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April 19, 2002
Durham, N.C.

Virginia used a balanced offense and an outstanding defensive effort to defeat North Carolina 10-3 in the first semifinal game of the ACC Tournament Friday night at Duke’s Koskinen Stadium. The game was delayed more than 90 minutes due to thunderstorms in the area, but the delay didn’t seem to bother the Cavaliers.

It took the top-ranked Cavaliers almost six minutes to get on the board, but they struck for four goals in a five-and-a-half minute span in the opening period to grab the early momentum and a 4-0 lead. Freshman Joe Yevoli opened the scoring with his 25th goal of the season, while classmate John Christmas tallied his 20th of the year less than two minutes later. They become the first pair of freshmen in Virginia history to score 20 or more goals in a season.

Conor Gill scored the first of his two goals on the evening with 6:04 left in the quarter and A.J. Shannon closed the scoring by connecting on a Christmas feed with 3:32 remaining.

Virginia peppered Tar Heel goalie Paul Spellman with 19 shots in the opening period, while North Carolina was only able to take six shots in the first quarter.

The second quarter took on a decidedly deliberate tone as Tim Gosier’s extra-man goal 29 seconds into the second period put the Tar Heels on the board and was the only score of the quarter.

Virginia’s All-ACC goalie Tillman Johnson stopped eight of the 18 shots he faced in the first half and finished with 13 saves in the game.

The third quarter was equally as deliberate as the second as both teams scored once. Chris Rotelli pushed the Virginia lead to 5-1 less than three minutes after halftime, but freshman Bryant Will answered for North Carolina with 1:33 to play in the quarter.

A stout Virginia defense refused to allow the Tar Heels to gain momentum and gave up just one goal-Kyle Bell’s third of the year-in the final quarter. Bell’s goal made the score 7-3, but North Carolina’s chances to draw closer evaporated as Rotelli, Yevoli and Gill all scored in a 49-second span midway through the quarter to close the scoring in convincing fashion.

The Tar Heels never mounted a serious offensive attack against Johnson and the close defense of Mark Koontz, Ned Bowen and Brett Hughes. Koontz snared a game-high seven ground balls, while causing six turnovers. Bowen tied his career high with five ground balls, while Hughes shut down freshman Jed Prossner, holding him to just four shots. For the game, the North Carolina attack of Prossner, Mike McCall and Steven Will failed to connect on any of their six shots and had eight turnovers.

North Carolina’s three goals is a record low for the ACC Tournament and are its fewest since a 4-3 loss to Johns Hopkins in 1984.

The Cavaliers face Duke, 8-7 overtime winners over Maryland in the other semifinal game, Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet, Fox Sports South and the Sunshine Network.

Virginia defeated Duke 15-10 last Saturday in Charlottesville in their regular season match-up. Friday’s win is the Cavaliers’ eighth in a row as they improve to 9-1 this season. Duke, winners of last season’s ACC title, is 6-5 this spring.

Virginia has won three of the last four ACC titles, while Duke won the other.

Post Game Quotes

Virginia Head Coach Dom Starsia:
“This was a terrific win for us. I think that the chore for the top seed coming back here, especially the way our schedule is set up, since we just played these two teams, is particularly difficult. To come back and beat a quality North Carolina team in a game, I was very, verypleased. I think our kids played hard. I thought we let it get away from us a little bit offensively, I don’t think we were as careful with the ball as we could have been at times, I don’t think our shooting was great, but overall we always played hard and defensively, I thought we could just defend them all day.”

“I’m at a loss to explain why it happened. It’s certainly not a characteristic of this team, a thing like that begins to take on a life of its own. If these guys believe that we’re in the game in the second half and we have a chance, I think we’re going to play hard in the fourth quarter. That’s certainly been the time when we played our best lacrosse since the first day.”

“On the defensive end, I think we all elevated ourselves individually and then when Mark (Koontz) came back out to play I think it just lifted the whole group. And of course, when the goalie plays you’re going to play good defense, and (Tillman Johnson) was on his game all night.”

Virginia Sophomore Joe Yevoli:
“I just felt that we had a great day. We were talking, we were moving well with the ball, and I just thought that defensively we were excellent. Everybody was hustling. Of course, we loved being able to have Mark Koontz out there. To see him able to play made everybody feel great.”

“If you start thinking that you have the game locked up, then things go wrong, we’d be on our heels and then they can have a run. It takes pressure off of us when the defense plays really well, especially when Tillman (Johnson) plays well. He was unbelievable, I’ve never seen him play like that. It helps the offense out a lot.”

North Carolina Head Coach John Haus:
“We obviously did not play as well as we need to in order to beat a team like Virginia. I take full responsibility for our team not performing well. It was a lack of execution on the offensive end and some breakdowns on the defensive end.”

On Virginia:
“They are a great team. We did not execute in order to beat them, but they are a really good team. They did a heck of a job tonight.”

North Carolina Goalkeeper Paul Spellman:
“We had a decent defensive effort tonight. I think early on started chasing people instead of really playing solid defense, which worked against us.”

Score by QuarterNorth Carolina	0-1-1-1-3Virginia	4-0-1-5-10att-3089

StatisticsShotsNC 32UVa 43

ClearingNC 21 of 24UVa 27 of 32

FaceoffsNC 10UVa 6

Ground ballsNC 38UVa 53

PenaltiesNC 2-1:30UVa 3-3:00

Extra-Man ScoringNC 1 of 3UVa 0 of 2

Goalie SummaryNC- Paul Spellman 14 saves, 10 goals, 60 mins.

UVa- Tillman Johnson 13 saves, 3 goals, 58 mins., George Greczmiel 1 save, 0 goals, 2 mins.

NC scoringGoals- Kyle Bell, Tim Gosier, Bryant Will.

Assists- Andrew Lucas.

UVa scoringGoals- Joe Yevoli 3, Conor Gill 2, Chris Rotelli 2, A.J. Shannon 2, John Christmas.

Assists- John Christmas, Conor Gill, Billy Glading, A.J. Shannon.

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