Men’s lacrosse gets set to face No. 17 Johns Hopkins
Teams will face off for Doyle Smith Cup
The No. 15 Virginia men’s lacrosse team will travel to Baltimore this weekend to take on No. 17 Johns Hopkins in what will be a clash between two of the top teams in the nation.
Coach Lars Tiffany said the programs are familiar with one another and that both teams coming off of a loss will play a role in the outcome of the match.
“Two teams that certainly know each other really well and two teams looking for a win,” Tiffany said. “Both [are] coming off losses, so I’m expecting sort of a battle of wills.”
After playing at Klöckner Stadium last weekend, the Cavaliers (5-3, 0-2 ACC) will once again play on the road in another well-known arena — Homewood Field — in Baltimore. Tiffany said Virginia’s road schedule this year has prepared them to play in tough environments away from Charlottesville.
“We’ve played in some great arenas already this year, so I think Homewood is probably the most unique and special of all facilities that we’ve played in outside of Klöckner,” Tiffany said. “But I don’t think the intimidation factor will be there because of the experience that we’ve already had this year.”
Virginia knows they will have to play at a high level in order to beat a team like the Blue Jays (4-3, 0-0 Big Ten). Tiffany said Johns Hopkins can gain a real advantage with their ability to use picks so effectively. He added that this is something Virginia will have to try and do better this weekend.
“Johns Hopkins is really good at trying to change your matchups with picks, like they do in basketball,” Tiffany said. “Try to get the big man on the little man, and vice versa … We’re going to have to be better with our pick play as we prepare for Johns Hopkins this weekend.”
One thing Virginia knows it didn’t execute as well as it could have last week — and will look to be better at this Saturday — is on-ball defense.
“Some of the techniques that we were using Saturday against Notre Dame just were not fundamentally sound, and we called some of the defenders out on that on Monday,” Tiffany said.
Though Tiffany was tougher on his team than usual after last weekend’s loss, he knows his team never stopped giving its best effort.
“I got on them on Monday,” Tiffany said. “We out ground-balled Notre Dame by 16 — if there’s any stat that defines heart and character, it’s that stat in our sport.”
Tiffany said he was impressed by the improved play of freshman goalie Griffin Thompson towards the end of last weekend’s game and wants to see him build on this confidence.
“[He] played well late in the game,” Tiffany said. “And so can he build on that confidence from those three or four saves he made late against Notre Dame against another traditional power in Johns Hopkins.”
Both Tiffany and his team are aware of the challenges that a team like Johns Hopkins can present in a game, and he said they have a lot of respect for their opponent on Saturday.
“Johns Hopkins will play fast, but they’re really dangerous in the six [versus] six situation,” Tiffany said. “They’ve got great coaches who analyze the game and really try to break you down … We’re going to certainly try to create a pace that is more of the players deciding the outcome.”
Sophomore midfielder Ryan Conrad knows all about Johns Hopkins, for the Baltimore native said he strongly considered committing there when he was making his decision on where to play college lacrosse.
“[John Hopkins] were definitely one of my top teams,” Conrad said. “They’re obviously a great program, [Dave] Pietramala’s a great coach … I definitely considered them.”
The game against Johns Hopkins is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday in Baltimore. This will be the first of a two-game road trip for the Cavaliers, as they will play Richmond the following Saturday before coming back to Charlottesville for a three-game home stand.