Humbled 'Hoos prepare for home opener

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Lars Tiffany says he's seen more intensity and focus at Virginia men's lacrosse practice this week leading up to Friday's home opener against Lehigh.

So last Saturday's 17-9 loss at Loyola to open the season last weekend seems to have gotten the Cavaliers' attention.

"They're feeling their ego's been humbled, because they came to Virginia to win championships," UVA's head coach said. "And losing the opening game by eight goals, regardless of the opponent, is unacceptable."

"Coming back on Tuesday, back on the field, we kind of had a new sense of urgency. And that was important for us because we have no easy games this year," said UVA junior midfielder Dox Aitken. "So once we got that through our head last Saturday, we're ready to rock, and it's kind of a new team out here."

UVA began the season ranked No. 6 in the country. That ranking dipped to No. 11 in both polls after last weekend's loss to the Greyhounds, who moved from fourth to No. 2 nationally following the win. Perennial Tewaaraton Award candidate Pat Spencer led the Loyola attack with five goals and a pair of assists.

The Cavaliers' inability to defend Spencer was on of the harsh lessons of the loss, Tiffany said Wednesday.

"We tried to do some things that were different than maybe our base, foundational defense. And Pat Spencer and his teammates tore it apart," Tiffany said. "Are we at the point yet at Virginia to be a complex, personnel-driven defensive scheme? Maybe not yet."

Aitken and sophomore Matt Moore had three goals apiece to lead the Wahoos in the loss. Offensively, Aitken said UVA just didn't execute at a high-enough level to keep pace with the Greyhounds.

"A ton of little things. I think we really competed on Saturday, we just didn't execute. We got some decent shots, but we could have worked for some better shots as well," he said. "It's not a huge fix, just some little things we need to button up."

Now the Cavaliers play their next two at Klöckner Stadium, in a span of four days. Due to the weather forecast in Charlottesville for Saturday, UVA's home opener against 1-1 Lehigh has been moved up a day, to 5 p.m. Friday.

Following that game, No. 13 High Point will visit on Monday night. That's the highest ranking in program history at High Point, and the 2-0 Panthers already have a road win at then-No. 2 Duke on their resume this season. High Point is at Drexel on Saturday before visiting Klöckner.

Tiffany sees the two-game homestand as a chance to build on what the Wahoos took away from the Loyola loss.

"The phrase we have here, it's a race to improve. The entire season is a race to improve," he said. "So we started at baseline. We have a lot of room to go, obviously. But it's a race to improve. Who's going to get better faster, and over the long haul here."

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