By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The goal for the UVa men’s lacrosse team remains the same: to win the NCAA title in Baltimore next month. To do so, however, the seventh-ranked Cavaliers will have to overcome the loss of their most experienced defenseman.
Redshirt junior Matt Lovejoy, a two-year starter, missed Virginia’s overtime win over North Carolina with a severely separated shoulder, and he won’t play again this season.
Lovejoy’s replacement is Harry Prevas, a sophomore from Towson, Md.
Prevas is “a smart lacrosse player who’s got a really good stick,” UVa coach Dom Starsia said Wednesday morning. “Very good at picking off passes, picking the ball up off the ground. He’s a poised kid. We’re clearly not starting from scratch having Harry out there. He has subbed in for all the guys over the course of the year. He’s experienced.”
The first-team defense now consists of Prevas, freshman Scott McWilliams and redshirt junior Chris Clements, a converted defensive midfielder. Chris Landon, a seldom-used sophomore, becomes the first defenseman off the bench, Starsia said.
Fortunately for the Wahoos, they’re more experienced in the cage and at long-stick midfielder, where the starters are seniors Adam Ghitelman and Bray Malphrus, respectivey.
Lovejoy, who reinjured his shoulder April 2 against Maryland, usually drew the opposing team’s top attackman, and he turned in several noteworthy performances this season.
“But more than anything else,” Starsia said, “if you go back and watch tapes of our games, you see him in the middle of the defense and pointing to guys and talking to guys. And on an inexperienced unit, he was the experienced guy out there. He was our best team defender on a unit that people were kind of giving us a little grief about, for our play away from the goal.”
Without Lovejoy, UVa edged ACC rival North Carolina 11-10 in overtime Saturday at Klöckner Stadium. Next up for Virginia is a showdown with defending NCAA champion Duke in Durham, N.C. The 10th-ranked Blue Devils (2-0, 9-4) host the ‘Hoos (1-1, 8-3) at noon Saturday.
The Cavaliers’ trademark under Starsia has been aggressive man-to-man defense, but they played zone extensively — and effectively — against the Tar Heels.
“I think it’s certainly a tool for us to continue to work on,” Starsia said. “I would say that I don’t think we want to be a 60-minute zone team. We probably played more than I imagined we would in the Carolina game, but it’s something we can turn to that gives us a nice changeup. So I certainly think it’ll be part of our regular preparation now as we move forward.”