Coach Starsia has always had a knack for recruiting excellent midfielders. Chris Rotelli, Conor Gill, AJ Shannon, Kyle Dixon, Colin Briggs, Brian Carroll, and Rob Emery come to mind off-hand.
This season is no different. In a year that sees a lot of young and inexperienced players all over the field, the middies have a solid foundation to build off of. Rob Emery graduated, taking his 14 goals and five assists from 2014 with him, but that's basically it. The Hoos return a lot of big players, and bring in a couple of fresh faces to complement.
The D-Middies and Long-Stick Middies will be included in tomorrow's Goalie/Specialists category.
Here's a breakdown of the midfield:
I cannot believe he is already a fourth year. It seems like yesterday Tucker took the field for the first time as a 'Hoo. A captain this season, Ryan is poised to dominate the midfield for Virginia. He's the most experienced of the group, and will run the first line with Zed Williams and any combination of Tyler German and Greg Coholan. Tucker finished last season with 24 goals and six assists, the most production for any middie on the team.
Tucker improved his shooting, converting 40% of his shots, and was named an Inside Lacrosse Preseason Third Team All-American for the upcoming year. He scored one goal in the preseason scrimmage with Navy.
Drafted fourth overall in the MLL Collegiate Draft, Tucker will be playing for his father with the Boston Cannons when the season ends.
Check out Tucker scoring to tie the game at the end of regulation against Loyola to force overtime last season:
Holy Coholan. Greg has one of the hardest shots from the outside, and he really made a big jump last season with a balanced 13 goals and 14 assists. Also a captain, Coholan brings back experience and solid decision making (only 9 TOs all of last season). He scored a career-high three goals, including the OT winner, against Johns Hopkins last season, showing his skills. Now a third year, Coholan is also a captain and will need to take a bigger leadership role on this year's team. He will get significant reps on the first line midfield.
German is the third midfielder captain (the fourth captain is Van Arsdale on attack), showing how much experience this group has and how much the team will be looking to the midfield to control the game. Tyler scored 12 goals and dished five dimes last season, shooting 34% on the season. He went 3-9 on faceoffs, and grabbed 12 ground balls. Expect Tyler to run on the first midfield, splitting with Coholan, and also flanking on the wings at faceoff.
Get excited. This is going to be Zed's year. He will run first midfield with Tucker and Coholan/German, and has the full green light to open up his game this year. Zed had six goals and nine assists last season as he became accustomed to life in Charlottesville, but showed glimpses and flashes of the brilliance hiding just under the surface.
Zed scored two goals and handed out a couple assists in the scrimmage against Navy, handling the defense thrown at him with ease. He moves effortlessly on the field, making full speed look like a casual stroll until you realize he just left everyone in the dust. Coach Starsia expects big things from Williams this season, but won't put all the pressure on him alone.
Coach Starsia and the Hoos have a bevy of strong, athletic players in the midfield. Expect to see a lot of Zach Wood (5g, 1a last season) and AJ Fish (2g, 1a), as well as increased playing time for second year Jacob Dean and RS freshman Matt Emery (yes, "little" bro to Rob). Virginia added first years Cory Harris, Will Sipperly, Brandon Johnson, and Harry Gillespie (we will have more background on all the first years later this week!) as well.
In the scrimmage with Navy, the offense seemed to flow more through the midfield than the attack, using Williams/German/Coholan/Tucker to control play and dish to the attack. Some of the middies will play as two-way midfielders, staying on to play some defense as the game demands, but with the skill Coach Starsia has on the defensive-middie end, that should be limited.
Catch up with the rest of our #LaxWeek coverage, and check back tomorrow for more posts!