In just 12 short days, the No.11 Virginia Men's Lacrosse will take the field against No.7 Loyola to open their season. In the next two weeks, we here at Streaking the Lawn will prepare you for the upcoming season by previewing each unit (attack, midfield, defense, and specialists), recapping last season, looking ahead to this season and the ACC, checking out our new first year class, podcasting (with a special guest!), and making our predictions for the season.
Today, we're kicking it off with the preview of Virginia's attack. Each of our previews will feature "The Big Three" that we predict to start for the Hoos, a player to watch for, and some other options available to Coach Starsia.
The Big Three:
James Pannell - The sharpshooting fourth year returns this season from a lower extremity injury that sidelined him for the last nine games last year. Pannell participated in fall ball for the Hoos, and should be back to 100% for the season. Over his 2.5 (ish) seasons, Pannell has 57 goals and 16 assists. He had a six-goal outing against Cornell last year, showing his potential. If he can get back to that level, Pannell is a threat to score against anyone. He moves well off ball and has a powerful outside shot.
Here's highlights from his six goal game last season (Pannell in #32):
Ryan Lukacovic - Steele Stanwick, the redux (or on his way). Lukacovic shows awareness around the crease and has excellent vision. His second year (last season), he was second on the team in points with 22 goals and team-leading 27 assists. Lukacovic did have 23 turnovers last season, a number that should come down with more experience this year. He's particularly adept behind the crease, especially when he gets his defender hung up. Over the course of the season, Luka was one of the most steady players last year, notching a point in every game as the Hoos struggled with injuries on both ends of the field. His crease roll has improved and can make moves to the goal in one on one situations. His consistent play will be crucial for Virginia to see success this season.
Mike D'Amario - While D'Amario was used frequently in extra man situations last season, he could land the third starting spot this year. He only had three goals (on nine shots) last year, but has developed his strong lefty shot and can be a big asset.
Watch for This Guy:
Joe French - French is other option for the third starting position. He's Canadian, and comes with the box league moves they're known for. He definitely has the most flare on this attack, and can fit both passes and shots into spaces they have no business being. French saw action in 11 of Virginia's 15 games last season, scoring four goals and grabbing seven ground balls. He's very vocal and provides a great shot of energy to the attack.
Tyler Breen, Mikey Herring, Townsend Brown - The reserves for attack (or those listed as attack on the Virginia roster) are young with a first year (Herring), a red shirt first year (Brown), and a second year (Breen). Breen saw action in just two games last season, notching an assist in Virginia's rout of VMI. Brown, besides having an awesome name, was No.34 on Inside Lacrosse's attack rankings coming out of high school. He's the tallest player on the attack (6'2"), and could see some time at midfield as well. Herring comes to Charlottesville from Dedham, Massachusetts.