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April 22, 2004

Charlottesville, Va. –

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Game 11

ACC Tournament Semifinals

#14 Virginia at #4 North Carolina
April 23, 2004 * 8:30 pm
Fetzer Field * Chapel Hill, NC.

Game Info

The Records:
Virginia: 4-6/1-2 ACC
North Carolina: 7-3/2-1 ACC

The Rankings: (USILA/Inside Lacrosse)
Virginia: 14/14
North Carolina: 4/6

The Series vs. North Carolina:
Overall: 40-24
Home: 19-12
Away: 18-10
Neutral: 2-2
Current Streak: W4
Biggest UVa Win: 17, 1950 (17-0)
Biggest UNC Win: 11, 1987 (18-7)
UVa Goals: 691
UNC Goals: 573
Starsia (UVa) vs. UNC: 14-5

Radio Coverage: You can listen to Jed Williams and Myron Ripley 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 40-24 margin. The Cavaliers’ 40 wins make the Tar Heels third on UVa’s list of most beaten opponents (UVa has defeated Duke 48 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.

This is the 10th 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 four, including a 13-12 overtime win in the rain in last season’s semifinals at UVa.

Virginia has faced the Tar Heels more than any other school in the conference tournament. After losing the first two semifinal meetings, the Cavaliers have rebounded to win the last four.

Three of Virginia’s four ACC Tournament titles (1997, 2000, ’03) have started with semifinal wins over the Tar Heels.

The Cavaliers have had remarkable success on the Tar Heels’ home field, winning 18 of 28 meetings in Chapel Hill through the years.

North Carolina ended UVa’s four-game series winning streak two weeks ago with an 11-9 win at Fetzer Field. The Tar Heels used a five-goal run to turn a 7-6 third quarter deficit into a 11-7 advantage before the Cavaliers scored two late goals to make things interesting at the end.

The teams have locked up in several nailbiters recently, including the last two matchups. Five of the last seven contests going back to 2000 have been decided by one or two goals.

North Carolina’s last four wins (2 in 1996, 2001, ’03) have been by a combined seven goals.

Virginia as the Tourney’s Third Seed
This is only the third time Virginia has been the third seed in the ACC Tournament and the first time since 1996, when the Cavaliers downed Maryland 13-9 before losing to North Carolina in the finals 13-11.

The Cavaliers need to defy history if they hope to capture a second consecutive ACC title. The third seed is the only seed that has never won the ACC Tournament. The 1995 Duke team was the tourney’s fourth seed and is the only non-1 or 2 seed to win the championship.

The third seed also owns the fewest wins in tournament history (4). Maryland’s 7-6 win over Duke in the 2000 tournament represents the third seed’s most recent win.

Schools Share Several Ties
These two teams 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 24th in school history with 121 career points (75g, 46a).

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. He didn’t score in this season’s first meeting.

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

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

The Tar Heels have led the nation in man-up offense for much of the season and are currently fourth, converting on 48.0 percent (12×25) of their opportunities.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, have been very stingy when playing at a disadvantage. They are fifth nationally in man-down defense, stopping 86.5 percent (45×52) of their opponents’ chances.

Extra-man goals were a deciding factor in the first meeting between the two schools earlier this season. The Tar Heels converted three of eight EMO chances and gained an 11-9 win. In a decisive five-goal run that erased a 7-6 UVa lead in the third quarter, the Tar Heels scored two EMO goals.

Conversely, UVa failed to score in three EMO chances.

Revamped Attack Leads vs. Duke
With the offense struggling throughout the season, the coaching staff has tinkered with various combinations and changes in an effort to add more punch.

Undoubtedly the most prominent change was to work into the rotation at attack and shift to the midfield. The experiment began in midseason before Gilbert made his first start alongside and last weekend against Duke.

Against the Blue Devils the revamped attack tallied eight of the Cavaliers’ 13 goals for its most productive effort of the season. Yevoli responded with three goals to end a two-game goal-less drought and score his most goals in six games. Gilbert notched a career-high three goals to equal his total coming into the game. Ward, who scored a career-high five goals against North Carolina the game before, scored twice.

