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UVA men’s lacrosse 2023 roster preview

Taking a look at the projected starters, depth, and the team’s keys to success.

Maryland v Virginia Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

As the Virginia Cavaliers men’s lacrosse team kicks of its season this coming Saturday in Klöckner Stadium against the Michigan Wolverines at 12:00, we’re kicking off our lacrosse preseason coverage today with an-depth roster preview including projected starters at each position along with likely depth and keys to success for each positional group. Stay tuned to the site for additional coverage before the season kicks off on Saturday.


Projected Starters

Connor Shellenberger, Payton Cormier, Griffin Schutz/Xander Dickson

The face of the program and arguably the best player in college lacrosse, Connor Shellenberger is back for his third year on the field for Virginia with as much hype as reasonably possible. With Matt Moore’s departure, this is officially Shellenberger’s offense and his team. While the offensive depth is absurd, the ‘Hoos will go as he goes this season. He and big lefty finisher Payton Cormier have tons of chemistry and should be dicing up defenses for the third consecutive season.

Probably the biggest question mark for the ‘Hoos right now is who will take the third attack spot vacated by Moore. Griffin Schutz is the heir apparent, but his value as a dodger down the alley and as a step-down shooter along with Xander Dickson’s crafty play around the goal and activity in the UVA ride mean it’s not a foregone conclusion. In last Saturday’s scrimmage against Navy, Virginia reportedly rotated Schutz and Dickson at the spot, so it’s clearly still up in the air.


Xander Dickson/Griffin Schutz, Truitt Sunderland, Thomas Mencke, Will Cory, Patrick McIntosh, Ryan Colsey, Tucker Mullen

Shellenberger and Cormier have their spots locked up and no matter who fits into the third spot, UVA does have an immediate fourth attackman to plug in if needed. The #2 ranked freshman in the class, Truitt Sunderland, could also slide down in the case of a string of injuries.

Mencke, Cory, McIntosh, and Colsey are all talented players who probably will get some runs at offensive midfield this season or later in their careers (Colsey and Mencke are in their first and second years while McIntosh and Cory are in their third and fourth). Redshirt freshman Tucker Mullen is another name to keep an eye on in an Ian Laviano-esque role later in his career.

Keys to success

Shellenberger is who this offense will be centered around and his production against elite on-ball defenders could be one of the biggest determiners of the offense’s success this year. Last season he struggled at times (namely against Maryland in the NCAA quarterfinals) against the top-tier defenders who matched his physicality and didn’t allow him to simply beat them with his athleticism.

He’s undoubtedly still a generational talent and probably the most well-rounded offensive player in the college ranks who can put up six to seven points a game with one of the best shots in the college game, fantastic vision and feel for the game, and the ability to attack defenses from all over the field. But perhaps adding a bit more variety in his approach to dodging from behind the goal could take him to that next level of greatness.

Beyond Shellenberger, Cormier’s role is understood. He’ll kill opposing defenses off-ball and will demand plenty of attention which will make helping off him difficult.

That third attack spot will probably, to some extent, determine how the offense looks. Schutz at attack is the logical next step, but whether or not he can consistently beat poles from X will be a major key for Sean Kirwan’s offense in 2023. He’ll be used in other areas of the field as well, but much of UVA’s recent success has been centered on finding that second guy at attack to complement the #1 option. Think Matt Moore in 2019 complementing Michael Kraus, or Shellenberger complementing Moore in 2021.

If Schutz has a breakout year at attack, the Cavaliers should be the overwhelming favorites in May. But Dickson shouldn’t be counted out of the conversation. Considering that whichever of the two isn’t playing attack will be on the first midfield line and how Kirwan has coached this offense to be nearly position-less, the personnel and scheme will likely be very similar no matter who plays where.

Offensive Midfield

Projected Starters

Jeff Conner, Xander Dickson/Griffin Schutz, Thomas McConvey

All three of UVA’s starting midfielders return from last season and, no matter who bumps down to attack, Vermont transfer Thomas McConvey will probably slot into that final spot.


Truitt Sunderland, Patrick McIntosh, Peter Garno, Ricky Miezan, Thomas Mencke

Sunderland and Garno should both be second line midfielders. The questions for the midfield group involve how converted attackman McIntosh and Mencke fit in and how quickly Ricky Miezan can get back into the groove of playing lacrosse after the former #1 recruit in the nation played four years of football at Stanford and transferred to Virginia for the spring semester.

