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April 9, 2004

Charlottesville, Va. –

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Game 5

#15 Virginia at. #5 North Carolina
April 10, 2004 * 1 pm
Fetzer Field * Chapel Hill, NC.

Game Info

The Records:
Virginia: 3-5/0-1 ACC
North Carolina: 5-3/1-1 ACC

The Rankings: (USILA/Inside Lacrosse)
Virginia: 15/12
North Carolina: 5/6

The Series vs. North Carolina:
Overall: 40-23
Home: 19-12
Away: 18-9
Neutral: 2-2
Current Streak: W4
Biggest UVa Win: 17, 1950 (17-0)
Biggest UM Win: 11, 1987 (18-7)
UVa Goals: 682
UNC Goals: 562
Starsia (UVa) vs. UNC: 14-4

Radio Coverage: You can listen to Jed Williams and Doug Tarring call all the action of Saturday’s game by following this link WINA AM 1070 radio broadcast of men’s lacrosse.

The Series vs. the Tar Heels
Virginia leads the all-time series with North Carolina by a 40-23 margin. The Cavaliers’ 40 wins make the Tar Heels third on UVa’s list of most beaten opponents (UVa has defeated Duke 47 times and Washington & Lee 42 times). 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.

The Cavaliers have had remarkable success on the Tar Heels’ home field, winning 18 of 27 meetings in Chapel Hill through the years. UVa has won five of the last six games in Chapel Hill, including a narrow 10-9 triumph two years ago in the most recent game at Fetzer Field.

The Cavaliers defeated the Tar Heels twice last season-10-7 during the regular season in Charlottesville and 13-12 in overtime in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament hosted by UVa.

Overall Virginia has won the last four meetings and 10 of the last 11 going back to 1997. The Tar Heels’ lone win in this span was a 7-5 win at Kl?ckner Stadium three years ago.

The Cavaliers gun for their fifth win in a row over the Tar Heels which would be their first five-game winning streak since 1997-2000.The teams have locked up in several nailbiters recently, including last season’s overtime decision won by the Cavaliers in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. In the last game in Chapel Hill two years ago, Virginia led the whole way but had to hold on for a 10-9 win that was decided only when Steve Will’s open shot at the buzzer was wide. Four of the last six games have been decided by two goals or less.

North Carolina’s last three wins (2 in 1996, 2001) have been by a combined five goals.

UNC, UVa Share Several Ties
Saturday’s combatants share several ties that make this an intriguing match-up and might cause some familial conflict.

Virginia junior was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Year two years ago and led the conference with 26 assists last spring. He is currently tied for 25th in school history with 117 career points (72g, 45a).

His father, Joe, Sr., was an All-American attackman at North Carolina in 1977-78. The elder Yevoli led the Tar Heels both years in scoring (51, 38 points respectively) and assists (21, 25) and was the team leader in goals in 1977 (30).

He didn’t have his best performances vs. UVa, however. His Tar Heel clubs lost both match-ups to the Cavaliers. In the 1977 meeting he had a goal and an assist as UVa won 15-7. The following year he scored a single goal in UVa’s 9-8 overtime win.

The younger Yevoli led the Cavaliers in goals in both games vs. UNC as a rookie in 2002-two in the regular season and three in the ACC Tournament. He scored twice during last season’s contest and tallied two goals and an assist in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.

Current UNC coach John Haus, was a two-time All-American defenseman at UNC in the early 80s. He learned the nuances of defense play from his father, Bert, who was a standout D-man at UVa, lettering from 1957-59.

Starsia’s Cavaliers vs. Higher Ranked Opponents
The Cavaliers moved back into the rankings following the win over Towson three weeks ago after seeing their streak of 150 consecutive rankings end on March 15. They moved up to #10 after the win over then top-ranked Johns Hopkins, but fell five spots after losing to #1 Maryland last Saturday.

North Carolina has been ranked as high as fourth this season and currently sits fifth. The Tar Heels are 5-3, but their three losses have all been by one goal.

Since the Cavaliers are typically found at or near the top of the polls, it’s not unusual they are the higher ranked team. However, on the rare occasions when the Cavaliers are the lower ranked squad they have had pretty good success springing an upset as shown by their 21-21 record under since 1993.

Last season the Cavaliers spent time at #1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 and played only two games as the lower ranked squad with resounding success.

They gained a big early season win over #1 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome in early March and concluded the season with a 9-7 win over top-ranked Johns Hopkins in the national finals.

This season UVa is 2-3 vs. higher ranked teams and had their two-game underdog winning streak snapped by Maryland the last time out.

This is the first time in 10 years (a span of 15 meetings) that the Tar Heels have been the higher ranked squad. Virginia has won the last two when being ranked lower (1993, ’94), but is 4-9 since 1971 when ranked lower than the Tar Heels.

Hughes Named National Player of the Week
Defenseman was named Inside Lacrosse’s Division I Player of the Week two weeks ago for his play in the Cavaliers’ upset of then #1 Johns Hopkins.In a “must win” game against the top-ranked Blue Jays, Hughes completely shutout All-American attackman Kyle Barrie. Barrie, who failed to even take a shot, did not record any assists either and saw his 31-game scoring streak end.