It was the first time all season all three attackmen scored at least two goals.

For his part, Christmas scored once to run his streak to two games with a goal. While that doesn’t seem like much, it’s the first time in more than a month that he scored in back-to-back games.

Misfiring on Scoring Opportunities
Virginia has not been a good shooting team this season, connecting on just 22.9 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 failed to come close to approaching that figure throughout the heart of the spring.

During the disastrous trip to Colorado early in the season, the Cavaliers were successful 18.8 percent of the time (6×32) in a 7-6 loss to Air Force, and dropped off even more the following afternoon against Denver by shooting 17.1 percent (7×41).

Subpar shooting-and poor shot selection-were factors in the 8-7 loss to Princeton as UVa shot a then season-low 15.9 percent (7×44). Virginia’s shooting bottomed out three games later against Maryland with one of the worst performances in school history. The Cavaliers shot just 7.7 percent (2×26) in an 11-2 setback.

The Cavaliers’ accuracy perked up a bit in a win over Towson when they made good on 21.4 percent (9×42) of their shots, a low percentage to be sure but enough to down the Tigers.

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

Virginia had by far its best performance since the since the season opener the last time out against Duke. The Cavaliers scored 13 goals, second-highest total of the season, while making 32.5 percent (13×40) of their shots.

In the Cavaliers’ four wins this season, they are shooting 26.6 percent, while in their six losses they are shooting 19.8 percent.

Since 2000 UVa is 1-5 when shooting less than 20 percent and 26-5 when shooting better than 30 percent.

Starsia’s Cavaliers vs. Higher Ranked Opponents
This is the first time in more than a decade where North Carolina has been ranked higher in back-to-back games against the Cavaliers. The Tar Heels are ranked fourth this week, up from fifth the first time the teams met. Virginia, on the other hand, is 14th, down from ninth when the teams met two weeks ago. The last time North Carolina was ranked higher that the Cavaliers two games in a row was a three-game stretch in 1992-93.

This is also the 28th straight games both teams have been ranked dating back to 1987. The Tar Heels have been ranked for every match-up going back to 1973 (except for six seasons when the game was played before the first poll was taken), while the Cavaliers have been ranked for each poll but the 1987 one.

Prior to this season the Cavaliers had been ranked higher than North Carolina for 14 consecutive meetings. Virginia lost this season’s first game vs. North Carolina, snapping a two-game winning streak as the lower ranked team. Since 1971 Virginia is 4-10 when ranked lower than the Tar Heels.

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 decent success springing an upset as shown by their 22-22 record under since 1993.

Johnson Moves Up All-Time ACC List
is making his 57th consecutive start between the pipes during this weekend’s ACC Tournament semifinals vs. North Carolina.

Last year’s Goalie of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championships, Johnson became UVa’s all-time leader in saves earlier this season, passing Rodney Rullman for the top spot. Rullman stopped 553 shots from 1972-75.

Johnson now turns his attention to moving up the ACC’s all-time list. He is currently fourth and could move up a few spots, but it is unlikely he’ll move to number one as shown below.

Player, school, years…..Saves
1. Joe Kirmser, Duke, 1994-97…..843
2. Kevin O’Leary, Maryland, 1981-84…..705
3. Brian Dougherty, Maryland, 1993-96…..685
4. , UVa, 2001-pres……650

One-game Shutout Sparks Ward
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 and has been the team’s leading scorer all season. He led the team in scoring in five of the first six games before scoring just a single goal in the overtime win over Johns Hopkins. Maryland blanked him the following game ending his 13-game streak with a goal.

The scoreless streak lasted just one game as Ward got back on track in a big way two weeks ago in the first meeting vs. North Carolina as he single-handedly almost got the Cavaliers a victory. He tallied a career-high five goals and added two assists to tie his career high of seven points.

