Cavalier Corner

June 2017

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JUNE 2017 ◆ 25 BY MIKE SCANDURA D URING HIS FOURTH-YEAR season at attack for Virginia lacrosse, Zed Williams led the Cavaliers with 25 assists; fin- ished second in points (52) and ground balls (54, which ranked second in the nation among non-defensive players); was the only attack in the nation with 54 ground balls; was tabbed as an All-ACC per- former; and was named to the watch list for the Tewaaraton Trophy, which is presented to the outstanding player in both men's and women's college lacrosse. However, Williams gives the impression that what he did wasn't enough for a Virginia team that lost four contests by one goal. "I felt I could have had a better year," Williams said. "I felt like I could have done more to help out the team. "I thought I could have helped out in the one-goal losses and could have made a play to help us come out on top in those games." While numerous college lacrosse play- ers would give virtually everything in their possession to have the type of season Wil- liams did, first-year head coach Lars Tiffany wasn't surprised at his standout's reaction. "There is a humble spirit about him that isn't manufactured," Tiffany said. "He does not think of himself as a great lacrosse player. "It's ingrained in who he is. He does think about others first. When he scores a goal there isn't any pointing to his chest. It's a six-man celebration. He's not about bring- ing individualized attention to himself." Ironically, Williams did bring attention to himself by deciding to accept a scholarship from Virginia instead of Syracuse or Albany. Williams has lived his life on the Cat- taraugus Reservation, which is part of the Iroquois confederacy (he's a member of the Seneca tribe) and located south of Buffalo, N.Y. At Silver Creek High, he finished his career with national records for goals (444) and points (729). Williams chose Virginia because of his relationships with former head coach Dom Starsia and former assistant coach Marc Van Arsdale. "I knew they were there to take care of me, and I could trust them," Williams said. "My family was excited, but they didn't like the fact I was going so far away. But at the end of the day it helped me because I couldn't come back on weekends. "It was a matter of being self-sufficient. My parents said we could get through this together." When Williams' father, Daniel, passed away in early April, the Cavaliers "came together" to support their teammate. "When his father passed away, his team- mates grieved for him," Tiffany said. "We could tell Zed really was hurting. I think we grabbed onto his emotions, rallied around him and made sure we were there for him." The fact family means so much to Wil- liams is exemplified by his shrugging off the fact he's the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college. "I don't see it as me being the first one," said Williams, who has four older brothers and two older sisters. "We all are graduat- ing. We've been blessed. I see it like we did it together." While playing a sport and meeting the high academic standards at a university like Virginia presented a challenge to Williams, Tiffany faced a challenge of his own in terms of coaching a player whom he didn't recruit. "I don't think there was any trepidation in terms of picking up our scheme," Tif- fany said. "There's no question the relation Dom and Zed had was unique. Zed went 500 miles away from home and his people because of Dom. "I'm fortunate that Zed was willing to give another coach a chance, and fortunately we earned his trust." The matter of trust was put to the test when Tiffany decided to switch Williams from midfield to attack. Instead of rebelling, Williams embraced the challenge. "It wasn't difficult at all," Williams said of the change in positions. "I love playing lacrosse. I would do anything to help out the team, and they felt that was where I could best help out the team." Tiffany, who enjoyed a great deal of suc- cess at Brown, brought an up-tempo system with him to Virginia. "He made the transition smoothly be- cause of his box lacrosse background," Tif- fany said. "With the system we brought to Virginia, where aggressive play and risk is encouraged, it was natural for him to be on attack because of his box lacrosse background." Williams has become a role model for Native American youngsters who live on the reservation, and he plans to use that status positively. "I really want to help as many kids as possible understand the importance of going to college, whether it be playing la- crosse or going to school," Williams said. "I'm going to encourage them to go to school." That Williams morphed into a solid stu- dent almost dwarfs his accomplishments on the lacrosse field. "Heather Downs, our academic coun- selor, raved about the progress he made as a student from his first year when he was overwhelmed with the academic rigors of this great institution to developing into a student who by the end didn't need much academic support at all," Tiffany said. "He graduated on time and always was a great lacrosse player." ◆ HUMBLE SPIRIT Zed Williams Finished His UVA Career Strong And Remained Focused On The Team Williams led the Cavaliers with 25 assists, and finished second in points (52) and ground balls (54). PHOTO BY MATT RILEY/COURTESY UVA "He does not think of himself as a great lacrosse player. It's ingrained in who he is. He does think about others first. When he scores a goal there isn't any pointing to his chest. It's a six-man celebration. He's not about bringing individualized attention to himself." HEAD COACH LARS TIFFANY ON WILLIAMS

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