The Virginia men’s lacrosse season kicks off this Saturday against Loyola, and it’s time to get into the positional break downs. For each unit — offense, midfield, defense, and specialists — we’re going to highlight some of the players that departed, some that return, and who is new for the Hoos in 2020.
Next up, the attack! Great news, everyone. Virginia returns 81.6% of its goal scorers from last year’s national championship team, including all three starting attack players. Unlike Tony Bennett and the basketball team, head coach Lars Tiffany gets his top three scorers back, and the benefit of that is not lost on him. “Tony [Bennett] lost so much, you know. Matt Moore is back. Michael Kraus is back. Dox Aitken is back,” Tiffany said at media availability.
“You know, if you took our three best scorers away, I’d be I’d be in tears over here. So fortunately, the PLL [Premier League Lacrosse] and the MLL [Major League Lacrosse] are not lucrative enough to to pull away guys out of their college careers. So we’re in a really good position in terms of what we returned.”
Virginia averaged 14.1 goals per game last season, but scored 13 in each of its final three games in the NCAA tournament. On top of scoring a lot, the Virginia offense helped the Cavaliers hold opponents to a paltry 71.1% clear percentage. Attacker Matt Moore finished with 12 caused turnovers, good for fifth best on the team.
Mikey Herring - Herring scored 17 goals and dished 18 assists last season as a fourth year, with six of those goals coming against Robert Morris in the first round of the NCAA tournament. His lone goal against North Carolina in the ACC tournament is worth watching on repeat (2:31 mark of the video):
Michael Kraus - Now a fourth year, Kraus is one of the best attackmen in the nation. He scored 39 goals and handed out 36 assists last season, earning third-team All-America honors and a spot on the All-ACC team. Kraus missed three games last season due to injury, but he’s a dynamic scorer and a perfect fit in the tenacious ride the Cavaliers like to employ whenever this group doesn’t manage to score.
Ian Laviano - Virginia’s leading goal scorer with 51 goals, Laviano enters his third season in Charlottesville as one of the country’s best shooters. He paints the corners and plays with the most swagger on the team. Laviano will draw a lot of attention of opposing defense, but he’s sneaky around the cage.
Matt Moore - My goodness what can you say about Matt Moore. The 6’2 third year from Pennsylvania moved to attack last season, and it paid off for the Hoos. Moore finished with the first ever 40-40 season (40 goals, 40 assists) in Virginia Lacrosse history as he scored 46 goals and dished 43 assists. His 89 points broke Doug Knight’s program record for points in a single season (86, 1996). He’ll stay on attack this season, and Coach Tiffany says he needs to be on the field at all times.
Moore was inexplicably snubbed from first/second/third team All-America honors last year, but was named to the All-ACC, All-ACC tournament, and All-NCAA tournament teams.
Who is New
Connor Shellenberger - If there is anything that says the Cavaliers are loaded on offense, it’s that Shellenberger — the No. 1 recruit in the country — is likely going to redshirt this season. Coach Tiffany said the shifty attacker is ready to play now, but (barring injury to the starters) likely won’t play. “If we stay healthy, we may not play Connor,” Tiffany said. “He may do a redshirt, but that’ll be one of those as we move along the season, that decision will be made later. He certainly could play right away.”
A local kid, Shellenberger played at St. Anne’s Belfield and was verbally committed to Johns Hopkins before switching to Virginia.