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Virginia Lacrosse Season Preview: Midfield

With two weeks to go before Virginia's season opener, it is time for part two of our four part preseason look at the Men's Lacrosse team. This week...the midfield.


Last week, we here at Streaking the Lawn took an exhaustive look at the attack unit for the Virginia Men's Lacrosse team. This week, I will be going all in on the Wahoo midfielders. Please note that the defensive midfielders will be included with the defense in next week's piece and any reference to 'midfielders' does not include the likes of Chris LaPierre et al.

The past couple seasons brought some changes to the way Virginia had historically run their midfield and attack. For the most part, Head Coach Dom Starsia and his offensive guru, Associate Head Coach Marc Van Arsdale, used four attackmen (Matt White being the attackman converted to midfielder) and only two midfielders.  In 2012, Colin Briggs and Rob Emery filled the midfield role, while Emery paired with Ryan Tucker last season.

This year, however, the Wahoos seem to have a more 'traditional' midfield that will feature some newcomers. Scoring wise, the middies notched 99 of Virginia's 179 goals (55%) and with only fifth year Charlie Streep departing the pattern, the Cavaliers return 93% of those goals (92 total).

Here's a look at the midfield crew:

Greg Coholan

Coholan, a redshirt sophomore, ran second midfield last season for the Cavaliers and had some outstanding moments.  He only scored five goals and two assists in the 15 games he appeared, but Coholan has one of the biggest shots on the field. He will most likely retain his spot on the second midfield, but keep your ears alert for my favorite exclamation of "Holy Coholan!" from the bench when he connects on one of his monster shots.

Ryan Tucker

One of two returning first liners from last year, the third year brings a big frame (6'2", 200 pounds) and big outside shot to the field for the Wahoos. Ryan contributed 15 goals and five assists , nabbed 24 ground balls, and went 5-11 (45.5%) from the faceoff X.  Tucker is by far the most vocal of the midfield, maybe even the team. You can hear him motivating his team from the sidelines and continuously through practice and warmups.

Coach Starsia will need big production out of Tucker (and Emery) this season, and having a full complement of defensive midfielders should help by allowing Ryan (and Rob) to get more rest than last season when they were compensating for injuries. Tucker will have to improve upon his shooting percentage (only 24% last year), but 64% of his shots were on goal. Shot placement will be key for Ryan on attack if he wants to build upon his sophomore season's numbers.

Matt Emery

No, this is not the Emery you are used to, and yes, they are related. Matt is the "little" brother of fourth year middie Rob Emery, but they are almost identical in height and weight (Rob has five pounds on Matt). Little Emery played for the South team in the Under Armour All America Classic, in which he scored a goal. Like most of Coach Starsia's recruits, Emery was a multi-sport athlete as a wide receiver and cornerback for his football team.

Realistically, Emery could see some significant playing time this spring. He's an all around athlete that fits well into Virginia's system, and if he is anything like Rob, the Wahoo fans are in for a treat for the next four years.

Below are some highlights from his time at St. Ignatius in San Francisco. Emery is wearing number four and has a particularly nice shot at the :53 mark.

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Rob Emery

Emery part two. One of three elected team captains for the 2013-2014 season, Rob will be looking to finish out his senior season with a strong post-season push.  With 22 goals last year, Emery was the leading scorer among the midfielders. He also contributed six assists and 38 ground balls, and was not called for a single penalty through Virginia's 15 games.

Rob is clearly a leader for the team on an off the field as evidence by his selection as a third team All-American, as well as receiving honors as part of the ACC All-Academic team.

Emery, similar to Tucker as mentioned before, ran a lot of defensive midfield last season due to significant injuries on the team. This season, however, Rob should be able to maintain fresher legs. The biggest issue Emery faced in 2013 (again...just like Tucker), was a low shooting percentage (26%) with 52% on goal. Both big middies seemed at times to be 'playing catch' with opposing goalies, so accuracy and placement will be crucial.

Zed Williams

Alright everyone, get excited. Never has there been more hype with fewer highlights for an incoming first year. Williams, a stand out at Silver Creek High School, is a member of the Seneca Tribe and up until showing up on Grounds for summer school, had lived his entire life on the Cattaraugus Reservation (part of the Iroquois confederacy).

Zed, or 'Zeddie' as Tucker calls him, broke just about every possible lacrosse record under the sun in high school. Most likely, Zed will run first midfield with Tucker and Emery, and that means an extremely potent and athletic group for Coach Starsia.

As I wrote back in July,

He broke Casey Powell's (of Syracuse fame) New York state points his junior season. Zed had four seasons in which he scored over 100 points, two of which he scored over 170 points. He literally did it all for his team, facing off and playing both sides of the ball, often for the entire game.

Williams, also an Under Armour All-American, played every game start to finish in high school so it could be interesting to see what he is capable when he can focus his time on honing aspects of his game. He moves effortlessly up and down the field and has an absolute bomb of an outside shot that will delight fans at Klockner.  Williams will be fun to watch as he matures and grows into the Virginia Lacrosse program, and I do not envy the opposing goalkeepers that will face a midfield of Zed, Ryan, and Rob.

Other Options

Coach Starsia has a handful of players at his disposal to fit in as he needs throughout the season. This list includes James Dahlheimer, Pat Glading, Jacob Dean, and Zach Wood.

Dahlheimer, a redshirt freshman, is a relatively unknown entity. Based on highlights, he is a strong, athletic middie who was another football/lacrosse standout at Medina High School in Ohio.

Glading is the last in a long and illustrious history of Gladings at the University of Virginia. Older brothers Billy and Danny Glading were both members of National Championship winning teams (2003 for both, 2006 for Danny). Pat only saw time against VMI last season.

Dean is another new face to the squad. This first year attended the same high school (Shawnee in New Jersey) as current Wahoo Chris La Pierre and received a litany of honors including first team all-county, all-conference, and All-South Jersey.

Wood is a beast of a player at 6'3", 195 pounds. He only played in two games last year (VMI and Mount St. Mary's), but his size and physicality could lead to more playing time this season.

Come back next week for a look at the defensive unit, to include defensive midfielders!