Hughes and goalie anchored a relatively inexperienced defense that held Johns Hopkins to just 32 shots (15 below their average) and eight goals (six below their average).

Hughes has a history of shutting out top attackmen. Early last season he held Syracuse’s Michael Powell scoreless in a Cavalier win at the Dome.

Offensive Woes Continue
Virginia was held to just two goals by Maryland last week, its lowest total in 20 years (since an 11-2 loss to North Carolina in the 1984 NCAA Tournament).

Typically one of the nation’s most potent offenses, the Cavaliers have been outscored 73-67 this season and are averaging just 8.38 goals per game.

The offensive output is UVa’s worst in nearly four decades. The 1966 team averaged just 4.7 gpg and had been outscored by 33 goals at a similar stage of the season as this year.

Gilbert’s Wait Worth It
Sophomore was one of UVa’s top recruits coming in last season. An accomplished attackman in high school where he earned All-America status, he was moved to the midfield as a freshman last year and appeared in 16 games with a goal and eight assists.

He notched his only goal in the opener against Drexel, but had to wait more than a year to get his second.

But the wait ended up being worth it.

With the Virginia offense struggling a bit, head coach moved Gilbert into more of an attack position where he can better use his passing skills and speed to beat his man on the dodge.

Gilbert got his first goal of the year with less than 10 minutes to go in regulation to end Johns Hopkins’ three-goal run in action two weeks ago. The tally brought the Cavaliers to within a goal at 8-7. goal with 2:20 remaining sent the game into overtime.

Following a brilliant save by , the Cavaliers called timeout to set up a play. The play called for Gilbert to get isolated behind the cage on a short stick and if he could beat his man, go to the goal. That’s exactly what Gilbert did. He got a step on Benson Erwin and rammed a shot past Scott Smith, setting off a wild Cavalier victory celebration.

Gilbert, who assisted on a goal, finished with a career-high three points.He scored one of UVa’s two goals last week vs. Maryland, the first time he scored in back-to-back games.

Something’s Gotta Give
These two teams come into Saturday’s game on a collision course in one regard-extra man opportunities.

The Tar Heels lead the nation in man-up goals, converting on 52.9 percent (9×17) of their opportunities.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, have been very stingy when playing at a disadvantage. They are second nationally in man-down defense, stopping 90.2 percent (37×41) of their opponents’ chances.

Maryland scored one extra-man goal in last weekend’s 11-2 win, the first EMO goal allowed by the Cavaliers in 22 attempts going back to the Syracuse game.

Overall Virginia has given up just one extra-man goal in the last 26 attempts over the last five games. The Cavaliers also have not given up more than one EMO goal in any game this season.

The ability to kill penalties was a contributing factor to the Cavaliers’ 9-8 overtime win over Johns Hopkins two weeks ago. The Blue Jays failed to convert on six extra-man opportunities as the Cavaliers eked out the win.

Prior to that the Cavaliers held Towson to no goals in six attempts and blanked Princeton on eight attempts.

Ward Sees Scoring Streak End
Attackman was one of the nation’s top freshmen last season after scoring 26 goals and assisting on 20 others. He and Patrick Walsh from Notre Dame were the only “20-20” rookies in 2003.

He got off to a hot start this season but saw his 13-game streak with a goal end last Saturday against Maryland. Nonetheless he remains the only Cavalier with more than 10 goals this season (15) and he’s tied with for the team lead with nine assists.

Ward has been UVa’s top goal scorer five times this season after leading just twice all last spring. He tallied two goals vs. Drexel and Towson, and three against Air Force, Syracuse and Princeton. He has also led or shared the team lead in assists four times.

Misfiring on Scoring Opportunities
Virginia has not been a good shooting team this season, connecting on just 21.2 percent of its shots. Last season the Cavaliers scored on 27.1 percent of their shots and were above 30 percent the year before.

In the season opening 15-4 win over Drexel, Virginia shot 32.6 percent (15×46), but fell off considerably during the recent four-game losing streak.

In their loss to Air Force the Cavaliers were successful 18.8 percent of the time (6×32), and dropped off even more the following afternoon against Denver by shooting 17.1 percent (7×41).

Virginia shot fairly well against Syracuse, making 12 of 40 shots (.300), but lost for the first time in almost two years when shooting at least 30 percent-a span of nine games going back to an ACC Tournament loss to Duke.

The subpar shooting returned in the 8-7 loss to Princeton as UVa shot a season-low 15.9 percent (7×44), the worst shooting since 2001 (vs. North Carolina, 15.6 percent).

The productivity perked up a bit in the recent win over Towson when UVa made good on 21.4 percent (9×42) of its shots, a low percentage to be sure but enough to down the Tigers.

Virginia didn’t shoot very well in the upset of then #1 Johns Hopkins, but the Cavaliers managed to shoot enough and have some go in. Overall they shot 20.0 percent (9×45), the third game in a row below 22 percent.

The subpar shooting continued with a last week against Maryland, with one of the worst performances of all time. The Cavaliers shot just 7.7 percent (2×26).

