Believe it or not, the time has come for lacrosse season to kick off as the Hoos welcome No. 10 Loyola to town Saturday to open the 2018 season. Virginia, ranked No. 15 in the first Maverik Men’s Division I Media Poll, is entering the second year under head coach Lars Tiffany and looking to improve on last season’s 8-7 mark.
In order to get you ready for Saturday’s game, we’re going to preview all of Virginia’s personnel, take a look back at Coach Tiffany’s first season, and deep-dive into the matchup with the Greyhounds. Today, we’ll kick everything off with Virginia’s offense.
The Cavaliers graduated three big pieces: the team’s second leading points scorer in Zed Williams with 27 goals and 25 assists, Ryan Lukacovic (17 goals, 18 assists), and Joe French (19 goals, five assists). They do bring back some big scorers this season.
Let’s get into it.
The Big Three
Michael Kraus, So. - Kraus was a revelation on offense last season, scoring a team high 34 goals and adding 22 assists (second on the team) for 56 points. He was the lone freshman on the All-ACC team, was named an honorable mention All-American, and earned the ACC Rookie of the Year title, the first for Virginia since Tanner Scales in 2013.
Now in his second season, expect the 5’11, 195lb. Kraus to be the focus of opponents game planning. The lefty sharpshooter can score in a variety of ways, hitting corners from the outside, mid-range shots, and on the doorstep. He’s outstanding in the two-man game, able to pick and roll seamlessly. As a threat to pass and score, he’s a nightmare for opposing defenses. Kraus can also create his own shot, making him dangerous in one-on-one situations.
Kraus was Virginia’s 2017 Offensive MVP, something Coach Tiffany said was a, “rarity for a first-year”.
Check out these highlights from the matchup with Notre Dame last season where he does a little bit of everything:
Mike D’Amario, Sr. - Now in his fourth year, D’Amario will be a huge piece on the Virginia offense. He has progressed from a guy who played mostly man up situations in his first year to someone who was second on the team in goals (32) and third on the team in points (43) last season.
Per Tiffany and the Virginia Sports site, “Mike has developed his game to become a serious threat dodging to the goal. He combines crafty stick protection with a willingness to take a hard check.”
He can play with some flash, but also is an extremely accurate shooter with a team high (among players with at least 30 shots) 41.6% shot percentage.
Mikey Herring, Jr. - This third spot is relatively open, but Herring is a guy that you will see a lot of this season. Tiffany had high praise for the shifty attackman from Dedham, Massachusetts:
“His radar is always on, probing the opposing defense for holes and opportunities to set up others for their shot. Mikey’s sound understanding of the game and our schemes makes him a compelling option in all of Sean Kirwan’s offensive designs.”
Herring saw action in 12 of Virginia’s 15 games last season and scored four goals on 10 shots. He also added five assists.
Names to Watch
Ian Laviano, Fr. - Laviano, out of Cold Spring Harbor High School (NY), is the No. 15 rated attackman in this class per Inside Lacrosse. He’s a very quick player, but could benefit from some time with Virginia’s strength and conditioning group as he’s just 5’8, 175 lbs.
“Does anyone come to practice with more energy and excitement? Or is anyone else firing the ball faster at teammates and expecting the same in return? Ian has made a splash with our program in his first year on Grounds, playing with a startling amount of pizzazz. Ian combines an astute lacrosse knowledge with exceptional hand and foot quickness. His teammates are recognizing Ian’s abilities and they are enjoying being on his same line.”
Mitch Gordon, So. - Gordon is a big kid (6’2, 190) and brings brute strength to the Cavaliers’ offense. He played in eight games last season for Tiffany as a first year, scoring two goals and one assist. He was the No. 18 ranked attackman in last year’s class, but found himself waiting in line behind Williams, Lukacovic, Kraus, D’Amario, French, and Herring. Now with more opportunities to shine, Gordon could be a big piece for the Hoos.