'Hoos have raised intensity level this fall

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Lars Tiffany went into his fourth fall as men's lacrosse coach at Virginia with one goal: Keep things as similar to last fall as possible.

But with the Wahoos coming off May's run to the sixth NCAA title in program history -- capped by a 13-9 win over Yale on Memorial Day to clinch the championship -- Tiffany has noticed one subtle difference in practice this fall.

"We want to make sure that it's just back to business as usual. And that we're not using words that we didn't use last year," Tiffany said before Wednesday morning's practice. "We didn't say 'defend' or 'repeat' so those are bad words. We don't allow those to be said in practice. But I will admit that it does feel different in a sense that there is a bit more professionalism."

"The first day, we talked about how we use last year as the standard now," said UVA senior attackman Michael Kraus. "We take every single day, and we want to make today better than it was last year or last fall."

Including Kraus, who finished second on the Cavaliers in scoring last year with 75 points (29 goals and 36 assists), UVA had four of the top five and eight of the top 10 scorers from last season's 17-3 team back on the practice field on Wednesday. Three defensive middies and two defensemen are also back from last year's starting lineup, along with face-off man Petey LaSalla and goalkeeper Alex Rode, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

That group has been bolstered by a group of newcomers that includes three of the top 15 recruits in the country, according to the Inside Lacrosse rankings -- led by St. Anne's-Belfield graduate Connor Shellenberger, the No. 1 recruit in the country.

Those veterans back this fall had never won an NCAA Tournament game prior to last season. Now, as Kraus pointed out, they have a full understanding of what it takes to reach the top spot in the sport.

"We know we have the talent, we know we have the schemes and we know we have the skills to accomplish everything that we want to," Kraus said. "Now it's just about not being complacent, not letting the success of last year alter how we are going to play this year. So I think if anything, it's more intense this fall."

Tiffany has noticed that increased intensity too. He also says decision-making and behavior by his players off the field has improved this fall.

"There's an attitude that is pervasive in this program right now, and I couldn't be a luckier coach," he said. "Just the opposite of being expectant or complacent. This group wants to achieve what we did, and do it over and over."

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