More often than not this season, Virginia men’s lacrosse player Logan Greco found himself head to head with the opposition’s top player, but that wasn’t by design.
“Since the Loyola game, we don’t care about matchups,” Greco said. “It doesn’t matter who is covering who. We can switch every matchup, and we can stay on every matchup. That’s something this defense has really embraced and that has actually helped us with our slide schemes. Instead of being so matchup focused, we’ve been more team defense focused.”
Loyola’s Pat Spencer scored five goals in the season opener and the Greyhounds beat Virginia, 17-9. Since then, the most goals the Cavaliers have given up in a game is 14, and they didn’t allow their opponent to score more than 10 in four of the final six regular season games.
The Cavaliers expect a test Saturday in the ACC Tournament championship game, though. Virginia welcomes Notre Dame to Klöckner Stadium. The Irish are coming off a win over Duke, and they’re led by two-time All-American Bryan Costabile, who has scored a team-high 36 goals and 39 points.
“He’s one of the best middies we play all year. He’s big, strong and powerful, and he’s got an awesome shot,” Greco said. “So defensively, we just need to be able to slow him down and slide to him effectively. We have to get to his hands faster so he doesn’t have time to shoot.”
The Cavaliers (12-3) limited Costabile to just one goal March 16 in a 13-11 regular season win over the Fighting Irish. But Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany warned the Wahoos aren’t going to face the same offense on Saturday.
Notre Dame (8-5) ended the regular season win with a 12-10 win over the same North Carolina team that UVa had to rally in the fourth quarter to beat in last weekend’s ACC Tournament semifinals. The Irish earned a second-straight trip to the title game with another 12-10 win over Duke in last Saturday’s other semifinal.
“They look more dynamic. They look more aggressive going to goal and they look more dangerous offensively,” Tiffany said. “They really have four men who can put tremendous pressure on the goal.”
Tiffany mentioned young players Wheaton Jackoboice, who has 14 goals and 13 assists on the season, and Connor Morin, who is third on the team with 21 goals and 32 points. He also mentioned Brendan Gleason, who is Notre Dame’s second leading scorer with 23 goals and 12 assists and recently returned from injury.
The Cavaliers made it to the conference title game last season and lost to Notre Dame on their home field. For Greco, the most veteran player on the Virginia roster, his career goal relies on slowing that offense down on Saturday.
“You come to Virginia to win ACC championships,” Greco said. “In my five years, we’ve failed to do that four times.”