No. 12 men’s lacrosse takes on ACC rival No. 2 Notre Dame
Virginia looks to earn first conference win of season
The No. 12 Virginia men’s lacrosse team will be back in Charlottesville this weekend to take on one of the top teams in the nation, No. 2 Notre Dame.
It’s been over two weeks since the Cavaliers (5-2, 0-1 ACC) last played at Klöckner Stadium, and coach Lars Tiffany talked about the team’s excitement to play in front of its fans.
“We’re really excited to be back at Klöckner. We’re really excited that the weather’s going to warm up too,” Tiffany said. “There’s a part of me that’s a little kid inside and can’t wait to be at Klöckner for an ACC game … So I’m really looking forward to seeing the support.”
The ACC showdown will be a challenge for Virginia, and Tiffany talked about how the Fighting Irish’s (3-1, 0-0 ACC) lacrosse intelligence and coaching staff are what make them such a tough team to play against.
“It’s a unit that’s talented, but what I’m really impressed with [is] their lacrosse IQ, they’re well coached,” Tiffany said. “They really understand when to push and when to settle it down.”
Both Tiffany and freshman midfielder Dox Aitken talked about how Notre Dame’s strong defense will make things tough for Virginia throughout the match, and how the offense will have to adjust and take advantage of extra possessions in order to be successful.
“Their team defense is so strong that we’re not going to be running up and down, rip-roaring at our normal, average pace of 16, 17 goals a game without playing at our very best,” Tiffany said. “It’s really going to require those extra possessions to break down a great team defense that Notre Dame has.”
“Very good defense — they play man to man,” Aitken said. “I think for me, as an offensive midfielder I think that we got to see what they do and where they slide from and, you know, how to adjust our system, and how to adjust our plays to find some seams.”
Defensively, Virginia will have its hands full. Notre Dame boasts an incredibly talented group of offensive players, and Tiffany highlighted three specific players that Virginia will definitely need to pay attention to — sophomore attackman Ryder Garnsey, senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic and junior attackman Mikey Wynne.
“Notre Dame offensively, they have a really talented attackman named Ryder Garnsey. He’s about as slippery and effective scoring as any attackman we’ve seen so far this year and then they have a midfielder named Sergio Perkovic who's been a big time player in big time games — he’s done it on a national stage in a final four, scoring goals really quickly — and a crease attackman named Mikey Wynne who [has] phenomenal catch and scoring,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany expects a fast-paced game Saturday. Virginia’s system calls for an up-tempo style of play and Tiffany believes Notre Dame plays best when playing fast as well.
“I think Notre Dame is at its best in the scramble mode so the fans on Saturday may see two teams that are playing really up-tempo and fast, and lighting up the scoreboard,” Tiffany said.
Virginia has had a strong start to the season in Tiffany’s first year at the helm. However, with Notre Dame ranked as second-best team in the country, Saturday’s match will serve as a big measure of how well the team is playing.
“This is probably the best challenge we’ve had in the 2017 campaign — this is the best team … In terms of talent, and also the coaching and how they gel together as one unit,” Tiffany said. “I’ve always been impressed with the Notre Dame coaching staff.”
The match against Notre Dame is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at Klöckner Stadium. Virginia will then play two games on the road before heading back to Charlottesville for a three game home stand — their final of the season.