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SMYTHE: Virginia lacrosse’s future looks bright

Analyzing the recent Virginia commits from the Class of 2022

<p>Coach Lars Tiffany has once again attracted several top recruits to Virginia who can make an immediate impact when they arrive on Grounds.</p>

Coach Lars Tiffany has once again attracted several top recruits to Virginia who can make an immediate impact when they arrive on Grounds.

With a storied history and a claim to eight national titles, the Virginia men’s lacrosse program is no stranger to success. In recent years, the Cavaliers have maintained their place as one of the nation’s elite, capturing a championship in 2011 and most recently in 2019. How — in the uber-competitive ACC while also competing against bona-fide programs such as Johns Hopkins and Maryland — have the Cavaliers sustained their dominance year in and year out? In Charlottesville, the allure of past triumphs has led to the recruitment of unbelievably talented players from all across the country. 

One of Virginia’s top returners this year — senior attackman Matt Moore — bolstered the Cavaliers’ national standing when he joined as the No. 4 overall recruit in 2017. Moore’s commitment has opened the door for others, especially those who have topped the charts as some of the most highly valued prospects in the nation.

A notable commit to Virginia — Charlottesville native and redshirt freshman attackman Connor Shellenberger — made national headlines when he chose the Cavaliers after decommitting from Johns Hopkins. Shellenberger’s combination of an elite dodging arsenal and a blistering shot propelled him to the top spot in the Class of 2019. While he chose to sit out a year to develop alongside star attackmen Ian Laviano, Michael Kraus and the aforementioned Moore, Shellenberger will certainly serve as an offensive threat when the Cavaliers compete this spring. 

The recent commitments from Moore and Shellenberger, among other top prospects, have given Virginia a leg up in scouting and garnering elite talent even years before the class reaches Charlottesville. The recruiting window officially opened Sept. 1 for the Class of 2022 — current juniors in high school — to hear from college coaches and make their initial decisions. 

The commitments that have come in rapid succession. In the weeks since, the Cavaliers have heard from a whopping eight recruits, including three five-star prospects and three four-star prospects. 

Let’s examine some of the talent that Coach Lars Tiffany has accrued and break down the promising class of 2022.

Truitt Sunderland (Attack): No. 4 overall prospect, Calvert Hall College High School (Md.)

Where do you begin with Sunderland? Starting as a freshman on a top-two team in the nation, Sunderland held his own and more in a season that resulted in a total of 57 points — 35 goals and 22 assists. His elusiveness and first step constantly frustrated defenses, even if his undersized frame suggested he would struggle against the tough, seasoned defensemen in Baltimore’s MIAA conference. With the graduation of several key contributors, Sunderland will be entrusted to pick up the slack and continue his dominance on Calvert Hall’s first attack line. In Charlottesville, expect Sunderland to make his mark early on.

Joey Terenzi (Midfield): No. 3 overall prospect, Manhasset High School (N.Y.)

Ranked as the top midfielder in the class of 2022, Terenzi — like Sunderland — shattered all expectations in his freshman year at one of the premier high school programs on Long Island. Despite missing the past few months due to an elbow surgery, Terenzi has already established himself on account of his elite footwork, skill with both hands and aggression when attacking the cage. One thing that stands out is Terenzi’s use of the “hockey stop” dodge to turn defenders in the other direction. He clearly has the chops to compete at the Division I level, and Tiffany will be able to use him in a multitude of ways thanks to his offensive versatility.

Mac Eldridge (Face-Off): No. 10 overall prospect, Georgetown Prep (Md.)

As face-offs have become increasingly important in determining the outcome of a game, Virginia’s recruitment of Eldridge will provide serious leverage for years to come. A face-off man is the catalyst for a team’s success, as his work at the X dictates how many possessions a certain team receives. Eldridge, a native of Richmond, dominated club competition this summer, establishing himself as the top face-off man in the country while starring for the nationally-renowned D.C. Express. While junior face-off specialist Petey LaSalla will continue his duties as the Cavaliers’ go-to guy for the next two years, Eldridge is in a perfect position to come in and assume the role as a freshman. 

Malachi Jones (Defense): Four-star prospect, McDonogh School (Md.)

The second defenseman to commit to Virginia so far, Jones has the upside and athleticism to compete for a starting job in his first year in Charlottesville. Starring for Team 91 Maryland, Jones earned first team all-tournament honors at the prestigious Elite Eight club tournament, turning heads among the best club squads in the country. A great on-ball defender as well, Jones frustrates attackmen with his strength and speed and doesn’t give up ground easily. Due to the plethora of offensive talent coming in, Tiffany will love having some defensive personnel to round out the Class of 2022.

Virginia has secured four other commitments in this junior class, including four-star recruits Kyle Morris — a goalie from the Gilman School in Baltimore — and Ryan Colsey — an attackman from Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, Conn. This is one of the most well-rounded and polished recruiting classes that Tiffany has ever seen in his tenure at Virginia. With the recruiting period still in full swing, there’s a strong chance that the Cavaliers add serious depth and even more talent in the coming weeks and months. Fans should be extremely excited to witness the development of the 2022 class and the talent Tiffany will be bringing to Virginia over the next few years.

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