Virginia lacrosse midfielder Jeff Conner doesn’t always get the same headlines as some of his record-breaking or decorated teammates. He’s not a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist or the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament like Connor Shellenberger. He’s not the program’s all-time points or groundballs leader like Matt Moore and Petey LaSalla.
That’s just fine with him, though. Conner told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that his goal was to be a “glue guy” for his team. More like super glue.
“He is so important to us because of what he does at both ends of the field,” Virginia coach Lars Tiffany said. “He truly is a two-way middie. … Jeff Conner knows our defense. He knows our offense. He’s very important to us on both ends of the field. The slickness and savviness he plays with. Yeah, he’s a heck of a glue guy. Jeff Connor is one of the – he’s not the headline guy. He won’t be the second choice or the third choice in the PLL Draft like a Matt Moore could be this summer or Connor Shellenberger one day, but he’s invaluable to us. There’s no question what he can do for us and what he can do to the opponent at both ends of the field.”
Conner posted 11 goals and 15 assists in 11 games this season for UVA. His shots on goal percentage of 73.3% is among the team leaders. He also had 12 groundballs.
The biggest stat line of the season came against Syracuse on April 23 when Conner posted 4 goals and 3 assists in a 21-15 win. That brought in ACC Offensive Player of the Week honors and he was named to the All-ACC team this week as well. Fans likely remember his strong performance in the National Championship Game a year ago as well when he had 3 goals and 1 assist against Maryland to help the Hoos claim the trophy.
Conner already said he plans to return to Virginia next season with the additional year of eligibility created by the pandemic. The Cavaliers almost certainly welcomed that news.
“He’s quiet, but boy he gets it done,” Tiffany said. “We’ve been so lucky to have him. When he was hurt the first part of the season, we felt his absence significantly. He’s just a very smart player, who’s very fundamental with his shooting and his stick work and his skills and he has that extra coach sense on the field that all of us coaches crave to have out there, that we need to have out there.”
Built For May
The Hoos begin their quest for a third straight NCAA Tournament title after wins in 2019 and 2021 sandwiched the canceled pandemic year. They drew a road game at Brown to start the tourney with faceoff set for Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The Bears earned the No. 8 seed in the bracket after a 10-5 regular season.
Graduate student Jack Peele has been part of the two previous titles and said that this is why players choose a place like UVA.
“Guys come to the University of Virginia to win National Championships,” Peele said. “I remember John Fox last year saying we don’t hang banners for ACC Championships, we don’t hang banners for regular season wins, we hang banners only for National Championships. So when you come to Virginia, that’s the standard and this is the time we want to playing. This is what we come here for.”
The Cavaliers are expecting a tough battle with Brown, which features five players with 25 points or more this season and a goalkeeper playing extremely well this season. Connor Theriault has made 194 saves...
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