After making four straight Final Four appearances from 2008-11, the Virginia men’s lacrosse team is currently in the longest such drought in program history at seven years. As the third season under head coach Lars Tiffany is set to begin on Saturday in Baltimore against Loyola, the resurgent Cavaliers and their blink-and-you-miss-it, high-tempo offense are poised to put an end to that dry spell. How does their schedule figure into the equation of getting to Philadelphia on Memorial Day Weekend?
All rankings below are from the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook.
- 9th: at No. 4 Loyola
- 16th: vs. No. 13 Lehigh
- 18th: vs. High Point
- 23rd: at No. 14 Princeton
No. 8 UVA will be challenged out of the gate, starting against the Greyhounds for the sixth year in a row. Four of those five games were decided by one goal, and last year’s NCAA tournament game, Virginia’s first in three years, went Loyola’s way 14-12. I’ll be very surprised if it’s a three-goal game at the final horn for either team, but I expect LC to narrowly come away with this one. After that, it should be relatively smooth sailing — even if Lehigh is dripping with experience in all three phases. Fun fact: it’s the Hoos’ first game against the Mountain Hawks since 1906. Don’t overlook High Point...the Panthers took out No. 2 Duke already this season. Prediction: 3-1
- 2nd: @ No. 11 Syracuse
- 10th: vs.
Future UVA Coaches’ Prep SchoolBrown
- 16th: vs. No. 6 Notre Dame
- 23rd: @ No. 9 Johns Hopkins
- 29th: vs. Richmond
- 31st: vs. Utah (!)
As difficult as the middle portion of the month is, not to mention arch-rival Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, this stretch doesn’t spell doom at all. The Hoos were 5-2 on the road last year compared to just 6-4 at Klöckner Stadium, and I’ll give the nod to the Fighting Irish but not the Blue Jays (blown 9-2 halftime leads aside). I’m really excited to see the growth of the game out to a very nontraditional setting like Utah, as the Utes join Denver and Air Force as the only other programs west of the Mississippi River. Texas or Stanford next, perhaps? Prediction: 5-1
- 6th: vs. No. 16 North Carolina
- 13th: at No. 2 Duke
- 16th: vs. VMI
- 20th: vs. Marist
UVA beat UNC last season for its first ACC win since 2014, and I do think they’ll repeat again. Duke is always a tough challenge, and the Hoos have enough talent to compete with the Blue Devils this season. Can they win? 2020 in Charlottesville is a bit more likely. Prediction: 3-1
An 11-3 regular season would put the Cavaliers in solid position for a top-four seed heading into NCAA tournament play. I predicted 10-5 last year, and was a game off with an 11-4 campaign that would eventually include a win over Syracuse in Charlottesville in the first round of the ACC tournament. This is an exciting team with midfielder Ryan Conrad coming back from a torn ACL and rejoining the fold with fellow middie Dox Aitken and attackman Michael Kraus. Get to Klöckner as much as you can this spring.