Virginia men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany’s phone started blowing up as soon as he announced the Cavaliers would face Penn State in a fall exhibition game.
“I got several texts from excited players,” Tiffany said. “The men are ecstatic to play someone else in the fall.”
The Cavaliers travel to Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Maryland, on Sunday to face the Nittany Lions in the fourth annual Bob Kemp Classic. The opening faceoff is scheduled for noon.
Admission is free and a free youth clinic featuring UVa players and coaches will follow the game.
Tiffany is familiar with Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni, who coached at Cornell before heading to Happy Valley. They coached against one another when Tiffany was at Brown.
“His teams are always characterized by speed, athleticism and aggressiveness,” Tiffany said. “I’m really excited about putting our men in a venue where our own athleticism will be challenged, our transition will be challenged and so will our aggressiveness.”
Last season, Penn State went 8-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten. Heading into the season finale ranked No. 14, the Lions fell, 10-9, in overtime to rival Michigan.
Last season's leading scorer Mac O'Keefe is back at attack for the Lions after netting 35 goals and adding 11 assists. The 2018 Big Ten Specialist of the Year is also back in faceoff man Gerard Arceri, who finished the season with 216 faceoff wins and 145 ground balls.
Senior Chris Sabia is back to lead the Penn State defense after he caused a team-high 19 turnovers last season.
Outside of the annual alumni game, Tiffany’s teams haven’t taken part in fall exhibitions in five years, dating back to his final two years at Brown.
The main reason for his change of heart is a change in NCAA policy, which once counted fall games against a players’ eligibility, potentially costing them a shot at a redshirt year. Now, the eligibility clock begins with a player’s first spring scrimmage action.
Tiffany said senior midfielder Ryan Conrad won’t play on Sunday. Five games into last season, he suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Conrad, seven months removed from surgery, is on light duty in practice, Tiffany said, adding that team doctors recommend a nine-month recovery period.
Tiffany expects the rest of his veterans and a talented class of first-years to be on the field against Penn State.
That includes third-years Michael Kraus and Dox Aitken and last season’s ACC freshman of the year Matt Moore. Kraus, an attack, led the Cavaliers last spring with 44 goals and 39 assists. Aitken finished with 39 goals and his 51 points are the most all-time in a single season by a UVa midfielder.