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The Big Preview: Virginia vs. Hopkins

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Hoos face Hopkins at 1pm Saturday.

Williams and the Hoos take on JHU.
Inside Lacrosse Photo: Jaclyn Borowski

It’s officially spring, Wahoo fans. Yes, I know it technically became spring on the 21st, but nothing welcomes the season like the Virginia-Hopkins lacrosse game. The #15 Hoos (5-3, 0-2 ACC) are coming off of a heartbreaking overtime loss to #2 Notre Dame, while the #17 Blue Jays (4-3) have dropped three straight games.

The meeting is the 92nd all time between the two teams, and Virginia has won nine of the last 14 matchups - including the last three, all of which were decided by one goal. Last season, Virginia won 13-12 in overtime and retained the Doyle Smith Cup thanks to a game-winning goal by Mike D’Amario.

Hopkins averages 11.3 goals per game, but in their last three games - losses against Princeton, Towson, and Syracuse - the Blue Jays have averaged just over seven goals per game. The Blue Jays are led in scoring by Wilkins Dismuke with 12 goals, while Shack Stanwick leads the team in points with 20 (10 goals, 10 assists). Sophomore Kyle Marr (eight goals, six assists) and freshman Forry Smith (six goals, two assists) round out the Hopkins attack. Expect to see Tanner Scales matchup with Dismuke as Scales has successfully shut down the opponent’s biggest scoring threat a few times already this season (Loyola’s Pat Spencer and Notre Dame’s Ryder Garnsey come to mind).

Virginia’s biggest test will be holding the Hopkins midfield in check. The Blue Jays play nine guys at the midfield, and those players - John Crawley (11 goals, three assists), Joel Tinney (nine goals, four assists), Patrick Fraser (six goals, one assist), Kieran Eissler (three goals), Alex Concannon (two goals, three assists), Brinton Valis (two goals), Cody Radziewicz (one goal), Connor Reed, and Drew Supinski - have combined for 34 goals and eight assists on the season so far. As a team, the Blue Jays have shot 31% for the season and average just over 36 shots per game.

In Hopkins’ recent losing skid, they have shot just 20% (22-for-110) from the field. While that should make Virginia fans breathe a little easier, the answer to the Blue Jays’ woes could come in the form of Virginia first year starting goalie Griffin Thompson. Thompson made his first career start last Saturday and jumped straight into the fire as he faced a formidable offense in Notre Dame. He struggled out the gate, only making two first half saves, but had an outstanding fourth quarter that featured some highlight reel saves. Despite that strong quarter, he’s only saving 36% of shots faced, something the Hopkins shooters may be salivating over.

Defensively, the Blue Jays start Nick Fields, Trevor Koelsch, and Jack Rapine. Hopkins doesn’t rely heavily on forcing turnovers as the trio has combined for 17 caused turnovers through seven games (for reference, Virginia’s Scott Hooper has 17 caused turnovers in eight games so far). As a team, however, Hopkins is averaging just over six caused turnovers per game (UVA averages 9.6). Goalkeeper Gerald Logan is saving just under 50% of shots faced, and allows 9.64 goals per game.

Goalie play, groundballs, and faceoffs will once again be key for Virginia, and the Hoos should have the advantage at the X. Hopkins wins just 41% as a team, with Craig Madarasz taking the majority of faceoffs on the season and going 46-120 (38.3%). Conversely, Virginia is winning 56.9% on the season, led by Jason Murphy at 58.7% (91-for-155). Off the ground, Virginia leads the NCAA with an average of 48.5 groundballs per game (JHU is tied for 55th with 25.6 per game). Virginia’s Ryan Conrad leads the team with 41 groundballs on the season.

Virginia comes into Saturday’s game scoring 15.5 goals per game - good for third in the NCAA - and lead the country in assists per game. D’Amario leads the Hoos with 22 goals, followed closely by first years Michael Kraus (21 goals, 18 assists) and Dox Aitken (20 goals). Zed Williams (16 goals, 20 assists) leads the team in assists. Ryan Lukacovic (10 goals, 10 assists) and Conrad (10 goals) round out Virginia’s double-digit scorers. Kraus is coming off of a five goal, two assist performance against Notre Dame’s best defender in Garrett Epple, and is averaging 4.88 points per game (10th best in the NCAA).

Catch all the action on ESPN3 at 1pm and go Hoos!