Monday afternoon, the official Twitter account of the Virginia Men's Lacrosse team (@UVAMensLacrosse...give them a follow if you don't already) confirmed the swirling rumors that Chris 'Shocker' LaPierre had, in fact, been granted his medical hardship waiver by the NCAA. This news means the sole captain of last year's squad has one more year of eligibility left, and he will return to UVA.
I'll pause so you can finish celebrating.
The now graduate of Virginia suffered a knee ligament sprain early in spring practice. Originally, the defensive midfielder was expected to return, but within a couple games, it was clear to both the coaching staff and the fans that the player they were seeing was more of a fizzle than a shock. LaPierre only saw action in three games, grabbing three ground balls and causing one turnover.
While his waiver was expected, the news is no less exciting. The 6'3", 210 pound, midfield monster will anchor the defense and most likely get more time on attack next year, as that was the plan for this season. After a complete season in the books with the new rules, a player like Shocker can really excel with the fast paced, high intensity, fast break heavy additions. Virginia often struggled on the fast break, and having their on and off field leader back in a prominent role should do wonders for the young squad.
Over his three full seasons (51 games), LaPierre has notched 20 goals and 18 assists, nabbed 206 ground balls, and caused 26 turnovers. Here are some Shocker highlights:
2010: He was third on the team in ground balls (51), behind Goalie Adam Ghitelman (62) and defenseman Ken Clausen (56). Not too shabby.
2011: LaPierre was named USILA Third Team All-American and to the All ACC team in Virginia's National Championship season. He also shot the ball so hard against Cornell that he ripped a hole in the net. Ripped. A. Hole. In. The. Net. The guy is a beast. Another highlight is his tribute to Randy "Macho Man" Savage after blasting one by AJ Fiore in the NCAA Quarterfinals, a goal which sparked a nine goal run and propelled the team past Cornell (again with Cornell...maybe he has a vendetta we don't know about).
2012: USILA Second Team All American. All ACC repeat. Although Virginia would eventually lose to Notre Dame in the Quarterfinals, Shocker ensured his team victory in the first round against Princeton by literally going Kevin Costner bodyguard style and throwing himself in front of Princeton's final attempt to tie the game. He took the shot straight to the chest, something no one should ever go through. I was speechless. The replays of that just embody what a selfless player he truly is.
So, rejoice, Cavalier fans! Number 44 will be back battling for ground balls, inhabiting the wings on faceoff, and playing lacrosse like it is meant to be played.
Other lax news...
Nick O'Reilly, the 2013 Honorable Mention All-American will not be returning for another season as his eligibility has expired. He was suspended for the season in 2012. O'Reilly will be missed, as he was one of only a few bright spots from this past season. His 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists) led the team and he was named to both the All ACC and the All ACC Tournament teams.
In positive attack news, incoming first year Zed Williams is reported to have shown up on grounds for summer school. Williams, a Seneca Nation member from Silver Creek High School in New York, is nothing short of an offensive wizard. He broke Casey Powell's (of Syracuse fame) high school points record. In his JUNIOR season. He finished with 627 points (370 goals, 257 assists) in his four years of high school. That's the kind of point production Coach Starsia could use on attack next season.