Virginia and North Carolina Tangle in Semfinals of ACC Men's Lacrosse Tournament
April 19, 2002
Charlottesville, Va. –
#1 Virginia (8-1/3-0 ACC) vs. #7 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-3/1-2 ACC)
April 19, 2002
The Series vs. the Tar Heels
Virginia leads the all-time series with North Carolina by a 37-23 margin. The Cavaliers’ 37 wins over the Tar Heels make the Heels third on UVa’s list of most beaten opponents (UVa has defeated Duke 45 times and Washington & Lee 42 times).
This is the eighth time the teams have clashed in the ACC Tournament. North Carolina won the first five tourney meetings, but the Cavaliers have rebounded to win the last two. The last times the teams met in the ACC Tournament occurred in the 2000 tourney in College Park, Md. The Cavaliers gained a 17-16 double overtime win in the semifinals en route to capturing their second title in a row.
Virginia gained a narrow 10-9 meeting two weeks ago in Chapel Hill in the season’s first meeting in a game that went down to the wire. The Cavaliers built a 10-6 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Tar Heels battled back to get to within one. They had a chance to tie in the closing seconds but Steven Will’s from in close was wide as time expired.
This year’s regular season contest was the third nailbiter in a row between the two teams. Of the last three games, two have been decided by one goal and another by two. Virginia won both one-goal games, while the Tar Heels took the two-goal decision.
The series goes all the way back to two meetings in 1938 (when the teams split the contests). After a brief hiatus in the series in the ’50s and ’60s, the teams have met every season since 1964.
Overall the Cavaliers have won seven of the last eight meetings vs. the Tar Heels dating back to 1997.
Cavaliers Complete Unblemished ACC Record
Virginia finished with an undefeated record (3-0) in ACC play this season for the second time in the last three seasons. This is the sixth time since 1989 that Virginia has been undefeated in league play.
Virginia as ACC Tournament’s Top Seed
This is the seventh time the Cavaliers have been the top seed for the ACC Tournament. However, being the tournament’s top seed hasn’t been very favorable for the Cavaliers. The first four times UVa was the top seed (1990-93-94-95), UVa failed to win the title.
Things have changed a bit since then however. The Cavaliers have won the ACC championship the last two times they have been the top seed (1997, 2000).
Being the top seed in the tournament has been a mixed bag for everybody. Only six top seeds have won the ACC Tournament since 1989.
Five Cavaliers Named All-ACC
Virginia has a league-high five players named to this season’s 11-man All-ACC squad. This is the second time in the last three seasons that five Cavaliers have been named to the all-conference team.
Leading the way are two Cavaliers named for the third time-A Conor Gill and D Mark Koontz. M Chris Rotelli was selected for the second year in a row, while A John Christmas and G Tillman Johnson were both named for the first time.
A two-time first-team All-American, Gill has excelled this season doing what he does best-distributing the ball. He leads the ACC in assists with an average of 2.56 apg and ranks third nationally. He has 127 assists in his career and ranks fifth in ACC history and fourth in UVa history. His 196 career points are eighth in Virginia history.
Rotelli is has molded himself into one of the nation’s top middies. A workhorse on both ends of the field, he is sixth in the ACC in goals this spring with an average of 1.56 gpg and ranks 10th in the league in points. He won ACC Player of the Week honors for his play in the Cavaliers’ win over Maryland earlier this season.
Koontz is the first defenseman in Virginia history to be a three-time All-ACC performer and just the fourth in league history. Assigned to the opposition’s top attackman, he was having the best season of his career according to head coach Dom Starsia, and shut down some of the nation’s top offensive threats. He has scooped up 29 ground balls this season despite playing with a protective cast on his wrist. He suffered a torn ACL in UVa’s last game against Duke and is expected to be out of action this weekend.
Christmas is first freshman named All-ACC since UVa’s Michael Watson eight years ago. One of the top rookies in the country, Christmas is the team’s leading scorer with 30 points and ranks second in the conference. He is also second in the league in goals behind fellow freshman, teammate Joe Yevoli. He was named national player of the week following his 4-goal, 3-assist performance over then #1 Johns Hopkins last month.
Johnson is UVa’s first All-ACC goalie since 1994 (James Ireland) after becoming the first goalie ever to win the ACC Rookie of the Year award last season. He has been instrumental in the team’s current seven-game winning streak. During that time he has recorded a save percentage of almost 60 percent and is allowing just over eight goals per game. He was named ACC Player of the Week earlier this season for his play in wins over Notre Dame and Towson. He held Notre Dame to just five goals and limited Towson to half their season average.