According to Virginia coach Dom Starsia, the grind is about to get tougher for his men's lacrosse team.
The 8-1 Cavaliers open ACC play Saturday afternoon when they travel to Maryland, the team they beat in last year's national championship game.
"The ACC is like if you had to fight your brother in a heavyweight boxing match," said Starsia, whose team went 1-2 in the conference during the regular season last spring. "You know you have to win. You know you're going to get pummeled. There's not going to be great joy in beating up your brother. But it has to be done."
Virginia is coming off last weekend's 11-10 overtime loss at home to Johns Hopkins, which knocked the Cavaliers out of the top spot in both major men's lacrosse polls. UVa is ranked No. 2 in the media poll this week, third in the coaches' poll.
It was the program's first loss since Duke beat Virginia 19-10 in the first round of the 2011 ACC Tournament.
"That gave us a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. And also it took us down a peg," admitted junior Matt White. "Now we know we are beatable. Very beatable, at that. And I think that that will help us play a little bit better this weekend."
"We're definitely working harder. We were getting a little complacent for a while," agreed junior Harry Prevas. "There's still work that has to be done. I think having a loss is definitely important in seeing that we still have work to do."
At 5-2, Maryland is ranked ninth in both major lacrosse polls this week.
"It's going to be a great game on Saturday," said White. "And it's always fun when you start to play these ACC games. The pace quickens a little bit, and hopefully we'll come out of there, out of Byrd with a W."