Q&A with Greg Monaco
Junior Greg Monaco (Virginia Beach, Va.) was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s National Team of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal vs. Virginia Tech on Friday (Oct. 15). Monaco and the third-ranked Cavaliers travel to No. 15 Boston College on Friday (Oct. 22) for a road ACC contest. Kick-off in Chestnut Hill, Mass., is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Question: Being a defender, you have scored two goals in your three-year Cavalier career. What was the feeling like getting the game-winner against conference and in-state rival Virginia Tech?
Monaco: I’ve only scored one other goal in my career, and that was last year in Portland, Ore., against Washington. It’s just a whole different feeling when it’s in overtime and it’s sudden death. It was incredible.
Question: The 3-1 victory in Blacksburg, Va., against Virginia Tech last season was the third game of the 16-consecutive games that your team was unbeaten en route to the NCAA Championship. Do you feel that kind of momentum building this year after the victory against the Hokies?
Monaco: The regular season is winding down and Coach [Gelnovatch] always talks about how each game can be the game that your season takes off. My second year it was at Virginia Tech and we went on to make it to the final of the ACC Tournament. Last year, we won at Virginia Tech and ended up not losing again for the rest of the season. It would be awesome if this year it was the same thing. The first half against Tech we were borderline atrocious. That second half though, if that’s the team and that’s going to be our brand then we will be a dangerous team to deal with. I’m hopeful.
Question: Right now you are fourth in the ACC standings with Boston College right behind you at fifth. Do you pay attention to points and standings as the conference tournament gets closer?
Monaco: My first two years I didn’t pay attention to that at all. You take a glance at it, but at the end of the day people ask you questions like if you’re going to play harder against Virginia Tech because they’re your in-state rivals. And the answer is no, because I go out there and play the exact same way no matter who it is. Boston College is going to get the same kind of game from me that Tech got. I think we understand the seeding implications, but we play to win every single game. I’m going to be just as disappointed losing to a team at the bottom of the standings as I would be to a team that’s right behind us.
Question: You talked about the Virginia soccer brand. Last year a lot was made of the defensive unit that posted 11-consecutive shutouts and led the nation in goals-against average. This season, the team has still surrendered the least amount of goals (seven) in the conference and goalkeeper Diego Restrepo leads the ACC in shutouts (seven) and goals-against average (0.52). Is defense the brand again this season?
Monaco: Diego has had to do even more this year, if that’s possible. Having him back there as the rock is so comforting to the four of us defenders. We don’t want him to have to make more saves, but that’s just kind of the way it’s played out so far. With Sean Hiller and Sean Murnane as the new defenders this year, they have really stepped up more than I could have pictured they would have. Hiller has a few goals and a couple assists and Murnane has assists. Not only are they holding down the defensive part of their games, they are contributing to the offense as well.
Question: You have been wearing a protective face mask for most of this season. Any update on that injury?
Monaco: It was initially for a broken nose. I’m supposed to wear it for 4-6 weeks and I’m right around the point that it might be able to come off. I’d like to say I’m fearless, but when I have a mask in front of me it makes it a little easier.
Question: What do you think is the most challenging part of being a student-athlete?
Monaco: Time management for sure. Your first year is the most shocking year. You come in wanting to concentrate on soccer, but you’re also at one of the most prestigious academic schools in the country. You have to balance those two things out if you want to succeed here.