Jesse Greaves loves to hear the trash talk when opponents believe they have found a mismatch against the 5-foot-8, 155-pound Andover High senior.
When Greaves hears that, it’s when he strikes.
“I find quite often that when I’m on defense I will hear opponents calling for the ball,” he said. “I know I am by no means a huge guy, so they think they can take me. But that’s when I lay my hands on them, get them in the hips and make them lose the ball. They never see it coming.”
After three seasons as a standout for the Golden Warriors, opposing players should know better than to mess with Greaves.
The midfielder has become a varsity stalwart as face-off ace for the Andover High lacrosse team, which was set to open post-season play by hosting Salem on Wednesday.
“Jessie is just terrific on face-offs,” Warriors coach Wayne Puglisi said. “But he’s done a lot for us over the last three years. He’s also a very smart guy.”
Greaves — who is ranked in the top 5 percent of his senior class — has scored 11 goals for the season, but his greatest skill is on face-offs, where his strategy and toughness can often allow him to change the momentum of a game.
“Lacrosse is a game that’s all about ball possession,” Greaves said. “After your team scores a goal, if you can get the ball back by winning the face-off, it can kill the other team. Nothing is more debilitating than if you can score a few goals in a row.”
For Greaves, his journey to lacrosse stardom actually began on the soccer field.
“I grew up loving soccer,” he said. “My father played lacrosse in high school, and he said that lacrosse was a lot like soccer. The minute I picked up a lacrosse stick, I loved it.”