EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (VirginiaSports.com) – The No. 4 seeded Virginia Cavaliers (13-4) used a 6-0 run in the second quarter and held on late to knock off the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels (13-3) in the NCAA Semifinal Round, 12-11, on Saturday afternoon at Rentschler Field. UVA advances to NCAA title game for the second tournament in a row and for the 11th time in program history.
Connor Shellenberger led UVA with six points on two goals and four assists. He has at least five points in all three NCAA Tournament games this season. Payton Cormier added three goals, while Alex Rode made 15 saves between the pipes in the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
UVA took a 9-4 lead into halftime courtesy of a 6-0 run. Trailing 4-3 with 12:14 left in the second quarter, Matt Moore took the ball to the cage to start the streak. Five different Cavaliers scored during the run and Charlie Bertrand scored twice, capping the first-half scoring with 16 seconds left in the second quarter.
UNC sprinted out on a 4-1 run to start the third, cutting UVA’s lead to two goals, 10-8. Shellenberger assisted back-to-back goals to close the third-quarter scoring to push UVA’s lead back to four goals, 12-8. Ian Laviano found nylon with 59 seconds left to prove to be all the Cavaliers need to hold on to the win.
UNC finished the game on a 3-0 run, while shutting out the Virginia offense in the fourth quarter. William Perry scored back-to-back goals to bring the Tar Heels within one goal, 12-11, with 3:05 left to play. After a failed UVA clear, the game’s final sequence saw UNC’s Chris Gray dodge to force a switch. UVA’s Chris Merle jammed his hands, forcing Gray to look toward the crease to pass. Gray’s pass was knocked down by Cole Kastner as time expired.
UVA STAT LEADERS
• M Connor Shellenberger2 goals, 4 assists
• A Payton Cormier3 goals
• M Charlie Bertrand 2 goals
• M Grayson Sallade8 GBs, 2 CTs
• GK Alex Rode15 saves, 2 GBs
• UVA is playing in its 40th NCAA Tournament, which is No. 3 all-time.
• UVA defeated a No. 1 seed for the third time and for the first time since topping then-No. 1 Johns Hopkins in the 2003 NCAA semifinals. UVA is now 3-5 all-time against the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 seed.
• UVA’s win is its 55th all-time win in the NCAA Tournament, which ranks No. 4 all-time.
• UVA is now 11-13 all-time in the NCAA Semifinal Round• UVA advances to the finals for the 11th time in program history and for the second tournament in a row.
• UVA has won seven NCAA games in a row, which is the longest NCAA winning streak in program history.
• UVA is 7-1 all-time in the NCAA under Lars Tiffany.
• Connor Shellenberger finished with two goals and four assists. He has at least five points in all three of his NCAA Tournament games. He was 2-3 vs. Bryant in the first round and 6-1 vs. Georgetown in the quarterfinals. He has 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points thus far this NCAA Tournament.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
“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
UVA will advances to the NCAA title game against Maryland (No. 3 seed). The final matchup will be played at 1 p.m. at Rentschler Field. The finals will be broadcast on ESPN2.