June 21, 2016
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- On April 30, in its final regular-season game, the Brown University men's lacrosse team scored 19 goals in a one-sided victory over Virginia.
That was no aberration for the Bears. Brown led the nation in scoring (16.3 goals per game) this season, and Lars Tiffany plans for UVA to play in a similarly aggressive and uptempo fashion.
Brown averaged 13.9 goals per game in 2015, the fifth-most in Division I.
"We're absolutely committed to this style of play," said Tiffany, who was introduced as Virginia's new head coach Tuesday. "This is the way the game used to be played. This is the way we played the game growing up, and it's the way I saw the game played.
"This is nothing new. We just dusted it off and brought back the `70s and `80s."
Tiffany compiled a 95-56 record in 10 seasons as Brown's head coach. At Virginia, he succeeds his mentor, Dom Starsia. Also a Brown graduate, Starsia coached Tiffany at the Ivy League school.
"To call him a role model is an understatement," Tiffany told reporters on a teleconference Tuesday night. "He's more a paternal father figure. Dom Starsia is an incredible man, and what I hope to do moving forward now is to honor his legacy, because he certainly is the face and the voice of college lacrosse for many of us."
Starsia posted a 274-103 record and won four NCAA titles during his 24 seasons at Virginia. His final team at UVA finished 7-8 after losing 19-11 to Brown in Kennesaw, Ga. Nine of the Wahoos' top 11 scorers from this season are expected back in 2017.
"There's certainly a lot of talent in the men's lacrosse program that I've just inherited," said Tiffany, who guided Brown to the NCAA semifinals last month.
Starsia is known for his recruiting prowess, Tiffany noted, and "I step into a position where the cupboard is not bare and there's quite a bit of talent."
UVA appealed to him, Tiffany said, because it's "an institution that is committed to excellence in both academic and athletic endeavors. The tremendous success that this institution has had on the athletic fields with strong, quality students is something that's almost unprecedented ... and that's important to me.
"I crave that. I really, really crave that. And so the opportunity to do that at Virginia was something that's unique and special to me."
Tiffany said he hopes to bring his assistant coaches, Kip Turner and Sean Kirwan, with him to UVA.
"My objective is to keep the staff intact," Tiffany said. "I'm in a very fortunate position to have created the staff that is the key, in my opinion, to our success ... We've created a really special bond between the three of us."
Turner, of course, was the starting goalkeeper on the Virginia team that won the NCAA title in 2006. At Brown, Turner worked with the goalies and faceoff specialists, and Jack Kelly was named the nation's most outstanding goalie this season. Kirwan directed a high-powered offense that included three players who scored at least 52 goals apiece.
"Sean Kirwan is the hottest offensive coordinator in the country right now," said Tiffany, who oversaw the Bears' defense.
Tiffany grew up in LaFayette, N.Y., about 10 miles south of Syracuse, and played pickup lacrosse with Native Americans on the nearby Onondaga Nation Reservation. After graduating in 1990 from Brown, where he was a two-time team captain for Starsia, Tiffany taught biology and coached lacrosse and football for four years at the Robert Louis Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, Calif.
He launched his career as a college lacrosse coach in 1994 at LeMoyne College, where he was an assistant on the men's team and co-head coach of the women's team. Then came stints as a men's assistant at Washington & Lee, at Dartmouth and at Penn State, where his tenure overlapped with that of Dennis Hohenshelt.
Hohenshelt, now Virginia's head volleyball coach, was an assistant at Penn State during the four years Tiffany coached there.
"I think he's a great fit for the Charlottesville community," Hohenshelt said Tuesday night. "He's a little bit of a laidback guy, but when it comes to lacrosse, he goes after it hard.
"I'm excited for the program, because I think he's a great hire and a great guy. I think he'll fit in with the other coaches here, and I think he'll bring his hard-work mentality into the program, which is great."
At Penn State, Tiffany worked for head coach Glenn Thiel, who as Virginia's head coach in 1972 led the `Hoos to their first NCAA title.
"It's a weird, weird circle," Hohenshelt said, laughing.
Before taking over at Brown after the 2006 season, Tiffany spent two years as head coach at Stony Brook, where he compiled an 18-13 record.
Under Tiffany, Brown won four Ivy League regular-season titles and made three appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Bears, who went 12-5 in 2015, finished 16-3 this season and might well have won the national title if not for the foot injury that hindered Tewaaraton Award winner Dylan Molloy during the NCAA tournament.
He's had other opportunities to leave his alma mater, Tiffany said, but was not ready to do so. "I just felt like there was unfinished business at Brown," he said.
Now, though, the program "is in a really good place," Tiffany said, and "it makes me feel better as an alum, and makes me feel better as a Brown lacrosse coach, that Brown can continue to be successful without me, and that's very important to me."
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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