In the grand scheme of the sport, finishing 10-5 on the season is a relatively successful mark for a lacrosse program. However, UVa lacrosse's standard of success is a much higher one - one that values national championships, or at the very least, final four runs and conference titles as benchmarks. In that regard, while the 2015 team knew it would face a tough task in pursuing those goals, the resulting season was still a bit of a disappointing one.
The Hoos started off strongly, rattling off a 5-1 record with wins over solid Cornell and Drexel squads and the expected tough loss on the road at Syracuse. Following their second loss (at home to Notre Dame), UVa responded with their best win of the season, a 16-15 overtime victory against Johns Hopkins in Charlottesville. However, after a couple more out of conference wins, the Wahoos were in precarious shape, despite an 8-2 overall record. Precarious, because they sat at 0-2 in the conference, with tough tests in UNC and Duke to come.
While the Hopkins and Cornell wins were strong resume boosters, the lack of ACC success really would show UVa's stance as a premier team - as to be expected in the premier national lacrosse conference, and unfortunately for the boys in orange and blue, they would go on to drop games against the Tar Heels and Blue Devils. This left UVa out of the conference tournament and stuck playing Penn in the consolation "ACC/Penn Challenge" game. While the subsequent victory over the Quakers was a commanding one, finishing in last place in the ACC is absolutely a disappointment for the program - but UVa's out of conference domination was enough to secure them a first round home game in the NCAA tournament.
The home tournament game would end up being the final game for the Hoos in 2015, as the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays jumped all over the Hoos quickly - leading to a 7-1 early lead and leaving no doubt that there would be no repeat of their overtime thriller from earlier in the season.
Dom Starsia's squad was not only challenged by elite conference competition in 2015, but also some devastating injuries to a relatively young team. All-Conference level contributors Tanner Scales, who missed the whole season, and James Pannell, who missed the final nine games, both were sorely needed against the top competition - but luckily both return for the 2016 team - along with leading scorer, Greg Coholan. Starsia will have to replace key contributors like Ryan Tucker and Owen Van Arsdale, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this team's ability to score goals. Stay tuned to Streaking the Lawn for more LAX PREVIEW action and check the Hoos in their season opener Saturday at home against Loyola Maryland!