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THE BIG PREVIEW: No. 6 Virginia heads to High Point for midweek tilt

Hoos break into the top ten for the first time all season.

Towson v Virginia Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images

The Virginia Cavalier Men’s Lacrosse team jumped into the top ten this week at No. 6 after improving to 2-0 with a win on the road against Drexel. Virginia was likely aided in the rankings by Loyola (who UVA beat in their first game) obliterating Johns Hopkins, 12-5 this past weekend. Next up, the Hoos head to North Carolina to take on High Point tonight in Virginia’s first mid-week clash of the season.

This is the third time in as many seasons that the Hoos and Panthers have met, with the teams splitting the first two matchups. High Point bested the Cavaliers in Charlottesville two years ago in overtime, but the Hoos got revenge last season via an 18-12 win. HPU is 0-3 to start 2018, dropping games to No. 1 Duke, Georgetown, and No. 3 Maryland.

Face off is set for 7pm and will be streamed by the Big South Network.

High Point on Offense

The Panthers are averaging 8.33 goals and just 27.7 shots per game so far this season. Connor Robinson leads the way with seven goals, and freshman attackman Asher Nolting has 10 points on five goals and five assists. Senior Chris Young (four goals) rounds out the Panther attack.

In the midfield, High Point will likely go with their starters from the Maryland game: Mitchel Snyder, Keegan O’Connor, and Dalton Sulver. Snyder and Sulver each have two goals apiece on the season.

Virginia’s Scott Hooper will likely draw the assignment of Robinson, who scored four of his seven goals on the season against the Terps last weekend. The Hoos hold the advantage on the defensive end of the field as the Panthers are averaging over 16 turnovers per game and Virginia has caused 20 turnovers already this season. Additionally, Ryan Conrad has played solidly as a two-way middie in Virginia’s two games so far, and first year defensive middie John Fox has been outstanding.

High Point on Defense

HPU is giving up an average 16.33 goals per game in their three games this season, but keep in mind the Panthers have played two top-three teams so far and another receiving votes. Chris Price, Terrell Sands, and Joel Schwartz make up the starting trio for High Point, and they’ve combined for eight ground balls and three caused turnovers.

The biggest test for the Panthers will be staying out of the penalty box as they are the third most penalized team in the country, having spent 13 total minutes in the box through three games. Opponents are 8-for-16 in those extra man opportunities and Virginia this season is 3-for-5 (60%) when they have the advantage. Ian Laviano went scoreless against Drexel, but remains tied for first (with Dox Aitken) on the team with five goals this season. Matt Moore and Mike D’Amario each have three goals this season, and attackman Michael Kraus is always deadly despite just one goal so far this season.

High Point Specialists

At the face off X, HPU primarily utilizes Davis Sampere, who is 34-of-63 this season (54%). Against Maryland, Sampere won 17-of-31 (55%), so he’s a fully capable face off man. Monmouth transfer Justin Schwenk has been a pleasant surprise for the Hoos so far this season, winning 28-of-44 (64%). When he’s on the sidelines, back up man Luke Brugel has won 7-of-10 (70%).

In the cage, the Panthers have started Tim Troutner Jr. (15.9 goals against average) twice and Zach Tuell (17.6 goals against average) once. Troutner has played in both previous games against the Hoos, racking up 34 saves combined. For the Hoos, Griffin Thompson has gotten the nod for both games. Thompson has had a great start for Virginia, averaging 12 saves per game and allowing just under 10 goals per game with a save percentage of 55%. There’s still an outside shot that first year phenom Alex Rode sees some time, especially if it gets out of hand.