The No. 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers kick off the 2020 lacrosse season this afternoon, welcoming No. 14 Loyola to Klöckner Stadium. This is the seventh straight season that Virginia has opened with the Greyhounds, falling in Baltimore last year 17-9. The good news for the Hoos is that Tewaaraton winner Pat Spencer has finally graduated and is harassing Big Ten basketball teams instead of tormenting defenses on the lacrosse field.
This is a great opening challenge for the Cavaliers coming off of 2019’s national championship run. Four of the last six matchups between these two teams have been decided by just a goal, with three of them going to overtime.
Matchups to Watch
Petey LaSalla vs. Bailey Savio - Possession...it’s important! In last season’s matchup, Savio won 15-of-28 (54%), with LaSalla going 7-for-15 (Justin Schwenk was 6-for-13). LaSalla took the majority of the face offs down the back stretch of the season last year, helping the Hoos in their championship run. This will be an outstanding test to see where the Cavaliers are at the face off X, and if LaSalla struggles, Schwenk and first year Gavin Tygh are waiting in the wings to help.
Ryan McNulty vs. Virginia’s Offense - The Cavalier offense this season is a bit of a “pick your poison” as they return all three starters on the attack, bring back Dox Aitken, and add faces like Payton Cormier. McNulty was Loyola’s best defender last season (65 ground balls, 25 caused turnovers) and is the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Second year Cam Wyers (17 caused turnover) returns to help, but Virginia will have to take advantage at whatever positions get the short stick defenders.
Players to Watch
Kevin Lindley (Loyola) - Lindley scored 60 goals for the Greyhounds last season, and is the pick for Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He’s not a distributor (only four assists last year), but the Hoos will have to keep an eye on him at all times. The Virginia defense graduated Logan Greco and second year Cade Saustad was dealing with an injury to start the season, so it’ll be interesting to see who gets the task of guarding Lindley. It’s possible Tiffany trusts long stick middie Jared Conner with the task, but at least Virginia doesn’t have to worry about Chase Scanlan (43 goals) until they face Syracuse (he transferred in the off-season).
Kyle Kology (Virginia) - As mentioned, Greco is gone, and Saustad is hurt. Most likely, two first years — Quentin Matsui and Scott Bower — will start alongside the third year defender. It’s pivotal that Kology has a solid game to anchor the defense. Loyola, like Virginia, likes to run-and-gun, and his ability to direct traffic will be pivotal.
How to Watch
TV: ACC Network