CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Virginia men’s lacrosse team had ten seniors on its roster in 2020.
The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to spring sport athletes after the season was wiped out due to COVID-19, but UVA head coach Lars Tiffany says at the moment, Dox Aitken and Jared Conners are the only seniors he expects back.
“If there’s any negatives to winning a national championship, and there are none, by the way," says Tiffany, "but if there is one, philosophically, go a year later, and you have graduating seniors, or Fourth-Years, like we call them at UVA, to come back for a fifth year, it’s really easy for them to say, ‘Coach, we’ve satisfied our goals. When I came to Charlottesville four years ago, there were some things I wanted to check the box on, and we checked all those boxes, so I’m good.’”
Fewer returnees does grant the Cavaliers more roster flexibility, and on Tuesday, they announced the signing of two-time Division II Player of the Year Charlie Bertrand.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound attackman helped lead Merrimack College to the D2 National Championship in each of the last two years.
The grad transfer will be eligible to play immediately.
Many of UVA’s seniors couldn’t come back, as they already had jobs lined up, or other plans in place for after graduation.
But that extra season was granted to everybody.
In the years to come, coaches will have to juggle roster spots with limited space.
“It’s going to be tricky," says Tiffany. "There’s going to be some tough conversations moving forward, with men who want to return, who’ve been a part of our program, who might even be on some scholarship money, and we may not be able to keep. When you start combining five years of men, in a four-year lacrosse program, in a four-year locker room, something’s got to give.”
When school was still in session, the team gathered for virtual position meetings, which Tiffany says were beneficial in more ways than one.
Tiffany says, “Asking Jared Conners, the captain, ‘Are these film sessions valuable, are they worth the thinking?’ He said, ‘Coach, they’re great, but the best part is the first two or three minutes where everyone signs in, and we get to talk.’ It’s a reminder as a coach that, ‘Oh yeah, we’re all really missing each other.’ A year from now, whomever wins the national championship, they’ll say, ‘What did you guys do? Ok, that must have been the right thing to do during the shutdown.’”
The Cavaliers will be the defending national champions again next year, as Virginia won the title for the sixth time in program history in 2019.