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2018 Virginia Lacrosse Preview: Goalies and Specialists

Face offs and goalie play will be pivotal for success of the Hoos this season.

Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

The Virginia Lacrosse season starts today, and we’ve had a chance to look at the attack, the midfield, the defense, and their opponent, No. 10 Loyola. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 15 to start the season and will have a real test with the Greyhounds.

One of the biggest pieces of not just this game, but the entire season, will be how the Hoos can perform between the pipes and at the face off X. Main face off guy Jason Murphy (54.5%) graduated, but otherwise the “specialists” remain relatively intact and only add new faces. Let’s get to it.

Goalies

Griffin Thompson, So. - Thompson was a savior last season, stepping up when needed and really improving as the season went on. His first start was against Notre Dame, but he got his first win as he came in in the second half of Virginia’s furious comeback against Cornell. His performance against North Carolina and Duke kept the Hoos in the game (kind of), but the offense fell flat.

Griffin is a good stopper, but may not be as quick on the release for transition (which is a Tiffany staple).

Alex Rode, Fr. - Get excited, Hoos. Alex Rode is the real deal. He was the No. 1 ranked goalie coming from this class AND the No. 10 recruit overall by Inside Lacrosse. This is one of the highest rated goalies in recent history and has a ton of hype around him. He has quick hands and a quick release, and could be a four-year starter for the Hoos.

Face Offs

Luke Brugel, So. - Brugel won 53% of his face offs last season (89-for-169), which is not too shabby. He’ll take over the brunt of the face offs this season, and can dish the ball well off of the win with five assists last season.

Dave Smith, Jr. - Smith is a multi-faceted player, able to take face offs and play some short stick d-middie on the wings. He only took 16 face offs last season, winning four.

Justin Schwenk, So. - Schwenk is a transfer from Monmouth who will probably be the second guy taking face offs. He was the MAAC Rookie of the Year last year for Monmouth, winning 52% from the X and picking up 77 ground balls, both Monmouth single-season records.

Short Stick Defensive Middies

Matt Dziama, Jr. - This guy is an animal. He hounds defenders and plays physically. He played in all 15 games for the Hoos last season, picking up 19 ground balls.

Says Tiffany:

“Matt is both a barbarous defender with crunching checks and a compassionate, culture-guiding leader. His merciless play on the field is counter-balanced off of it with his willingness to listen to others and provide both emotional and spiritual guidance. Our team’s defensive success will rely heavily on Matt facing, and denying, a heavy dose of elite opposition attempting to dodge him.”

John Fox, Fr. - Fox is one that Tiffany has been impressed with in his short time on Grounds, saying he has a nose for the ball and is working hard in practice and through the spring.

Face off is at 1pm and will be televised by ACC Network Extra.