CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Last season Virginia made it into the ACC Men's Lacrosse Tournament on a tiebreaker, but now the Cavaliers are the top-seed and their underdog status is gone.
"Definitely important for us as a program to make that jump, but also a different mindset," junior midfielder Dox Aitken said, "We're no longer the underdogs, we've got a statement to prove and hopefully if we get a win on Thursday, we get a home game."
The new format for this year's tournament means Virginia will await the winner of No. 4 seed Syracuse and No. 5 seed, and host, North Carolina, who play on Thursday night. Last season, Coach Lars Tiffany says the team did not handle their win over Syracuse in the ACC semifinals the right way, so now it is about taking the next step mentally.
"It's about the mental state of we're there in phase two of our season, phase one is to win the regular season title, this is phase two," Tiffany said, "All we control now is winning the ACC Championship."
The Cavaliers have gone nearly a decade without winning an ACC Tournament Championship, with the last coming in 2010. This year's team says they feel different and could be the one's to break through.
"I think we're a different team this year, just being really smart lacrosse players and just kind having a little bit more experience even though we've got some younger guys playing still," senior midfielder Ryan Conrad said, "I think we're really excited coming in as the No. one seed, I think we've got a great advantage there."
Virginia will play the winner of Syracuse-North Carolina on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Chapel Hill.