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Redshirt sophomore defenseman Matt Lovejoy and the No. 2 Virginia men’s lacrosse program host No. 18 Stony Brook in its 2010 home opener on Saturday at 3 p.m., at the University Hall Turf Field. Lovejoy, a native of Orford, N.H., recently caught up with to chat about returning to the field after injury kept him out in 2009, along with questions about what he learned from watching in 2009, what he has learned from his older brother who plays in the NHL and some insight into free time activities.

Question: You missed last season due to injury, how great is it to be back out there starting after a year layoff?
Lovejoy: I could not even put my disappointment into words. Last year was the longest year of my life, but I tried to make the most of it. I learned as much as I could, and I think I grew a lot as a player both mentally and physically. I just tried to make the best of a rough opportunity, but it feels good to be back.

Question: Certain games must have been harder to watch than others. Which game topped the list for you?
Lovejoy: Definitely the Cornell game in the NCAA Tournament. It was the last game of the year, and it just seemed a little flat. Syracuse was a pretty tough one to watch too. It was such a fun and exciting game, and there is such a great atmosphere in the [Carrier] Dome.

Question: You are on a defense with some stellar senior leadership. Now in your third year in the program, what do you bring to the table as some younger players are being leaned on to carry some of the load?
Lovejoy: I feel comfortable and familiar on the field. Sitting out last year, after playing the year before in the mix, made me see things differently and learn from it. I was not as worried about myself, and I learned more. So I come into this year with more confidence than normal, and I’m comfortable with my teammates. We are all comfortable with each other.

Question: Your older brother Ben was a successful lacrosse and hockey player at Dartmouth and now he is in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins. What have you taken from him and his experiences?
Lovejoy: He is a role model first and foremost. I am very into my preparation, from what I eat to stretching, and he is a big influence on that. I think the guys on the team kid me a little about some of the extra preparation. He has taught me to do everything you can before and after games to be prepared as much as possible. I think the best advice he has given to me is, “you go to the University of Virginia, you have great people around you, and you do not have to win every game yourself. Just do your job.” – That is a Bill Belichick line, “Just do your job” – we are big New England Patriot fans. I have seen from my brother what it takes to compete at the highest level, and he has set an example for me.

Question: So you are a Patriots fan? Tell us what it was like your freshman year to play in Memorial Day Weekend at the stadium there in Foxboro.
Lovejoy: It was a dream come true to walk on that field. I am a big Tom Brady fan, a big Patriots fan, so I can’t wait to go back to Boston when the NCAA brings back the Final Four weekend.

Question: What is the one thing the guys on the team kid you about that you can’t help but laugh in agreement?
Lovejoy: I am pretty flexible and can pretty much do a full split, so when people give me a hard time about that – there is not much I can say in defense. I also do Bikram/Hot Yogo in a 110-degree room – you really can’t defend yourself there.

Question: Where is your go to restaurant in Charlottesville?
Lovejoy: That is tough. I like Mellow Mushroom a lot. I am a cheese or pepperoni pizza guy. I like to keep it simple.

Question: A lot of music choices in Charlottesville – push comes to shove, concert or movie?
Lovejoy: It depends on the concert. I saw Bruce Springsteen. I am a big country fan so I went to a Keith Urban concert. I actually went to the Jay-Z concert too. But I like movies though -I am a big fan of Netflix – I have it streamed through their website to my TV. I am kind of a loser, so in the end I would have to pick movies. I am a big Matt Damon fan. Good Will Hunting is probably my favorite movie of all-time.

Question: Keeping with the movie theme, who would play Coach Starsia in a movie?
Lovejoy: I don’t know if anyone could play Coach Starsia. I feel like Coach Starsia would be like a Godfather-type character.

Question: Who would play you?
Lovejoy: I compare myself mostly to Brad Pitt in Troy.

Question: Is there anyone on the team who would make fun of you for that answer?
Lovejoy: Everyone – as they probably rightfully should.

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