The Virginia men’s lacrosse team is going to have an unexpected piece in the midfield this season as news broke Tuesday, January 19, that All-American Dox Aitken is returning to Charlottesville. Ty Xanders of Inside Lacrosse had the news first:
Breaking: three-time All-American midfielder Dox Aitken says he's back in Charlottesville and will rejoin @UVAMensLax next week, having spent the fall with @NovaFootball. Story coming on @Inside_Lacrosse.— Ty Xanders (@tyxanders) January 19, 2021
This journey was a long and winding one as Aitken, who helped lead the Cavaliers to a title in 2019, was set to use his final year of eligibility to play football at Villanova. The NCAA allows student-athletes a fifth-year of eligibility, as long as they play a sport other than their primary one. Examples of this include Loyola Lacrosse’s Pat Spencer playing one year of basketball at Northwestern in 2020 or Virginia Lacrosse star Billy Glading joining the men’s hoops squad in 2004-05.
Problem was, Aitken wasn’t actually able to play football at Villanova as the season was canceled due to the pandemic. Now that all spring athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility, Aitken has decided to return to Grounds for one last go-around.
“It’s gonna be awesome to be back and be a member of the team again, that’s the main thing — it’s gonna be awesome to see those dudes once my quarantine’s over,” Aitken explained to Inside Lacrosse. “I’m just so excited to be competing this spring with a great team, an incredible group of guys and hopefully we can stack some more wins and have a special year.”
Aitken has 121 goals and 32 assists through 59 career games and has set just about every midfielder record at Virginia. Aitken holds the single-season record for goals scored by a midfielder (44), single-season record for points by a midfielder (52), and career goals scored by a midfielder (121 and counting). He also reached the 70, 80, and 90 goal mark faster than any other midfielder in Virginia Lacrosse history.
There is no official schedule released for the 2021 season yet, but most likely the Hoos will get underway in early February. Aitken will anchor a midfield unit that has some new(ish) faces like Michael Bienkowski, Danny Parker, and Peter Garno and some familiar faces in John Fox and Chris Merle. On offense, Virginia loses Michael Kraus, but returns Ian Laviano, Matt Moore, and Payton Cormier. The Hoos will also have transfer Charlie Bertrand and redshirt freshman Connor Shellenberger — the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2019 — at their disposal.
Defensively, 2019 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Alex Rode returns in goal. He will have the help of all three returning close defensemen in Kyle Kology, Cade Saustad, and Scott Bower, plus All-American long stick midfielder Jared Conners.
Stay tuned for more updates on the men’s lacrosse season as they become available!