Coming off a very successful last weekend in which they took down ACC foes North Carolina and Duke, the Cavaliers (10-5, 2-2 ACC) look to take care of business one more time at home against the Panthers (8-5, 0-3 ACC).
It will be yet another chance against a ranked opponent for Virginia, as the Cavaliers look to vault back into the top-25 rankings with a win.
Coming into the match, coach Steve Garland is focused on continuing to ingrain his system into the players. A main focus for the team is to focus on positives and continue to learn from the great things they’ve been doing the past few weeks.
“You always accentuate the positives,” coach Garland said. “This past weekend we did a really great job finding [a] way to win. It’s all part of the learning process. We have been learning how to win, and I want to keep these guys focused on how to go out and win these matches and score a lot of points … Just as coach Bennett and the basketball team is known for their defense, we want to be known for our offense.”
The Cavaliers need to learn fast because Pittsburgh is a very strong team that has been consistently ranked in the top 25. This match has the makings of another ACC slugfest.
“They’ve been nationally ranked most of the year … They’ve got a lot of wrestlers ranked tops in the nation,” Garland said. “It’s going to be a war again … Another crazy match. It’s nothing new, and I’m excited about the fact that we are home and we have shown we can wrestle well at home.”
This match will also be the Cavaliers’ Senior Day where a decorated senior class that has added unmeasurable value to the program has their final performance in front of their home crowd.
While the season will not technically be over Sunday, it is surely set to be an emotional day. Coach Garland wants to make sure that the team looks at senior day positively and isn’t distracted from the important match they will have at hand Sunday.
“Senior day can sometimes be a distraction because it’s also an emotional day,” Garland said. “It’s great to see these guys all leave equipped, with a lot of life experience, and in a better place than when they came in … It’s tough as a coach … You have to make it a positive moment and save all the crying for the banquet at the end of the year.”
Undoubtedly, Sunday’s match is set to be an extremely emotional, but also highly important day in terms of ACC seeding and national rankings. The Cavaliers ought not let themselves get distracted, and as Garland said, they need to continue to wrestle fundamentally and aggressively.
The season’s last dual home match against Pitt will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium.