Virginia Athletics Notes: UVA Lacrosse Headed Back To Final Four

Virginia men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany grew up just a few hours from Albany, New York. His team certainly looked at home there this weekend.

Playing at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium in Albany for the first time, the Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead and held off any Georgetown rally attempts en route to a 17-14 win in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday. They advanced to Championship Weekend in Philadelphia with the victory, which secured the program’s 25th appearance in the semifinals.

“It’s wonderful to be back in up-state New York,” Tiffany said in a postgame news conference. “Having been born and raised in LaFayette, I know the passion for lacrosse up here. … What a formidable opponent and the advantage of that is we really feel like as a team, we just talked about this, that we earned our way to the Final Four.”

To get that win against a strong and experienced Georgetown team, Virginia got some big performances from some of its most familiar names. Cole Kastner registered a game-high 4 caused turnovers, while Cade Saustad helped limit Tewaaraton Award Finalist Tucker Dordevic to just 2 goals. Goalkeeper Matthew Nunes picked up 13 saves. Xander Dickson had 2 goals to become UVA’s first-ever 60-goal scorer, while Thomas McConvey posted an assist to extend his point streak to 68 games. Petey LaSalla won 17 faceoffs and scooped up 10 groundballs.

And as impressive as those varying statistics sound, Cavalier junior Connor Shellenberger put on a show for the ages. He tied a UVA NCAA Tournament single-game record with 10 points as he scored 6 goals with 4 assists. That matched Conor Gill, who had 1 goal and 9 assists against Cornell 21 years ago in 2002 to originally set the mark.

Shellenberger has hit the 10-point spot three times this season. He now has 137 career assists, good enough for fifth all time at Virginia, and leads all active Division I players in career assists. Over eight career NCAA Tournament games, Shellenberger has averaged 6.0 points per game.

Saturday, Shellenberger scored twice in the first minute and four times in under 7 minutes of play to get UVA off to a fast start against the Hoyas and they never could overtake the Hoos the rest of the day.

“I think it helps if you get in that zone quickly – a lot of credit to Petey LaSalla winning those two faceoffs out in front early like that and I think it helped us settle into the game a little bit and try to set the tone,” Shellenberger said.

Next up for Virginia is another rematch with Notre Dame at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. UVA swept two games against the Irish this season by scores of 15-10 and 12-8.

Virginia Men’s Golf Ready For NCAA Championships

While the men’s lacrosse team is preparing for its 25th appearance in the semifinals, the UVA men’s golf team heads west this week for the program’s 18th appearance at the NCAA Championships. Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, hosts 30 teams for the final event from May 26-31.

The Cavaliers earned their spot in the field for the first time since 2017 with a third-place finish at the Las Vegas Regional. They fired a collective -16 in Wednesday’s final round to help secure their ticket.

Freshman Ben James led the way as he shared medalist honors with San Francisco’s Matthew Anderson, giving Virginia co-medalist at NCAA Regionals in both men’s and women’s golf this year. Amanda Sambach accomplished the same feat for the women’s team at the NCAA Westfield Regional. James is the first Cavalier men’s golfer to win a regional.

James shot -20 for his medalist performance, including a bogey free final round that featured 5 birdies an an eagle. His score tied his own school record set at UVA’s first tournament of the season.

With a school-record 5 wins this season, James earned a spot on the final watch list for the Haskins Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding male college golfer. James, ranked No. 7 nationally in the latest Golfstat standings, leads Virginia with a 69.0 stroke average this season. He has finished in the top four in 10 of 12 tournaments this season.

More Hoos On Postseason Stage

More spring sports are in the postseason phase of the schedule as well.

The Virginia rowing team gets its shot at the NCAA Rowing Championships at Cooper River Park in New Jersey from Friday-Sunday. UVA has appeared in 24 of the last 26 National Championships. The Hoos earned an automatic bid this year with their 13th straight ACC title. They are seeded No. 8 in the Varsity Eight, No. 11 in the Second Varsity Eight, and No. 6 in the Varsity Four.

While the rowing team heads north, members of the UVA track and field teams will travel south to Jacksonville, Florida, for the NCAA East Preliminary Championships from Wednesday-Saturday this week. A total of 30 competitors and two relays entered the meet.

On the men’s side, there are 13 competitors with a quartet of top four seeds. Ethan Dabbs is the top seed in the javelin, while Nate Mountain is the top seed in the 3000m steeplechase. Derek Johnson is third in the steeple, while Owayne Owens is fourth in the triple jump. On the women’s side, there are 17 individuals scheduled to compete along with the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams. Top four seeds include Margot Appleton, who is second in the 1500, and Ashley Anumba, who is fourth in the discus.

The top 12 finishers in each event advance to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Texas next month.

Anumba Breaks Virginia Record Again

Speaking of Ashley Anumba, she tuned up for the NCAA East Regional Preliminaries with another strong outing in discus. She landed a throw of 60.97 meters (200’0”) to break her own school record, which she has set six times over the last two years. She is one of just four DI competitors to throw at least 200 feet this season.

With that toss, Anumba won the Tucson Elite Classic on Friday. She also won the discus event at the Virginia High Performance, Virginia Challenge, Virginia Grand Prix, and Raleigh Relays this season. Anumba finished second at the ACC Championships. Last spring, she earned second-team All-American honors in discus.

More UVA Notes

A few more quick notes from the world of Virginia sports

  • Cavalier point guard Reece Beekman completed his participation at the NBA Draft Combine last week. The deadline to withdraw from the draft and return to school is on May 31.
  • UVA junior baseball stars Jake Gelof and Kyle Teel have been named semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the top college baseball player. Virginia is one of 13 teams to have multiple players on the list of 60. This is the fourth time since 2004 that the Hoos have had multiple semifinalists for the award.
  • Virginia women’s golf coach Ria Scott is one of 24 coaches on the Jackie Steinmann National Coach of the Year Watch List.