CHARLOTTESVILLE – Lars Tiffany hadn’t given it much thought until the first graphic that popped up during ESPNU’s Sunday night broadcast of the NCAA lacrosse tournament bracket included a reference to Virginia winning the last national title, back in 2019.
So, with the 2020 tournament canceled, does Tiffany’s team enter this year’s event with a championship bullseye on its back?
“That goes up there on the graphic and I was like, ‘Oh yeah,’” said Tiffany, whose team is the No. 4 seed in the 16-team tournament and opens play at home on Sunday against NEC champion Bryant. “I really don’t think about it. I’m sure Mike Pressler and Bryant they have a big ol’ bullseye on the Virginia Cavalier uniform right now.”
For everyone else, Tiffany said top-seed North Carolina and undefeated Maryland, the No. 3 seed, are probably the teams that will receive the most attention going into the tournament, not his UVA squad which went 10-4 this season. For the rest of the country, and for himself, the 2019 championship doesn’t make the Cavaliers a marked team this month.
“Because of the year off in between it just doesn’t seem that way,” said Tiffany. “It doesn’t feel that way to me.”
All five ACC teams made the field, with North Carolina as the one-seed, Duke the two, Notre Dame the six and Syracuse – which beat UVA twice this season – unseeded.
Virginia hosts Bryant (9-3), which upset the top seed in the NEC tournament – Saint Joseph’s – on Saturday to get its NCAA bid, at noon on Sunday at Klockner Stadium.
The Bulldogs are coached by Mike Pressler, who spent 16 seasons at Duke, going 153-82and winning three ACC championships with the Blue Devils. He guided Duke to 10 NCAA tournaments before being fired during an investigation into what proved to be false sexual assault allegations against three of his players.
Their starting goaltender, Luke Caracciolo, is the brother of UVA football long-snapper Danny Caracciolo. Danny Caracciolo played lacrosse at Bryant for two years, after transferring from James Madison.
Virginia’s women’s team also saw its name pop up on the television Sunday night. Despite a six-game losing streak, coach Julie Myers club will compete in its 25th straight NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers (8-8) play Connecticut (12-6) in the first round on Friday at 5 p.m. in South Bend, Indiana.
“It is such an amazingly, crazy year so to be one of the teams picked in the end is obviously a huge relief and a big accomplishment,” Myers said. “There is a lot of work to be done, just great appreciation to the school for helping us get here and the NCAA for continuing on with this tournament. We train a lot of months of the year to be able to get to this point of the year, so I am excited to be training and pushing for more games.”
The winner of the UVA-UConn game, the first ever women’s lacrosse meeting between the two schools, faces the winner of Notre Dame and Robert Morris.