw some time at attack, but was mainly used at midfield. Aitken was the only midfielder that started in all the games he appeared with the first midfield, and was joined later in the season by ACC Freshman of the Year Matt Moore and fellow freshman Regan Quinn once Conrad’s season was over. Herring, Mitch Gordon, Wade Maloney, and senior Matt Emery were notable contributors on the second midfield unit.

Scott Hooper anchored the close defense unit alongside junior Logan Greco and freshman Kyle Kology. Junior Zach Ambrosino also saw plenty of time on the unit and started in six games this season and senior Chase Campbell was used on the man-down unit. Sophomore Jared Conners continued his growth as the top LSM on the team with freshman Will Rock right behind him, creating a deadly 1-2 punch at the position. Short sticks were also deep, with John Fox, Dave Smith, Chris Merle, Matt Dziama, and Cory Harris being a part of the unit, along with Conrad. Monmouth transfer Justin Schwenk took the majority of the faceoffs with Luke Brugel serving as his backup. Rode and Thompson split time in goal, with Rode playing in nearly 23 of the minutes.

Looking Ahead

Virginia’s defensive leader is gone, as well as an attackman and a reserve midfielder. That’s really it.

The Cavaliers bring in another talented recruiting class, but also welcome back the majority of their team. Bringing back Conrad will be another big boost all-around, but it will be his final year in Charlottesville. The question that surrounds the team is at close defense and in goal. It’s not a surprise to see Virginia give up a ton of goals under Lars Tiffany. But if they want to be like the 2016 Brown Bears, they’ll need some solid defensemen and especially a dominant goalie like Jack Kelly was. They hope Rode can be that solid goalie for the next three years. 2019 could be Virginia’s coming out party.

Here’s who the Cavaliers will be adding to their roster for next year.*

Virginia’s Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Patrick Burkinshaw Goalie Brunswick (CT)
Jeff Conner Midfield Strath Haven (PA)
Payton Cormier Attack Oakville Trafalgar (ON)
Xander Dickson Attack Brunswick (CT)
Petey LaSalla Midfield/FO Rocky Point (NY)
Kian Olexo Defense/LSM Archbishop Spalding (MD)
Hall Peters Defense St. Ignatius (CA) (gap year)
Grayson Sallade Midfield Manheim Township (PA)
Cade Saustad Defense/LSM Highland Park (TX)
Jack Simmons Midfield McDonogh (MD)
Harry Wellford Midfield Avon Old Farms (CT)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will Virginia get in 2019?

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  • 5%
    (4 votes)
  • 17%
    (14 votes)
  • 43%
    (35 votes)
  • 33%
    (27 votes)
80 votes total Vote Now