With the news that Greg Danseglio will at least miss the Spring 2015 season with the Cavaliers, there is a relatively young corp of players that will need to be the next men up for Virginia. Danseglio was an important piece for the Wahoos and his presence will be missed.
Virginia statistically needed a lot of work after being eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Johns Hopkins. The Cavs ranked 47th in scoring defense at the end of 2014, giving up an average of 11.13 goals per game. The offense will have a hard time covering that margin with the Mark Cockerton’s 3 goals a game average having graduated.
Junior Tanner Scales is the leader on the defense with Danseglio gone. He was a third team All American last season. In fact, he has played in every game that Virginia has had scheduled for the last two years, starting all but six of them. He will be counted to lock down the opposition’s best player while leading the young group surrounding him.
Scales’s high school teammate will anchor the defensive midfield as long stick midfielder. Senior Tanner Ottenbreit has played in all games, but nine during his time in Charlottesville. He is a threat in transition, picking up an assist against the regular season matchup with Hopkins. Ottenbreit needs to be more focus between the lines as he has given up loose balls that have led to big goals in games. In 2014 he shared these duties with Joe Lisicky, who has since graduated.
Behind these two upperclassman are a few players who have some experience under their belt, but haven’t cracked the starting lineup as of yet. Davi Sacco is a senior and looking to capitalize on his final season in Charlottesville. He saw limited time, but has played well in the fall and will give the coaching staff experience at the position if his number is called. He was a member of the man down defense, seeing action in six games.
Junior Nate Menninger is the most experienced back up, having played in eleven of the 16 games that the Cavaliers played in 2014. He transferred from Hamilton College, giving the Wahoos a long pole face off option. He scored one goal on the season and won nearly 60% of the limited number of face offs that he took.
A number of underclassman have the opportunity to play right away for Coach Starsia. The team acquired Logan Greco (Smithtown West), Scott Hooper (Hotchkiss School), and Chase Campbell (Gilman). All three come from school with a great amount of competition and will come in looking to place their names among the elite defenseman in the nation quickly.
Matt Barrett will need his defense to play well in front of him to avoid a sophomore slump. His goals against mark of 11.40 needs to be improved upon. If the team in front of him takes time to
gel, it will be a long season for Barrett, who saw his confidence fluctuate throughout the season. The physical defense pressing out against all opposition might have to settle more closely in order to protect their goalie.
For Virginia, the options are there, but there are big shoes to fill witt Danseglio out of the lineup. He was the most experienced member of the defense and needed to be the anchor until the pieces around him could get acclimated to the pace of ACC Lacrosse. It will be tough sledding early, which will have their opponents even more ready for the tilts against Virginia. Virginia has dodge similar bullets before and will look to do the same in 2015.