February 10, 2011

NCAA Preview: No. 7 Virginia

by Patrick Stevens | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

The February issue of Lacrosse Magazine features an extensive NCAA lacrosse preview, from Division I through Division III, plus in-depth features on the top-ranked Syracuse men and the snake-bitten Cal women. Lacrosse Magazine Online (laxmagazine.com) examines the key players, strengths, weaknesses, best- and worst-case scenarios, sleepers, what's new, what's not and rival coaches' takes on each of the top 10-ranked teams in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.

MEN: 10 COR | 9 HOF | 8 DUKE | 7 UND | 6 PTON | 5 MD | 4 SB | 3 UNC | 2 UVA | 1 CUSE
WOMEN: 10 UND | 9 JMU | 8 PENN | 7 UVA | 6 GTOWN | 5 CUSE | 4 DUKE | 3 UNC | 2 NW | 1 MD

NO. 7 VIRGINIA

Josie Owen (pictured) and Ainsley Baker missed the end of last season with knee injuries. Both are healthy and ready to contribute for Virginia.

© Matt Riley

Head Coach: Julie Myers
Conference: ACC
2010 Records: 14-6, 4-1
2011 Opener: Saturday, Feb. 19 at Loyola | Schedule

KEY PLAYERS

A Ainsley Baker (Jr.)
One of three players the Cavaliers lost to ACL tears last season, Baker scored 15 goals in nine games before missing the final half of the season.

D Liz Downs (Sr.)
The three-year starter will anchor the defense after causing 17 turnovers last season. “She’s awesome,” Myers said. “She’s playing the best she’s ever played.”

A Charlie Finnigan (Jr.)
The native of England had 34 goals and 15 assists last year. “She’s dynamic and her hands are phenomenal,” Myers said.

M Julie Gardner (Jr.)
One of five 30-goal scorers a season ago for the Cavaliers, she’ll be asked to be the top offensive threat from the midfield

STRENGTHS

• Experienced veteran pillars on attack, midfield and defense
• The prospect of balance if everyone is healthy

WEAKNESSES

• Uncertainty on draw controls, at least entering the season
• With the loss of three 50-point scorers, it could take time for players to acclimate to larger roles

BEST CASE

A well-rounded offense produces several 30-goal scorers and the Cavaliers advance to their first final four since 2007.

WORST CASE

Injuries strike again and stunt the team’s development, leaving the Cavaliers well behind Maryland and North Carolina in the ACC’s pecking order.

SLEEPER

M Lauren Goerz (Fr.)
One of the top recruits California ever attracted before the fall announcement its program would be discontinued, she is a rare freshman transfer into Virginia.

RIVAL COACH'S TAKE

"With the tragedy and everything, I think this is likely to be a challenging year for them."

"They're rebounding from a lot more than last year's season. They're rebounding from their loss. I think that could help make them a closer, tighter team. I'm sure they'll be back in the hunt this year."

"With only three seniors, the Cavs need to find their flow, but talented rookies could prove the perfect compliment."

WHAT'S NEW?

Virginia will need to find a new primary draw control specialist with the graduation of Brittany Kalkstein.

WHAT'S NOT?

The Cavaliers’ four primary starters on defense all return this season, including two seniors and two juniors.

15

Consecutive NCAA tournament appearances for the Cavaliers, including seven final four appearances


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