Two former Virginia men’s lacrosse players — attackman Michael Kraus and midfielder Justin Schwenk — were both selected by teams in the 2020 Major League Lacrosse draft Monday night.
Kraus was picked second overall by the Connecticut Hammerheads, who will play their inaugural season in 2020, and Schwenk was selected in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Barrage with the 39th overall pick. Both were members of Virginia’s 2019 national championship team and had impressive careers in Charlottesville.
By any measure, Kraus is considered to be one of Virginia’s greatest lacrosse players. He is tied for fourth all-time in points with 240, seventh in goals with 131 and sixth in assists with 109. This year, Kraus became just the fourth Cavalier in history to log over 100 goals and assists in their career. Notably, Kraus achieved these records without completing his senior season, which was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two-time Virginia captain also racked up a number of awards during his time at Virginia. He was the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2017, a three-time All-ACC selection and a three-time USILA All-American. Kraus played a pivotal role in Virginia’s 2019 national championship run. He recorded an astounding 19 points — eight goals and 11 assists — over four NCAA Tournament games against Robert Morris, Maryland, Duke and Yale.
Kraus is the first player to be drafted by the Hammerheads ever and will have a chance to play at the professional level less than a half an hour away from his hometown of New Canaan, Conn.
“Words cannot express the gratitude I have for [Kraus],” assistant coach Sean Kirwan tweeted after Kraus announced that he was leaving Virginia in April. “[Kraus] is an absolute warrior whose impact on Virginia lacrosse will be remembered for years to come. It was an absolute pleasure to be a small part of his growth both as a player and a leader.”
Schwenk transferred to Virginia in 2018 after playing his freshman season at Monmouth where he won the MAAC Rookie of the Year Award. He made an immediate impact for Virginia at the faceoff X. In 2018, Schwenk won 242 faceoffs — a single-season record at Virginia — and finished first in the ACC with 59.8 faceoff winning percentage.
Schwenk continued his strong play in 2019, especially during the NCAA Tournament. He recorded 22 faceoff wins against Robert Morris in the first round — the most ever for a Virginia player in a NCAA Tournament game. In addition to the aforementioned records, Schwenk is also the only Cavalier to win more than 20 faceoffs in multiple games — three in total across 2018 and 2019. In just over two seasons at Virginia, Schwenk has the ninth-most faceoff wins in Virginia history with 340.
Similar to Kraus, Schwenk — a Royersford, Pa. native — will also be close to home playing in Philadelphia. The MLL chose to bring back the Barrage franchise this year after the team folded in 2009.
“To persevere through the trials of faceoff trench warfare requires both physical and emotional strength,” Coach Lars Tiffany said earlier this year. “Justin has established himself as a trusted competitor for us, a man we have grown to know will rise to the occasion on gameday as evidenced by his 2018 UVA faceoff win single-season record-setting year. His daily battles with our other specialists have improved his, along with everyone else’s, prowess at the X."
The 2020 MLL season was originally scheduled to start May 30, but has been delayed due to COVID-19 concerns. While a new start date hasn’t been announced, Kraus and Schwenk will be ready to contribute to the Hammerheads and the Barrage when the time comes. Kraus and Schwenk were the 54th and 55th Virginia players selected in the MLL Draft ever. Virginia is only behind Syracuse and Maryland for most all-time selections by a single school.