The quarterfinals of the Premier Lacrosse League playoffs took place this past weekend and the Waterdogs, Whipsnakes, Atlas, and Chaos advanced to the semifinals in Philadelphia on September 5th. Five players from those teams are alumni of the Virginia Cavaliers men’s lacrosse program: Ryan Conrad (Waterdogs), Michael Kraus (Waterdogs), Mark Cockerton (Atlas), Dox Aitken (Atlas), and Zed Williams (Whipsnakes).
The top-seeded Waterdogs, who earned a bye through to the semifinals, have two former Wahoos on the roster. Ryan Conrad and Michael Kraus were both on the Virginia team that won the 2019 national championship, the sixth in UVA program history and first under head coach Lars Tiffany. Conrad was a USILA first-team All-American and MVP of the ACC Tournament in 2019. This season, Conrad has recorded five goals, 11 ground balls, and 11 forced turnovers playing midfield for the Waterdogs.
Michael Kraus was a third-team All-American and a Tewaaraton Trophy Nominee in 2019. Kraus recorded 39 goals and 36 assists in 2019 and had a hat trick in the national title game against Yale. Kraus has seen limited action for the Waterdogs this season, notching three assists and a goal in four games played.
The Waterdogs will play the No. 5 seed and two-time defending league champion Whipsnakes, who defeated the No. 4 Redwoods, 14-13, in the quarterfinals. Zed Williams, who starts at attack for the Whipsnakes, played at UVA from 2014-2017 and was an All-ACC and All-American performer in 2017. Last season, Williams scored 20 goals in the PLL playoffs and led the Whipsnakes to the 2020 PLL Championship. Williams was named the Jim Brown MVP of the 2020 PLL playoffs. This season, Williams has 23 goals so far for the Whipsnakes, who are attempting to win their third consecutive PLL title.
The other semifinal is between the No. 6 Chaos, who defeated the No. 3 Archers 13-10 in the quarterfinals, and the No. 2 Atlas, who defeated the No. 7 Cannons 13-9. The Atlas also have two former UVA men’s lacrosse players on their roster. Mark Cockerton played for Virginia from 2011 to 2014 and was part of the 2011 Cavaliers team that won the program’s fifth national championship. Cockerton recorded two assists in the title game as a freshman and went on to have a very successful career at Virginia, including scoring 49 goals in 2013, 4th most in a single season in UVA history, and earning All-ACC and third-team All-American honors in 2013 and 2014. Cockerton has nine goals and four assists for the Atlas this season.
Dox Aitken was selected with the 8th overall pick in the first round of the 2021 PLL college draft after a decorated career over the course of five seasons at the University of Virginia from 2017-2021. Well-known for taking over in the fourth quarter in what was called "Dox Time", Aitken won two national championships with Virginia in 2019 and 2021. He is UVA’s all-time leader in points and goals by a midfielder and is tied for 4th overall in UVA history with 138 goals. Aitken was also a first-team All-American 2019 and was an All-American all five of his seasons at UVA. In five games this season, Aitken has recorded four goals and two assists for the Atlas.
Be sure to tune in to NBCSN at 11am and 1:30pm on September 5th to see these former UVA lacrosse stars battle it out in the semifinals of the Premier Lacrosse League playoffs.