Most young college lacrosse players have to be coaxed into being aggressive near the goal no matter the situation. Not so for Virginia’s Matt Moore and Ian Laviano, who have combined for 142 goals over the past two seasons.
“Matt is the complete opposite. He has never been one to pass up a shot,” Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany said. “He is dangerous to both teams. He can score with the best players in the country, but he also gets a little over aggressive at times, which leads to turnovers. That’s what he’s been working on.”
Moore showed his moxie on Saturday in overtime with the Cavaliers’ Final Four berth on the line. He whipped a sidearm shot through a crowd to clinch the Wahoos’ comeback against Maryland. It was the first of his many shots on the day that found net, but even as the misses racked up, he didn’t hesitate to take the winning shot.
“You have to play aggressive. If you’re passive, you’re a step behind,” Moore said. “Lacrosse is an offensive game. We want to play fast, but we also want to play smart.”
After earning ACC Freshman of the Year honors last season as a midfielder, Moore moved to attack this fall. He admits there was a bit of a transition period, as he hadn’t played the position since early in his high school career, but it’s safe to say he has settled in.
Moore leads the Cavaliers with 40 assists, and his game-winner on Saturday in Hempstead, New York, was his 40th goal of the season. He’s the first Virginia player to ever rack up 40 of each in a season, and he’s only the fourth player in program history with at least 80 points in a season. Teammate Michael Kraus put up 83 points last spring but fell one assist shy of a 40-40 season.
“Matt is an incredibly talent athlete, and he has played a lot of lacrosse,” Tiffany said. “We fortunate to have a versatile player like him on the roster. He makes the guys around him better, and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.”
Now playing alongside Moore, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Laviano brings the same full steam ahead approach to playing attack but in a much smaller package. This season, Laviano (5-8, 175) leads the Cavaliers with 46 goals. Last fall, his 37 goals ranked No. 2 all-time among UVa freshmen.
“Ian Laviano has no fear,” Tiffany said. “He’s not very big in stature, but he may have more heart than anyone on the team. He plays 100 miles per hour whether he has the ball in his stick or not.”
Laviano and Moore came in as part of the same recruiting class, and now that they’re both playing up top, their connection just continues to grow.
“I know if Ian is open for a fraction of a second, I’ve got to hit him because it isn’t going to last,” Moore said. “He’s never stationary on the field. He’s always creating chances at the cage.”