Firstly, this is all I'm going to say about last season: Craptastic. That about covers it.
UVA lacrosse is certainly the type of program we Hoo fans want the football and basketball programs to become. That is, we don't rebuild, we reload. Graduating the Stanwicks and Bocklets over the years has never been reason to think the team won't be competing for the ACC and NCAA titles each season. However, such lofty expectations lead to bitter disappointment at anything less than dominant victories (see: last year's recap). This season, the team finds itself ranked 9th in most of the preseason polls - a fairly high ranking for most sports and teams, until you consider it's behind Maryland, Duke, and UNC (but ahead of Syracuse! Hah! Suck it, Cuse!). So the Hoos face stiff competition in this year's battle for national prominence, but that's nothing new. What is new? Glad you asked:
New Goalie! Everyone loves to forget about the goalkeeper until he starts letting too many balls get by him - but Hoofans will have to wait to see which pair of sweatpants to cheer/curse this season. My money's on uber-recruit freshman Dan Marion (LACES OUT).
|Are you intimidated? I'm intimidated.|
New Rules! No more stall warning when a team with the lead is dillydallying with the ball for too long. Instead, when the refs arbitrarily decide they've seen enough dawdling, they'll call for the imaginary 30 second shot clock. The team will then have 30 seconds (again, subject to start when the refs feel like it) to take an ON GOAL shot. This means the shot must hit the goalie, cage, or go in for the shot clock to end. If the shot hits a post or goalie and the offense maintains possession, the count doesn't start again until the refs see them screwing around some more. Interestingly, UVA has a reputation historically as a run-and-gun, high-flying offensive scoring machine, as well as a team that stalls too much when we get the lead. Look for the new rules to only benefit the Wahoos, as it fits our style and we have the best coach in the country so all new rules will be to our benefit by default. No word still on how officials will exactly determine if a team is like totally not trying hard enough.
New Scoring Threats! Well Steele Stanwick has left us to go pursue his destiny as a international man of mystery, so who's going to put the ball in the back of the net? Look no further than the familiar names of Matt White, Mark Cockerton, and Owen Van Arsdale. Matt White is my best guess for future team leader in goals, only because I think he's the most skilled at the task. But as we saw last year, Matt could play a lot in the midfield, which, as Dom puts it, presents a serious matchup problem. Might that keep the goal tallies down? Doubt it.
|Bucknell knows who Matt White is. You should too.|
New Star! Ok so let us assume we've got Stanwick's scoring made up for now that he's fighting al-Queda and Chinese hackers. Who is going to step into his role as STAR PLAYER? The best bet here is easily Chris LaPierre. Why? Because Thor the God of Thunder didn't create Chris LaPierre to be the supporting actor in his final dance. (The more mixed-metaphors, the more impressive the accolades, so said my high school band director). Need a refresher on who LaPierre is? Check it:
LaPierre wont fill up the stat sheet outside of asses-kicked and clears-single-handed, but he's got star potential and should be celebrated as such. He's also UVA's only member of the pre-season All-American team, so the sportswriters have my back here.
What about the midfield? Defense? Both units here should possess a nice mix of youth and veteran play, with Rob Emery and Ryan Tucker returning as middies and Scott McWilliams being the best returning longstick. Considering the potential faster pace of play, plus the offense needing to find a new identity, the Hoos will definitely be relying on solid defensive play from the outset this year - something that could easily be the strength of a team in transition, or could just as easily look dismal like we do against Duke every year.
What's the Bottom Line? Tough roads ahead, great potential, I demand victory. Nothing short of victory. And scooters. Victory and scooters.