Virginia men’s lacrosse season ends with ferocious scrimmage prior to NCAA halting play

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

With rumors circulating by the hour about an impending suspension of spring sports, Virginia men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany wasn’t about to waste any precious moments.

Tiffany was headed to a 1-o’clock meeting with his team, when he would share a scouting report about upcoming opponent Maryland. Just as he walked in, the coach had a change in thought.

“I walked in the room and said forget about the Maryland scouting report,” Tiffany told the Cavaliers. “Grab your equipment and let’s get out there and practice before they shut us down.”

The response was an affirmative roar by the team, followed by what Tiffany described as the most spirited scrimmage his team had ever had.

“They realized it might be the last time,” the coach said. “I mean, we beat each other up.”

In fact, by the end of the scrimmage, there was no word and Tiffany wondered if he might have worn his team out instead of bracing for the Terps. During the team’s lifting period following the scrimmage, the coach was informed that spring sports had been suspended.

Assistant coach Sean Kirwan read the NCAA announcement to the team.

“Wow, this is over,” Tiffany said. “You guys are being asked to go home. We may not see each other until August.

“I said, ‘Fellas, I’m rattled right now,’” Tiffany recalled. “It was that first stage of shock.”

His defending national-championship team, presently ranked No. 8 in the country, was off to a 4-2 start.

While still in a stage of shock, Tiffany asked his team how he could help them and reminded them of their academic responsibilities. They would have to be disciplined to continue their online classes.

Regardless of what the future holds, Tiffany will never forget that ferocious scrimmage.

“It was a surreal moment,” he said. “They were really getting after each other.”

The result? 

It wasn’t settled until overtime, with one squad outlasting the other by a 17-16 score. The winning goal by senior attackman Mitch Gordon is one the Maryland native will never forget.

On the bright side of things, Tiffany was reminded that his Cavaliers are still national champs.

He noted that having started this season with that big bulls eye target of having won last year’s title was challenging.

“I anticipated it being hard, but it was even harder than I imagined,” Tiffany said. “If we don’t play again until next spring, I’m looking forward to starting a season without [that bulls eye].”

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