Offense has rarely been the problem for Virginia Lacrosse. While they struggled at times in the 2014 season, the same could be said for Head Coach Dom Starsia's crew. They scored an average of 12.63 goals per game, good for eighth overall in the NCAA, but still behind ACC conference foes Duke (14.85), and Syracuse and North Carolina (both at 13.00).
Fourth year Mark Cockerton led the Hoos with just under three goals per game, which put him in 7th in the NCAA for the season. With Cockerton's graduation, the Cavaliers lose 23% (47 goals) of their offensive output from last season. This season, the Hoos will have no time to settle in at they kick off the 2015 campaign at Loyola-Maryland, ranked seventh in Inside Lacrosse's Top Twenty preseason poll.
On the bright side, Cockerton is the only real loss on the offensive side of the field (we'll address the defense later this week), and Coach Starsia has a trio of new players to add to the mix. Here's a breakdown of the attack:
Pannell brings back the biggest number of points with 39 goals and seven assists. He finished last season at No.25 in the NCAA with 2.44 goals per game. James converted 30.5% of his shot attempts, able to put away the close shots as well as owning a bomb from the outside. He already put away a behind-the-back goal in their scrimmage against Navy last weekend.
On top of scoring, Pannell caused eight turnovers and grabbed 26 ground balls while only coughing up 11 turnovers. In a great display of his versatility and accuracy, James went for seven goals on 12 shots against Syracuse last year. Check out the video:
Owen Van Arsdale
Now a fifth year senior, Van Arsdale (OVA) is ready to move back to his more comfortable position as a finisher. With Pannell and Cockerton last year, Owen found himself more of a distributor, ending the season with 11 goals and 27 assists and a 27% goal percentage. Expect Ryan Lukacovic to fill the role of the passer this season as the third starter on attack. Although OVA turned the ball over 19 times last year, he did record five caused turnovers and 31 ground balls.
This could be a huge breakout year for Luka. He scored 10 goals and had eight assists last season, seeing action in 15 of 16 games. He converted 40% of his shots, best for the attackmen who saw regular playing time (although he had significantly less than Pannell/OVA/Cockerton).
Ryan Lukacovic has the poise and field view to become a Stanwick-esque player for Virginia, and he will be crucial on attack this season. In the scrimmage against Navy, he dominated on attack, scoring four goals.
French, a second year out of Toronto, Ontario, brings some versatility to the Virginia attack. He scored five goals and dished two assists last season, converting over 55% of his shots. He saw action in just four games, but is primed to step up this season. He could be used in a fashion similar to early Garrett Billings, coming in as a 'midfielder', or in man-up situations.
Joe scored one goal in the scrimmage Saturday, a nifty, multi-move finish on the doorstep. Also, he worked well with Ryan Lukacovic on the attack. Keep an eye on French.
One of three first years to join the attack this season, D'Amario is one you could see frequently. A 5'10", 170 pound player out of Niskayuna, NY with a strong lefty shot, he was the No.14 incoming attackman according to Inside Lacrosse. Coach Starsia is a big fan of his play, and he has performed well in fall ball, scoring two goals in the scrimmage against Navy.
Another first year, Breen comes to Virginia from the Taft School in Connecticut. The 5'11", 175 Under Armour All-American came in one spot ahead of D'Amario on the IL top attackmen list at No.13.
Brown is listed as a 6'2", 210 pound attack/middie, so I'm going to include him here. He hails from Georgetown Prep, and was No.34 on IL's top attackmen list.