Semi-Final upset.12-11. The fourth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers Rode to a date with Maryland for the NCAA DI Championships. Virginia (13-4) got the best of the top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (13-3) in an epic battle, 12-11. Rode was the defensive story with 15 saves with Connor Shellenberger leading the offense with his third consecutive game of five points or more.
To the Action
Dox Aitken (1 helper) set up Jeff Connor (1g) on his 11th on the season to put Virginia in front with 2:30 elapsed. UNC dominated the quarter with markers from Connor McCarthy (1g), Chris Gray (3g, 2a), and William Perry (5G). Payton Cormier (3g) made it 2-1 but the ‘Heels ended the quarter with the 3-2 advantage.
Shellenberger (2g, 4a) evened the score sheet at the 14:06 mark before Perry had an answer to make it 4-3. The ‘Heels fought back with a rally with Matt Moore (1g), Charlie Bertrand (2g), Cormier notching his 42nd followed by Jared Connors (1g) at the 5:36 mark, Shellenberger setting up Pater Garno (1g) with Bertrand notching his 26th to end the half with Virginia in charge, 9-4.
UNC unfurled a huge second half with Gray and Perry getting it to 9-6. Shellenberger stopped the mini-run with his 33rd but Lance Tillman (1g) and Alex Trippi (1g) made it a two-goal game. Cormier and Ian Laviano (1g) closed the third with Virginia up, 12-8.
That would be the last two goals scored for the Cavs as they went into a defense mode and suffered goals from Gray and a pair from Perry to get it to a one-goal affair with 3:05 remaining. The Virginia defense tightened down and broke up a pass in the final seconds to cement the 12-11 win.
For the Victory
“What a fantastic lacrosse game. Joe Breschi’s team never gave up. Alex Rode and our defense was making stops, but we couldn’t get the ball to our offense and take time off the clock. When everyone’s watching, Alex Rode steps up even bigger. When on the biggest stage, this is Alex Rode’s platform. We saw a highly powered offense that has12 different options.
Preparing for North Carolina is very difficult because of all the weapons and with Dave Metzbower, a fantastic offensive coordinator, you know he’s got so many different things he can do to you. Our defense held as much as he could and then Alex bailed us out time and time again, especially with our man down when he made some huge saves. This is Alex Rode, that’s who he is, and we’re very grateful that he plays for Virginia.” – Lars Tiffany The victory marks the 7th Straight NCAA tournament victory for Virginia.
UNC had the edge in shots, 49-39, and shots on goal, 26-17. Virginia committed 27 turnovers with the ‘Heels having only 12.
Virginia won the groundball battle, 43-38 for a Semi-Final upset.