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Virginia at Loyola: The Big Preview

Hoos open 2017 on the road at #5 Loyola

Hoos open at Loyola
Inside Lacrosse Photo: Jaclyn Borowski

This is officially it. The beginning of the Lars Tiffany era. For nearly a quarter century, the Virginia men’s lacrosse program was headed by Dom Starsia who saw the Hoos win four NCAA titles (1999, 2003, 2006, and 2011) en route to becoming the winningest coach in division one history. Over the last week, we’ve introduced you to Virginia’s new looks on attack, midfield, and defense. The #15 Cavaliers will be tested as they implement Tiffany’s high-speed, up-tempo scheme and head to Baltimore to face the #5 Loyola Greyhounds. To add another storyline to the mix, Virginia’s former offensive coordinator and assistant coach - Marc Van Arsdale - is with Loyola in the same position.

The Hoos lost to Loyola in their 2016 season opener in Charlottesville, 11-4, en route to a 7-8 (0-4 ACC) season where they missed out on the postseason. Loyola, led by head coach Charley Toomey, went 14-4 with a loss to UNC (the 2016 national champs) ending their season in the NCAA semifinals.

Sophomore Pat Spencer leads the Greyhound attack, coming off of a stellar freshman season where he had 37 goals and 52 assists. He’s versatile both on and off ball, and had two goals and two assists against the Hoos in Charlottesville. Most likely, senior defenseman Tanner Scales will draw Spencer, who is Loyola’s returning leader in points, goals, and assists.

The Greyhounds will be without Zach Herreweyers (as all media breathe a sigh of relief not having to spell Herreweyers anymore), who graduated last year. He was tied with goals scored on the team with 37.

In the midfield, a couple names to know are seniors Romar Dennis and Brian Sherlock. Dennis had 15 goals and five assists last season. He is extraordinarily athletic, but has issues finishing around the goal. Sherlock chipped in 24 goals and 13 assists in his junior season and has been a team co-captain since his sophomore year. All three years of his career so far, he’s been named to the All-Patriot League First Team, including a unanimous selection last season. He’s a threat from outside, but can dish the ball as well.

On defense, Loyola returns Foster Huggins who led the Greyhounds with 23 caused turnovers and started in all 18 of their games last season. He had a penchant for committing fouls, spending a team-high (by far) 8.5 minutes in the penalty box. Jack Carrigan is another big player back on defense, who played in and started 15 games for Coach Toomey. Carrigan had 37 ground balls and 22 caused turnovers last season.

At the faceoff X, Loyola returns Graham Savio as their primary. Savio went 169-for-320 (52.8%) on the season in 2016. With Tiffany’s fast-paced scheme, the faceoffs and goalie play will be a big factor in this matchup. In goal, Loyola returns Sophomore Jacob Stover who went 10-2 with a 57% save percentage, as well as junior Grant Limone, who played started seven games and played in 10, including their final game of the season when Stover struggled. Limone had a 48% save percentage last season.

With Loyola’s high-powered offense and Virginia’s new scheme defense (and new goalie), this game will be a tough test for Tiffany’s men. Loyola shot an average of 40 shots per game, scoring just shy of 11 goals per game.

The game starts at 1pm in Baltimore, and will be broadcast on Twitter (first time ever!).