When NCAA college lacrosse finally began, there was a clear No. 1 in all preseason standings. Despite being ranked 8th in the final rankings and not winning the national championship, Virginia was the favorite to take it all this year. With expectations so high 6 games into the season, they have done nothing but prove their worth.
Virginia is now ranked No. 1 and are undefeated on the season. They have held No. 1 in every poll from preseason to now, and deservedly so. They dominate every team on offense, defense, statistically, and with the eye test. How a team goes from 8th and a playoff knockout to first in every aspect is unknown, but that is what we plan to uncover today.
On paper, the clear and definite reason to the Virginia success is their scoring. They rank first in points scored per game with 20.17, over 3 points ahead of second place and the only team with over 20.
Their offense may be great, but their defense is good too. They rank inside the top 50 lacrosse teams with 12.17 points allowed per game, but averaging 8 more points per game than your opponent is an incredible margin.
Virginia also ranks 1st in assists per game with 13.33, over 3 more than second place. They also rank 3rd in clear percentage, 15th in faceoff percentage, 1st in ground balls per game and 29th in caused turnovers per game. The fact that they can rank so highly on offense, defense and even faceoffs and clearing is quite a spectacle.
If we are talking about this Virginia offense, we need to mentioned the dynamic tandem of attackmen Connor Shellenberger and Xander Dickson. Shellenberger plays quarterback for the team, with an astonishing 24 assists in just 6 games. This is followed up by sharpshooter Dickson, who has 25 goals on the season.
The two players put the offense on their backs, helping lead them as the best offense in lacrosse. Both players rank in the top 10 in points per game, with Shellenberger in 2nd with 5.83 and Dickson in 7th with 5.33. Shellenberger also ties for first in assists per game with 4, while Dickson ranks 3rd in goals per game with 4.17.
Although the two attackmen control the offense, the defense has some studs as well. Brick wall defender Cade Saustad ties for 7th in caused turnovers per game with 2, with 12 total in his 6 games. Goalie Matthew Nunes holds it down at the net, with a 49.2% save percentage.
Last but not least, FOGO Petey LaSalla is one of the best in the game. He ranks 19th in faceoff win percentage at over 60%, while also ranking 11th in ground balls per game with 8.67. He has heavily benefited the offense and has helped gain possession when they needed it most.