The 2017 Virginia Lacrosse season starts this Saturday as the #15 Hoos head to Baltimore to face #5 Loyola. In order to get you all ready to watch the first ever lacrosse game streamed on Twitter, we are going to break down the attack, midfield and defensive units for Virginia, including highlighting the “big three” and mentioning some other “names to know”. First up, the attack!
Virginia’s attack will have a new look this season as Lars Tiffany has taken over the reins from Dom Starsia and will utilize some players differently. The Hoos lost their leading goal scorer with the graduation of James Pannell (33 goals, 11 assists), but return the rest of the main attack players.
The Big Three
Zed Williams - No, you’re not misreading this. Zed, who played midfield his first three seasons with the Hoos, is moving to attack. Williams has 48 goals and 31 assists in his career in Charlottesville, but will be asked to do more offensively under Tiffany. Zed is more than capable of ripping a shot from outside, and his stick skills and ability to finish in close spaces will make him a threat on the crease. Either way, Coach Tiffany wants him involved: “Having moved to the attack position, Zed is being asked to play with few restrictions, allowing his creativity to flourish unabashedly. Exceptional at the two-man game as well, Zed has the unique ability and style that complement most of his teammates.”
Ryan Lukacovic - Lukacovic, now a fourth year, is the quarterback for the Hoos. He amassed 20 goals and 16 assists for Virginia last season, and is one of the captains (as voted by the team) for the 2017 season. He’s a heady player, and may also see some time as an attack player on the first midfield line. Lukacovic spent his summer biking across the country with fellow fourth year and defender Michael Rhoads to raise money for the One Love Foundation, something that impressed his new head coach.
Joe French - To round out the (projected) starters on attack, I’m going with fourth year Joe French. He’s a shifty player on attack and brings true joy and energy to the team. French is from Toronto, Canada, and has impeccable ball control and the ability to finish on the crease or bomb the goal from outside. Mainly used in extra man opportunities by Coach Starsia, Coach Tiffany seems poised to give him a bigger role.
He’s also a trickster, and has great chemistry with Williams.
Watch for These Guys
Mitch Gordon - Gordon got the start in Virginia’s scrimmage against Maryland and played a lot of reps. He’s the #18 overall attackman in the freshman class, according to Inside Lacrosse. According to Coach Tiffany, “Mitch has demonstrated both savviness and slick play on the practice field. Stating he is skilled is an understatement.” I expect to see him on the field for the Hoos a lot, especially if Tiffany utilizes one of the other traditionally attack players as a midfielder. I also like the size (6-2, 200 pounds) Gordon brings to the attack.
Michael Kraus - Another top-notch recruit for the Hoos as Kraus was rated the #7 attackman in the country by Inside Lacrosse. He was an Under Armour All-American and ran the X at times against Maryland in the scrimmage, scoring two goals. With the preponderance of fourth years in the projected starting lineup, getting playing time for Kraus (and Gordon) is crucial as the Hoos go forward.
Mike D’Amario and Mikey Herring are viable options off the bench for the Hoos. D’Amario had 16 goals and four assists last season, as Herring added one goal and four assists as a first year. Cameron Stafford (third year) and Lawson Pisani (second year) round out the attackmen on the roster. Stafford played at Vermont under former UVA standout Ryan Curtis and was named to the 2016 America East All-Tournament team.