According to reporting from Inside Lacrosse’s Patrick McEwen on the Navy scrimmage, McIntosh was the fourth midfielder for the Wahoos (who played with the first line as UVA rotated Schutz and Dickson at the attack spot) while Garno, Sunderland, and Mencke were on the second line. Based on that, it seems like Virginia may have its top 10 offensive players set with Shellenberger, Cormier, Schutz, Dickson, Conner, McConvey, McIntosh, Sunderland, Garno, and Mencke.

The other depth pieces at attack could also definitely filter in here with Cory, Colsey, and Mullen potentially getting runs. According to Lars Tiffany, redshirt freshman Will Inderlied is “on the precipice of becoming an integral part of our team offense,” as a dodger from the midfield, so he could be an under the radar player to watch at the position. Of course, Miezan could very well push his way into the picture as the season progresses.

Keys to success

Assuming Schutz eventually fits in at attack, the three-man group of Dickson, Conner, and Vermont transfer McConvey should be really, really good. The versatility in particular is impressive with Dickson as the crafty finisher who can take a short stick defender from behind the net, Conner the two-way midfielder who has a good step down shot and plays well in two-man games behind the net with solid vision as a passer, and McConvey who provides size as a lefty step-down shooter but can also dominate in two-man games on the wing with childhood friend Cormier.

There’s very little this group can’t do. It will simply be a matter of how much each has improved since last season and to what extent they can initiate the offense and allow Shellenberger and Schutz to attack on the back end. If Schutz is at midfield, he only provides more options to kickstart the offense from up top or to run two man games behind the net.

Finding production from the second line and beyond is going to be critical for the Wahoo offense. That seems likely with the talent of Sunderland, the experience of Garno, the potential emergence of McIntosh and Mencke, and the sheer size and strength of Miezan. Obviously, the integration of Miezan will be similarly important and his rate of adjustment back into the game of lacrosse will be interesting to track.


Projected Starters

FOGO Petey LaSalla, SSDM Jeff Conner, LSM Scott Bower

Fairly straightforward here, LaSalla is the best faceoff man in program history. Conner should be the first short stick winger used considering his two-way ability, while Bower will likely be the first LSM.


FOGO Mac Eldridge, SSDM Grayson Sallade, LSM Ben Wayer

The top ranked FOGO in the 2023 class, Eldridge should provide an effective counter to LaSalla as he provides more size (6’1” 190 pounds compared to LaSalla at 5’7” 185 pounds). He might not be the second guy to start the season, but he most likely will come midseason. Meanwhile, Sallade is the team’s most accomplished SSDM and has been very effective off the wing in big moments while Wayer should split runs with Bower at LSM.

FOGO Gable Braun, SSDM Evan Zinn, LSM Tommy McNeil

The fourth year Braun may redshirt this coming season in order to be around next season after LaSalla leaves. If he doesn’t, he’ll close out a three headed monster for UVA at FOGO this year. If he does, he and Eldridge will be a good 1-2 in 2024. Zinn’s ridiculous speed on the wing is a big plus, while redshirt freshman Tommy McNeil should be a name to watch off the wing. Other names to watch on the wing are LSM Mitchell Whalen, SSDM Noah Chizmar, SSDM Danny Parker, and LSM Malachi Jones.

Keys to success

LaSalla is a known quantity at the X. He may not be among the absolute top tier of faceoff guys nationally in winning percentage. But, if not, he’s absolutely knocking at the door and is solidly in the second tier. His offensive production only adds to his value as he legitimately can stay on offense after the faceoff and contribute by exploiting his matchup against a fellow FOGO.

On the wings, the team is still trying to make up for the departure of LSM Jared Conners. The midfielder of the year back in 2021, Conners helped to make UVA’s faceoff crew quite dominant during his time in Charlottesville. Virginia wasn’t able to replicate his play last season, but the furthered development of guys like Conner, Bower, and Wayer should indicate at least incremental improvement.

Defensive Midfield

Projected Starters

SSDM Grayson Sallade, SSDM Noah Chizmar, LSM Scott Bower

Pretty straightforward here for the short sticks. Sallade is the veteran in the room while Chizmar was fantastic in his freshman season last year. They’ll probably be the first two pure SSDMs for the ‘Hoos, although the immediate depth is legitimate enough that two or three other guys could slot in here too.

Meanwhile, Bower should be the first LSM as his combination of experience, defensive IQ, and athleticism coming out of the box was on full display last season especially while Wayer was injured for the majority of the regular season.


SSDM Jeff Conner, SSDM Evan Zinn, SSDM Danny Parker, SSDM John Izlar, SSDM Mack Till, LSM Ben Wayer, LSM Tommy McNeil, LSM Malachi Jones

Beyond Sallade and Chizmar, Conner will surely get time at defensive midfield as he splits up his duties all over the field. Meanwhile, Evan Zinn and Danny Parker mean that the ‘Hoos can easily go five deep at the position while athletes such as John Izlar, Mack Till, and others can provide additional depth if need be.

