Quentin Matsui Proud to Represent Minnesota at an ACC Powerhouse


This article appears in the March edition of US Lacrosse Magazine, available exclusively to US Lacrosse members. Join or renew today! Thank you for your support.

Quentin Matsui knew he’d be entering uncharted territory when he committed to Virginia as a highly touted recruit out of Eden Prairie, Minn. He’s used to the attention, developing as one of the state’s top recruits of all-time and making the cut for the U.S. U21 national team.

What he had not anticipated, however, were the frequent questions about his home state. During his freshman year in 2020, the curiosity started with an Arctic-themed inquisition.

Are there polar bears in Minnesota?

“I went with it and said, ‘Oh yeah, we have polar bears in the backyard all the time,’” Matsui said. “They completely bought it.”

Any time the temperature rises above 60 degrees in Charlottesville, Matsui’s teammates tease him about the conditions feeling like a Minnesota summer. “It gets to 80 and 90 and we have four seasons,” he joked.

Matsui takes his teammates’ eagerness and playful ignorance in stride. He’s one of fewer than 50 Minnesotans playing NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse in 2021 — and the first from his state to strap on the pads for the Cavaliers. He’s also the only player on the U.S. U21 roster from the North Star state.

Just as quickly as Matsui got used to the constant curiosity about his homeland, he acclimated to the speed and physicality of the college game. Matsui was thrust into a prominent role at Virginia as a freshman last year after Cade Saustad was injured. He started all six of Virginia’s games before the COVID-19 cancellation and impressed coach Lars Tiffany along the way.

“Quentin showed us that given a month, he would prove himself to be up for the one-on-one challenges,” Tiffany said. “He has also become more vocal, demonstrating a growing comfort with the defensive schemes and terminology, which is preparing him to be a contributor right away.”

Matsui said last year’s six-game stretch helped him get up to speed and did wonders for his confidence heading into 2021. He wants to make sure fans understand there’s more talent coming from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“There are plenty of talented guys in Minnesota. More and more of them are going Division I,” he said. “We ball out. A hundred percent.”

Matsui’s rise from Eden Prairie came quickly. In addition to his high school exploits, he also starred for the Team Minnesota and Project Midwest club teams. By his senior year, he was named Minnesota’s Mr. Lacrosse and was an Under Armour All-American.

Matsui tried out for the then-U.S. U19 team in the summer of 2019. He was named to the official roster last January before the world championship in Limerick, Ireland, was postponed until 2022 and World Lacrosse reclassified it as a U21 event.

“The transition [to college] was made a lot easier based on the tryouts for the U19 team,” Matsui said. “Those tryouts were no joke. We were flying around playing with guys who are incredibly talented. … Having that pressure made the jump a lot easier.”

Now, Matsui matches up with some of the most talented offensive players in college lacrosse. He has watched veterans like Kyle Kology and taken notes over the last few months, hoping to emulate their style on the field.

Matsui hopes to take his game to the next level as he continues into his final two seasons of college lacrosse.

“I want to establish myself as a dominant close defenseman,” he said. “I’m feeling confident in myself and continuing to learn and pick up new techniques.”

By the time Matsui takes the field in Limerick, he’ll have three years of college experience under his belt. Fellow U.S. U21 defensemen Jacob Snyder (Ohio State) and Ryan Schriber (Michigan) also started as freshmen at Power Five schools.

While excited to continue playing on the biggest stages, Matsui won’t soon forget where he came from.

“I definitely don’t take it for granted,” he said. “I love to represent Minnesota.”

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