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Unsung Standout Plays Valuable Role – by Carlos Valle

When thinking of the high profile positions on a lacrosse team, short stick defensive midfield probably doesn’t come to mind. However, that didn’t discourage Cavalier senior Will Barrow from taking on that role three years ago. Although his position may not be the most glamorous, Barrow knows that it is still vital to the success of his team.

“It’s almost like a fullback in football,” Barrow said. “You don’t hear about too many defensive midfielders unless they are doing something really good or doing something wrong. Fortunately for me it’s usually because I am doing something good. A lot of offenses try to attack the short stick defensive midfielder but taking that away from them really helps the defense out. It makes other teams respect the way you play and change their offense because of the way you play defense.”

Barrow isn’t the only one who understands the importance of his position. Virginia head coach Dom Starsia can rest assured the ball will move up the field when Barrow is in the game.

“Will’s strengths are the essence of Virginia lacrosse,” Starsia said. “If you’re looking for flat out speed, you go to the defensive midfield. That’s the group that after a save or a repossession, you get a chance to strike up the field quickly with. It’s a more complex position for us. He is probably one of the best individual short sticks in the country. We’ve always been able to put him on somebody and know that that guy is pretty well covered. His is a position that is underappreciated, but certainly not by people that know the sport of lacrosse and certainly not by the coaching staff at Virginia.”

Barrow’s position carries with it a lot of responsibility, but that didn’t stop him from taking on more leadership opportunities this season. As a senior and returning starter, Barrow knows that it is his duty to help transition the incoming freshman to one of the top college lacrosse programs in the country.

“This group of freshman has picked up on our style of play pretty quickly,” Barrow said. “You kind of know coming into the season that the older guys are going to have a huge amount of responsibility. The top recruits come in and everyone wants to see them live up to the hype. So in drills you help them out. You push them to go harder in the weight room. You push them to go harder in the classroom. And you make sure that they are handling what they need to handle on and off the field.”

Another, less common, responsibility Barrow has undertaken is that of being a team captain. His teammates clearly understand and acknowledge his importance to the team and have rewarded him for it.

“It’s a privilege to have your teammates choose you as a captain,” Barrow said. “To have that honor here at the University of Virginia is something I thought I would never have a chance to do. I couldn’t be happier and I will never forget it.”

It is safe to say that a teammate who truly understands the Baldwin, N.Y., native is his roommate and fellow team captain, Mike Timms.

“Will is great on the field and he’s great off the field,” Timms said. “He brings an extreme amount of hustle every time he gets out there that is tough to match. He’s one of the most athletic players on our team and that’s just something that there is no substitute for and everyone can see that. That’s why he has been a contributor all four years.”

Yet another responsibility Barrow has taken on is his helping his team overcome adversity. Virginia’s star attackman senior Ben Rubeor did not see action in the season opener against Drexel, which might have had some Cavalier fans worried. Barrow, however, was not fazed at all. In fact, he saw it as an opportunity.

“When we have guys hurt, everyone needs to step up their game a little bit,” Barrow said. “One thing that coach Starsia preaches to us is that no matter what the situation is, an unexpected penalty, a sudden change in momentum, you just have to react and keep going. No one expected Ben to be hurt. But now that it has happened, guys are excited to pick up their play and show that although Ben is a huge part of our team, there are guys that can fill his spot and we will still be successful.”

There is no doubt that if Virginia is going to be successful in the postseason again this year, Barrow will be a huge part of that. He shines in filling one of the least recognized roles on the field.

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