In the Cavaliers’ three wins this season, they are shooting 24.8 percent, while in their five losses they are shooting 18.6 percent.

Since 2000 UVa is 1-5 when shooting less than 20 percent and 25-5 when shooting better than 30 percent.

Ground Balls Key to Victory
One of the goals of the Virginia coaching staff every game is winning the ground ball battle. This season the Cavaliers are averaging 38.4 ground balls per game, down 10.0 per game from last season.

Virginia has been “out ground balled” six times this season (Air Force, Denver, Princeton, Towson, Johns Hopkins, Maryland), losing four. Last season Virginia was “out ground balled” only three times, but won each time.

The performance against Princeton several weeks ago was the Cavaliers’ worst in quite some time. They had just 27 ground balls and lost the battle by 20. The 20-GB differential is UVa’s biggest deficit since Princeton had a 57-34 margin in 2002, while the 27 total ground balls is UVa’s lowest based on available records dating back to 1970.

In fact, since 1970 three of the four lowest GB totals have occurred this season. The chart below shows every game since then when the Cavaliers had 30 or fewer GBs.

Opponent, Season-GBs
1. Princeton, 2004-27
2. Navy, 1988-29
2. Johns Hopkins, 2004-29
4. Maryland, 2004-30

The Cavaliers have won 44 of their last 50 games dating back to 1998 when snapping up at least 50 ground balls.

Playing from Behind
Virginia has rarely had the lead in any game since posting a 15-4 victory over Drexel in the season opener.

Beginning with the trip to Denver and the subsequent four-game losing streak the Cavaliers have frequently played from behind. In fact, the Cavaliers trailed by more than 40 minutes in all three games leading up to the win over Towson that ended the losing skid. Even in that game, however, UVa led for a third of what Towson did (10:22 vs. 33:29).

Building on the momentum of the Towson win, the Cavaliers held then #1 Johns Hopkins in check in springing a 9-8 overtime upset. The game featured seven ties and four lead changes as neither team was able to build a lead of more than two goals as Virginia managed to keep the game close. The Blue Jays held the lead for just 15:09, the Cavaliers’ second-lowest trailing time of the year.

Last week Maryland jumped to an early lead and was never threatened on the way to an 11-2 win. The Terps held the lead for all but the opening 3:06.

Last season Virginia had a lead of 40+ minutes in 12 of 17 games, including all four NCAA Tournament games and held the lead for less than 25 minutes only three times (including both losses).

This season Virginia has held the lead for fewer than 25 minutes in each of the last seven games (but still managed to win two).

Fans Get Their Money’s Worth
One of Virginia’s characteristics this season is playing close games; five games have been decided by one or two goals with the Cavaliers coming out on top twice.

The Cavaliers’ season got off to a rough start as they dropped two games in Denver by a combined three goals. They had their losing streak reach four following an 8-7 loss to Princeton.

Things picked up recently due to consecutive 9-8 overtime wins over Towson and Johns Hopkins.

UVa’s 3-2 record in close games (which we’ll say are one- or two-goal games) is approaching last year’s 4-2 mark. Two years ago the Cavaliers were 5-3 in close games.

The last time the Cavaliers lost as many as three close games was 2001 when they were 1-3. UVa hasn’t lost four close games in a season since 1996 (2-4).

Under , the Cavaliers have had middling success in close games going 30-30 since 1993.

Johnson Becomes UVa’s All-Time Saves Leader
Preseason Player of the Year set a school record with 205 saves last season in leading Virginia to the national championship. After recording a career-low three saves (he played just 30 minutes) in an NCAA Tourney first round win over Mount St. Mary’s, Johnson dominated the rest of the playoffs. He turned aside 16 shots in a quarterfinal win over Georgetown and electrified the record crowds at the final four with a career-high tying 18 saves against Maryland in the semis and 14 saves in the finals vs. Johns Hopkins.

The senior from Annapolis moved past Rodney Rullman earlier this season to become UVa’s all-time career saves leader. He currently has 620 saves; Rullman stopped 553 shots during his career from 1972-75.

Turnovers Hurt Cavaliers’ Cause
One of the factors that contributed to UVa’s disappointing performance in Colorado earlier in the season was a significant number of turnovers.

In the loss to Air Force the Cavaliers committed 35 turnovers, including many that were unforced. Several turnovers occurred in clearing situations as UVa was successful on just 20 of 35 attempts (.571), its worst clearing performance since a 1988 loss to North Carolina (.559).

Virginia had fewer turnovers in a loss to Denver the following day, but many were quick turnovers that prevented the Cavaliers from sustaining any offense. The Pioneers controlled the ball for most of the second quarter, outscoring UVa 3-1 to take a 5-2 halftime lead. Virginia had four turnovers on just 11 short possessions in the quarter. Late in the contest Virginia turned the ball over six times in 11 fourth quarter possessions and lost by two (9-7).

The Cavaliers ended the four-game losing streak with a win over Towson several weeks ago due in part to cutting down on turnovers. They had fewer (24 vs. 20) and rallied from a 5-2 halftime deficit to gain a 9-8 overtime win.

Overall the Cavaliers average 20.4 turnovers per game this season, but just 18.0 per game in wins.

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