CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- As back-to-back NCAA champions, Lars Tiffany and Virginia thought they knew where the bar was to win another championship last spring, but Maryland showed the Cavaliers otherwise.

"We knew it was tough to get back there, the land of great is lonely, to get back there was going to be really difficult," Tiffany said, "Maryland showed us, no, we've set the bar so much higher than before."

UVA played Maryland twice last season, losing both matchups by a combined 20 goals, including a nine-goal defeat in the NCAA Quarterfinals to end Virginia's quest for a third title. The Terrapins of course went on to finish an unbeaten season at 18-0 and lift the trophy in Hartford, going down as one of the greatest team's in college lacrosse history.

That day also set the new bar for Tiffany and his team as the Cavaliers enter Saturday's season opener against Michigan as the preseason No. 1 ranked team.

"That has driven us, propelled us to be more intense in practice throughout the entire fall and what we've seen in this preseason," Tiffany said, "Maybe a little too intense we're banging into each other."

The preseason ACC favorites bring back nine of ten starters from a season ago, including Tewaaraton Award finalist Connor Shellenberger, a unanimous preseason first team All-American. The only starter not back for Virginia is the program's all-time points leader in Matt Moore, but Tiffany has plenty of options to turn to. Former No. 1 overall recruit Griffin Schutz likely takes over in attack, while UVA also brings in former Vermont All-American midfielder Thomas McConvey, former top-overall recruit and All-Pac12 linebacker at Stanford Ricky Miezan and No. 2 overall recruit Truitt Sunderland.

The plethora of options gives Tiffany and staff plenty to tinker with, but also represents the necessary firepower Virginia saw Maryland bring in a year ago.

"So many of these good pieces and so many good guys and they just work so well together," senior attackman/midfielder Xander Dickson said, "So that's what we're trying to take is we have the same roster if not a little better and a little more powerful and can we work as well as they do together as a unit because that's what made them so great."

As is tradition in the program, Tiffany had players read a book this offseason and this year was a novel detailing the famous New Zealand "All Blacks" rugby team. The main takeaway Tiffany wanted to resonate with his team was the mentality used and one the Cavaliers will need to climb back to the top of the sport.

"They did such a great job putting their players in positions to make plays and they trust everyone out there," junior defenseman Cole Kastner said, "I think you can see a lot of that with our team this year and taking it even a step further, making sure that we're really elevating everyone's level every single day."

Despite the preseason No. 1 ranking, all the preseason All-American accolades and the amount of talent coming into the program, Tiffany says there is still plenty of room to grow in February after watching Virginia play two scrimmages against Navy and Georgetown.

"We're not a great team right now, we can be a great team, you see the parts," Tiffany said, "Honestly I don't know if two plus two equals four right now, I think we're really at a three, 3.5."