Sean Kirwan is in his sixth season at Virginia and his eighth season under Lars Tiffany.
Last season, Kirwan helped guide fourth-seeded Virginia to its seventh NCAA title after a 17-16 triumphant victory over third-seeded Maryland at Rentschler Field (East Hartford, Conn.) on May 31. With no NCAA Tournament held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), UVA’s 2021 title marked the first time in men’s lacrosse program history it won back-to-back national championships, having done so in 2019. In 2021, Virginia became just the seventh men’s lacrosse program in Division-I history to win back-to-back national championships and the first D-I men’s lacrosse program to win six straight games in the NCAA finals (1999, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2019 and 2021).
For the fourth consecutive season (excluding 2020 due to COVID-19), Kirwan conducted a Cavalier unit that was NCAA D-I statistical champions in ground balls per game (41.94). Kirwan’s offense also finished in the top-10 nationally in several other statistical categories, including: third in goals scored per game (14.61), fifth in points per game (23.00), sixth in shot percentage (.338) and winning percentage (.778), and tenth in assists per game (8.39) and faceoff winning percentage (.606). For his efforts, Kirwan was named the 2021 IMLCA Division I Outstanding Coach of the Year.
Kirwan and the rest of Tiffany’s staff also molded nine USILA All-American selections in 2021, including Jared Conners, who was named the nation’s most outstanding midfielder and a First Team All-American. In addition to Conners, Connor Shellenberger (1st), Petey LaSalla (2nd), Matt Moore (2nd), Kyle Kology (3rd), Payton Cormier (HM), Cade Saustad (HM), Alex Rode (HM) and Dox Aitken (HM) were all named USILA All-Americans. Virginia’s nine All-American selections tied for the most by any team in the nation in 2021. Shellenberger was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, while Conners, LaSalla, Moore, Saustad and Rode were tabbed all-tournament selections.
UVA was 4-2 during the 2020 season before it canceled by the NCAA on March 12 due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The shortened season saw Michael Kraus become just the fourth Cavalier to reach the 100-goal, 100-assist mark for a career.
The third season under Kirwan’s offense was a special one for the Cavaliers as UVA tied a program record with 17 wins, capturing NCAA and ACC titles in the process. Virginia’s offense hummed all season, finishing No. 7 in the country in three key categories: scoring offense per game (14.10), assists per game (8.60) and points per game (22.70). Virginia also finished No. 4 in the nation in scoring margin per game (3.85). Leading the way was Matt Moore, who became the first player in program history to record 40+ goals and 40+ assists in the same season. Moore finished No. 1 in the ACC and No. 8 in the nation with 89 points (46-43). Dox Aitken, a first-team USILA All-American for the second-straight season, broke his own single-season UVA record for points by a midfielder (52). Aitken also became the only midfielder in program history to reach 100 goals for a career. Ian Laviano led the ACC and was No. 9 in the nation with 51 goals, which ranks No. 4 all-time at UVA on the single-season ledger.
In year number two under Kirwan in 2018, UVA finished No. 5 in the nation in assists per game (7.72) and No. 7 in the nation in both scoring offense (12.61) and points per game (20.33). Aitken first set UVA’s single-season record for points by a midfielder with 51 points while earning first-team USILA All-American honors. Kraus became the third Cavalier to tally at least 80 points in a season as he led UVA with 44 goals and 39 assists, earning second-team All-America honors. Moore was named ACC Freshman of the Year after scoring 19 goals and dishing out 15 assists.
During Kirwan’s first season at UVA in 2017, his offense finished No. 1 in the ACC and No. 3 in the nation in three offensive categories: goals per game (14.40), assists per game (9.13) and points per game (23.53). Under Kirwan’s guidance midfielder Aitken shattered UVA’s freshmen midfielder record of 29 goals and 40 points. Aitken broke the goals record in eight games. Kraus was named ACC Freshman of the Year and was the only rookie on the All-ACC team after leading UVA with 34 goals and 56 points.
Prior to UVA, Kirwan spent two seasons at Brown running the offense under Tiffany. Under Kirwan’s tutelage in 2016, the Brown offense was potent, leading the nation with 16.32 goals per game. Dylan Molloy was the recipient of the 2016 Tewaaraton Trophy and was named by the USILA its most outstanding player and attackman of the year. Kirwan helped change the landscape of college lacrosse in 2015 with a unique fast break offense that scored 237 goals, averaging 13.94 goals per game, fifth best in the nation.
Kirwan perfected his offensive approach at his alma mater, Tufts, guiding the Division III Jumbos’ offense to an NCAA-leading 423 goals in 2014, the most all-time by any team in NCAA lacrosse history (all divisions). His Tufts squad also led the nation in team goals and assists (251). Kirwan coached three 100+ point scorers, the first time in NCAA history that three players from one team scored over 100 points in the same season.
A native of New Jersey, where he attended Mountain Lakes High School, Kirwan graduated from Tufts in 2012, where he broke single season and career goal scoring records with 66 goals in 2011 and 150 career goals. An All-American in 2011 and 2012, he was also an Academic All-American and team captain in 2012 as well as winning the NCAA Division III National Championship with the school in 2010.
Kirwan and his wife, the former Taylor Smith of Guilford, Conn., reside in the Charlottesville area. The couple has one son, Cameron.