The Virginia men’s lacrosse team hasn’t faced an Ivy League team in more than two years. That’s set to change Saturday when UVA travels to Brown for an NCAA Tournament showdown.
Starting the tourney on the road will be a different experience for the Cavaliers, who last opened NCAA Tournament play away from Charlottesville in the 2018 event. With RPI metrics playing a heavy role in seeding, the Hoos expected a road trip but still held out hope for a seed and the right to host. There’s always a little disappointment to miss out on another game at Klockner Stadium, but Virginia is excited to be in the field and ready to chase another National Championship.
“If there was any vibe, I think there was probably a bit of disappointment not to be home,” Cavalier coach Lars Tiffany said. “In terms of the matchup, [it was] we’ll see who we get and we’re excited to play, but yeah I think there was some hope because we love playing here in Charlottesville, we love Klockner, the iconic lacrosse, grass stadium to play the game of lacrosse in Division I. So I think there was a little bit of a letdown there but then excited to see our name pop up.”
The Hoos’ name popped up with No. 8 seed Brown. Coincidentally, that was the last Ivy League opponent and location for Virginia as well. The two programs dueled at Stevenson-Pincince Field in 2020 in their final game before the pandemic shutdown. The Ivy League did not play in 2021 and with scheduling done in advance, UVA did not include any Ivy teams this season.
That last meeting in Providence, of course, is not Tiffany’s only experience at the venue. He worked as Brown’s head coach from 2007-2016 before accepting the same job at Virginia. He won four Ivy League titles and 95 games while with the Bears. He guided the program to the 2016 Final Four. Tiffany also played at Brown, his alma mater.
In other words, he knows that the crowd at Stevenson-Pinson can get vocal and charged up for the home team. Tiffany sees the challenge ahead as a great opportunity for his team to prove it can withstand that sort of challenge. That’s going to be more of the message this week instead of unseeded Virginia being an underdog.
“As you know, I try not to harp on being the underdog much,” Tiffany said. “Again, you come to Virginia and the pressure is to win and I can’t sit there and play oh we’re the underdogs because a lot of times you guys would be like ‘No, you’re not.’ So what if you are the favorite? Then all of the sudden you get tight. So we like the pressure. We’ll be going up to a hostile environment. I know because I enjoyed the benefits of being on the other sideline of that hostile environment. Stevenson-Pinson field only seats about 3,000 and they’re close to you, they’re on top of you. It’s the environment as a competitor that you really want. You want to be in that environment, you want to feel that intensity. You thrive on that if you’re a true competitor or warrior where it’s woooph everyone’s against you, they’re yelling. … You have to embrace that. This is kind of cool that you do something that these fans are so passionate about and so excited about. Have some thick skin and enjoy it.”
Tiffany speaks about that fervent support because as a Brown lacrosse alum he remains immersed in it himself. He didn’t hesitate when asked if he still follows the program – “Absolutely,”
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