Virginia Men's Lacrosse 2023 Schedule Preview
By Aidan Baller,2023-02-05
Previewing each game on the schedule for 2023 UVA men's lacrosse season
Virginia's quest for a third-consecutive national championship came up short in 2022 as the Cavaliers fell to the eventual undefeated national champion Maryland Terrapins in the quarterfinals. Now, Lars Tiffany will look to get his Hoos back on top of the college lacrosse world as the 2023 season begins. UVA plays six ACC games in 2023 and a challenging non-conference schedule that includes another massive showdown with Maryland on March 18th in Charlottesville.
Here's a preview of each of the 14 games on the 2023 Virginia men's lacrosse schedule:
The Cavaliers will open up their season against the Michigan Wolverines on February 11th at home. Michigan finished last in the Big 10 last season after going 0-5 in league play and lost the last seven games of the season. Michigan's most notable win was an 18-8 win over Delaware, who went on to upset No. 2 seed Georgetown in the postseason. The Wolverines return their six leading point scorers which includes the attack of Josh Zawada, Michael Boehm, and Ryan Cohen, who combined for 193 points last season. This game will be a huge test for Petey LaSalla at the faceoff x against Justin Wietfeldt, who was 4th in the country in faceoff percentage last season at 61.5%.
The Cavaliers will then face No. 15 Harvard on February 18th. The Ivy league was extremely competitive last season with five teams making the NCAA tournament. Harvard’s most notable win last season was a 19-16 win against Princeton, who made it all the way to the Final Four. Sophomore Sam King will be quarterbacking the Harvard offense after registering 25 goals and 21 assists last season and is expected to take another step forward. Playing at Klöckner Stadium for their opening two games will certainly help the Hoos avoid an upset against two underrated opponents.
Virginia then shifts its focus back to the Big Ten with a matchup against No. 11 Ohio State at the Paradise Coast Sports Complex in Naples, Florida. The Buckeyes finished third in the Big Ten last year and return goalie Skylar Wahlund, who had a tournament-record 21 saves in their loss against Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament. Additionally, attackman Jack Myers returns this season, but without his counterpart Jackson Reid, who leaves a sizable hole in offensive output, something the Cavaliers should be able to take advantage of early in the season. To add to their losses, the graduation of faceoff man Justin Ignacio will be a massive loss for the Buckeyes.
After Ohio State, the Cavaliers return home to host in-state rival Richmond, who upset Virginia 17-13 last season after a defensive collapse and the injuries of Petey LaSalla and Matt Moore during the first half of the game. The mix of factors led to the Spiders earning their first-ever win over the Cavaliers. With the majority of the starting lineup for Virginia returning and the game being at Klöckner Stadium, the Hoos will not overlook this game and should be able to take care of business. Additionally, the loss of Ryan Lanchbury for the Spiders has severely depleted the strong offense that led them to the NCAA tournament.
Virginia then moves back to the Big Ten with a matchup on the road against Johns Hopkins followed by Towson back at home who the Cavaliers defeated 19-8 and 18-9 last season, respectively. Johns Hopkins is fielding a weaker roster this season with the loss of Connor DeSimone who was the spark plug to their offense. As for Towson, the expectation is that the Cavaliers dominate and allow bench players to earn some minutes.
Following an easier portion of their schedule, the Cavaliers host the reigning National Champions Maryland. After the Terps ended UVA’s season last year, the Hoos will have this game circled on their calendar. The Terrapins lose their top scorer Logan Wisnauskas and 297 combined points amongst several players which includes four offensive midfielders. On the other hand, Maryland returns preseason All-American faceoff specialist Luke Wierman who dominated the x, winning 44/65 faceoffs against the Hoos over the two games last season. Maryland also returns Brett Makar and Ajax Zappitello, two elite close defenders who held Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore in check in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Following Maryland, Virginia begins its ACC schedule against No. 6 Notre Dame on the road. The Hoos will also face the Fighting Irish to close out the season on April 30th at home. The Notre Dame roster is headlined by Pat Kavanagh, who led the team with 64 points and will be supported by his younger brother Chris Kavanagh, who was second in points last season. Last year, the Cavaliers shut down the dynamic duo and came away with a decisive win at home, but attempting to defeat the Fighting Irish twice this year will certainly be a test. Defensively, goalie Liam Entenmann returns for Notre Dame after an exceptional junior year which saw him lead the ACC in safe percentage (57.2%), saves per game (13.25), and goals allowed per game (10.5).
The Cavaliers will also square off against No. 7 Duke twice, once on March 31st at home and in Durham on April 15th. Virginia struggled in Durham last year, falling to the Blue Devils 17-8 which was largely due to the Cavalier defense failing to contain attackman Brennan O’Neil, who registered four goals and four assists. O’Neil received preseason All-American honors and isolating him is the key to success. Normally, isolating has proven to be an ineffective tactic, but O’Neil’s size and ability has made him an absolute nightmare for defense’s. On the other hand, the Blue Devils graduated goalie Mike Adler, who produced 20 saves against the Hoos last season. The other guys to watch for Duke are sophomore Andrew McAdorey and freshman Charles Balsamo who will be headlining the offensive midfield and have the potential to be a menacing combination. There’s also the minor storyline that Virginia hasn’t defeated Duke in the regular season since 2004.
Sandwiched in between the two Duke games is a matchup at No. 17 North Carolina on April 7th. Attackman Chris Gray, the NCAA all time leader in points, graduated last year leaving the Tar Heels with a gaping hole in their offense. UNC looked to freshman Dominic Pietramala, who was the No. 3 overall recruit in his class, to rejuvenate the North Carolina’s offense, but he will miss the 2023 season with an injury. The Hoos swept the Tar Heels last season and should look to extend their win streak against North Carolina.
The Cavaliers will continue ACC play on April 22nd at home against Syracuse, who they swept last season. There are a lot of questions surrounding the Orange and Coach Gary Gait coming into this season with last season’s top two points leaders Tucker Dordevic and Brendan Curry leaving the program. With their main offensive production gone, Syracuse will look to freshman Joey Spallina to ignite their offense. Spallina was the No. 1 recruit coming out of high school and will hope to be a positive sign of what’s to come for the future of this Syracuse team.
After Syracuse, the Cavaliers will travel to Lafayette who finished last season with a 4-11 record. The Hoos dominated the Leopards last season 20-10 and should be expected to once again control the game before closing out the regular season against Notre Dame.
The six-game ACC schedule replaces the ACC Men's Lacrosse Tournament, which has not been played since the 2019 season. The NCAA Tournament begins with the first round on the weekend of May 13th and 14th. The quarterfinals will be held on May 20th and 21st in Annapolis, Maryland and Albany, New York. As always, Championship Weekend will be on Memorial Day Weekend with the NCAA semifinals taking place on May 27th and the national title game following on Monday, May 29th. This year's Final Four will be played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
UVA opens the 2023 college lacrosse season against Michigan on Saturday, February 11th at 12pm at Klöckner Stadium.
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