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Virginia lacrosse looks to stay strong at Klöckner

Cavaliers will compete against High Point for first time ever Tuesday

<p>Junior midfielder AJ Fish has netted four goals and tallied one assist over Virginia's 1-1 start. Fish will try and keep it going Tuesday night versus High Point.&nbsp;</p>

Junior midfielder AJ Fish has netted four goals and tallied one assist over Virginia's 1-1 start. Fish will try and keep it going Tuesday night versus High Point. 

As the No. 10 Virginia men’s lacrosse team exited Vidas Field in Philadelphia, Pa after a sound 14-7 win against Drexel, it recognized there was still room for improvement. The Cavaliers (1-1) ultimately cruised to a victory over the Dragons (0-1) Saturday, but took 51 shots overall, while shooting 16 in the first period and holding onto a lead of only 2-1.

“I thought early on we were generating a lot of opportunities, but we were still not scoring,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said.

Later in the contest, Virginia’s shooting seemed to improve, as they scored four goals in each of the three remaining periods to propel themselves to the win.

“I felt we got a little more confident as the game went along and that was the difference overall. I thought we played smartly for 60 minutes, which is a good sign,” Starsia said.

The Cavaliers will hope to carry the confidence and momentum into Tuesday night’s matchup against High Point. The Panthers (0-3) have faced a tough schedule already, as they have taken on No. 5 Duke, No. 4 Maryland and Boston University to start off the season.

High Point is still a young program, as the university first started its NCAA lacrosse team in 2012. However, the team’s youth should not be deceived as to what they have accomplished. Under the guidance of coach Jon Torpey, High Point’s only coach in program history, the Panthers went 10-7 last season, won the Southern Conference and made their first NCAA appearance.

Senior attackman Dan Lomas leads High Point in scoring with 10 goals and 12 points, while junior attackman Michael LeClair follows closely with seven goals and 10 points. The Panthers have used two different underclassmen goalies so far in the season, with sophomore Zach Tuell staring in the first two games and recording a 37.5 percent save average. Freshman Tim Troutner started in the last game for High Point and saved 51.6 percent of shots made.

The Panthers have a growing program, and a win over a nationally ranked Virginia team would be the boost they are looking for. However, the Cavaliers are accustomed to playing teams at their best.

“We don’t sneak up on a bunch of these teams,” Starsia said. “For most teams, this is a big game on their schedule. We are a program that has had to learn to win from the front, and we just have to go and meet the challenge, play better and win the game.”

As far as Virginia’s stats go, a pair of midfielders lead the team in scoring. Junior midfielder AJ Fish and senior Greg Coholan both have four goals each, while Coholan leads the team with six points. Fish has been performing at a high level so far, as he earned his first goal of the season against No. 6 Loyola, and recorded a hat trick Saturday against Drexel. The Cavalier offense will look to continue to improve against the Panthers.

“We’re going to have to go up and keep putting the ball in the net and keep going after our chances.” Fish said.

Sophomore Jason Murphy has been providing Virginia with plenty of chances, as the midfielder has won 72.4 percent, or 21-of-29, of his faceoffs so far. Junior goalie Matt Barrett has performed well between the pipes early in the season, recording a 51.4 save percentage.

Tuesday’s matchup will be the first time that the Cavaliers and High Point meet, with the faceoff set for 7 p.m. The contest will mark the beginning of a four-game home stand for the Cavaliers, who begin ACC competition in just two weeks against No. 3 Syracuse.