The depth at LSM should be similarly extensive. Wayer’s back after his first two seasons which were riddled with injuries. While Bower provides the defensive soundness and aggression of the aforementioned Jared Conners, Wayer brings that offensive punch which Conners was so well known for. Those should be the two guys who dominate the runs at LSM, but senior Mitchell Whalen, redshirt freshman Tommy McNeil, and freshman Malachi Jones could all fit in as well.

Keys to success

The additional time that Chizmar, Parker, and Zinn have had to develop individually and within the program should mean this group automatically improves from last season. That collection of five guys has a number of special athletes. Both Conner (when he plays defense) and Zinn can be one man clears who can also jumpstart transition opportunities while Sallade and Chizmar can be threats to score themselves if given the chance.

The college lacrosse world got a great look at what having impactful defensive midfielders can do for a team with Maryland’s ridiculous run of success last season. This group won’t be on that level, but if they can take a step from being a decent, average group last season to the next level that could significantly bolster the Virginia defense and further improve the team’s strength in the middle of the field.

Close Defense

Projected Starters

Cole Kastner, Cade Saustad, Quentin Matsui

Virginia returns its three close starters from last season, all of whom are now upperclassmen. With the 6’5” Saustad as the experienced leader of the defense, the 6’7” Kastner as the lockdown on-ball defender and turnover machine, and the stout 6’0” Matsui as a veteran who can matchup against smaller attackmen, it’s a group that should only get better.


Griffin Kology, Jake Giulieri, George Fulton, John Schroter

The depth that UVA has at pole is truly ridiculous this season. While the Cavaliers are accustomed to going deep on offense, the collection of close defenders and long stick midfielders who could realistically compete for playing time is probably close to ten guys, give or take.

Kology, a transfer from Richmond and the younger brother of former Wahoo starting defenseman and National Champion Kyle Kology, the sophomore will likely start next season while being an immediate plug-and-play backup this year. Giuleri will most likely be a critical component of UVA’s man-down unit as his experience and leadership is incredibly valuable even if he’s the fifth or sixth close defender on the team. George Fulton could take a step forward as the 6’6” sophomore fits the mold of the lengthy defenders which the program has had so much success with.

Of course, there’s also John Schroter: the 7th ranked player in the 2022 class and the second ranked defender. Unfortunately, an injury kept him out of all but the first month of fall ball, so his adjustment to the college game may take a bit longer. That said, his potential is crazy as he looks set to be the next lengthy star defender in a similar vein to Saustad and Kastner. Standing at 6’5”, Schroter’s role on this team is uncertain considering how much experience there is. Should he be called on, however, he can be expected to fit in without a hitch.

Keys to success

While the individual defense from the ‘Hoos at close was pretty solid last season, the off-ball defense left something to be desired. Granted, some of that came in a pair of blowout losses to one of the best college lacrosse teams ever in last season’s Maryland squad. But, still, there seemed to be a lack of cohesiveness. Part of that was probably due to losing goalie Alex Rode, Kology, and Conners after the 2021 season.

Hopefully, with all defensive starters returning and then some, that will be less of a problem for the Wahoos in 2023.


Projected Starter

Matt Nunes

Now in his second year at Virginia, Nunes will hope to get even better after a stellar first season in net for the ‘Hoos. He stepped in pretty seamlessly after Rode left and displayed an ability to make point blank saves, be an active part of UVA’s ten-man ride, and make smart outlet passes on clears. He’s going to be the program’s starter in the cage for the next three seasons and there’s no telling just how good he could be at the end of his career.


Kyle Morris, David Roselle

Morris, the freshman, seems to be the next guy in line behind Nunes. He had 16 saves against Penn State in a fall scrimmage and, according to Tiffany, has shown everything the coaching staff hoped for. But, as the 52nd ranked prospect in the 2022 class would only get one year as the starter if he didn’t redshirt, he’s likely to sit this season out in order to take over from Nunes in 2026 and still be back for a fifth year in 2027.

Meanwhile, assuming Morris redshirts, senior David Roselle should be Nunes’ backup again this season.

Keys to success

While Nunes had a number of show-stopping, point-blank saves and was exactly the guy the team needed when out of the net last season, his overall save percentage was 49th out of 67 goalies nationally at 49.8%. He did and will face a lot of shots considering that Virginia plays at one of the faster paces in the country, but being more consistent in goal will be key for Nunes as a couple of bad games tanked his season-long numbers last season. Expecting more reliable game to game success would be reasonable for the high-ceiling keeper in his second year.