With his team trailing 11-7 late in the game, he notched two goals in a 39-second span to cut the lead. Unfortunately, Virginia wasn’t able to maintain the momentum and lost 11-9.

His five goals are the most by a Virginia attackman since torched Johns Hopkins for five scores (in a 3:08 span of the first quarter) in the 1999 national semifinals.

Ward followed that with a two-goal effort in last week’s win over Duke.The sophomore from McLean, Va., is third in the ACC in goals with an average of 2.20/game. He is also third in the league in scoring at 3.30 ppg and tied for fifth in assists (1.10/g).

Gilbert Scores in Three of Last Four
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 and appeared in 16 games with a goal and eight assists.

He began this season as a midfielder but has seen his role change over the last month as he has seen his playing time increase on attack in an effort to get his passing and offensive skills on the field more.

Gilbert scored his first goals in more than a year, including the game-winner, in UVa’s upset of top-ranked Johns Hopkins and followed that with one of UVa’s two goals against Maryland the next game.

He made his first start of the season on attack last Saturday vs. Duke and scored a career-high three goals. His three goals equalled his season total coming in.In the last four games he has scored six goals, the most by any Cavalier in that stretch besides (8 goals).

Losing the Ground Ball Battle
One of the goals of the Virginia coaching staff every game is winning the ground ball battle. This season the Cavaliers are averaging 38.5 ground balls per game, down 9.9 per game from last season.

UVa 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 last month 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.

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

Defense Remains Steady
While the Cavalier offense has struggled throughout the season, the defense has remained steady and kept the team in several games. UVa allows an average of 8.9 goals per game, despite playing the second-toughest schedule in the nation this season.

Virginia has held every opponent except high-scoring Syracuse to fewer than 12 goals. In addition, Duke’s four goals last Saturday are the fewest the Blue Devils have scored since 1992.

The Cavaliers also held Drexel to its lowest output of the season (4), while Johns Hopkins and Princeton each posted their second-lowest total of the season against UVa.

Close Defense Bottles Opposition
Virginia’s close defense unit of senior and sophomores and have quietly gone about their business in shutting down the opposition this season.

Hughes, a preseason All-American, continues to be one of the nation’s leading defenders. He shut down Johns Hopkins’ Kyle Barrie earlier this season, and prevented him from even taking a shot. Hughes has snared 29 ground balls this season, third among ACC close defensemen.

Culver held UNC’s Jed Prossner without a goal for the only time all season, while allowing him to take a season-low three shots.

Holmes is the most athletic of Virginia’s defensemen and leads ACC d-men with 37 ground balls, including a season-high of six vs. Syracuse. He has had at least four GBs on five occasions this season.

Fans Get Their Money’s Worth
One of Virginia’s characteristics this season is playing close games; six 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 following consecutive 9-8 overtime wins over Towson and Johns Hopkins.

This is the first time in three years the Cavaliers are below .500 in close games. They were 1-3 in 2001 when this year’s seniors were freshmen.

Under , the Cavaliers have had middling success in close games going 33-30 since 1993.

Hughes Earns National Accolade
Defenseman was named Inside Lacrosse’s Division I Player of the Week for his play in the Cavaliers’ upset of #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.

Poskay Leads the Way in the Midfield
Sophomore broke out of a mini-scoring drought with a season-high three goals last week vs. Duke. His three-goal effort is the best by a Cavalier middie this season.

He scored UVa’s final goal of the first half 3:12 before halftime, his first goal in three games.

Poskay scored twice late in the game for his first multigoal performance since scoring twice vs. Towson.

He is tied for fifth among ACC middies with nine goals and tied for seventh with 12 points.

Top Two are Cavaliers
Virginia features two of the leading active scorers in the ACC-Joe Yevoli and . Yevoli is the leader with 121 career points, while Christmas is tied with UNC’s Jed Prossner for second with 108.

Yevoli also leads the way in career goals (75) and assists (46). Christmas is second in goals (74) and fourth in assists (34).

Sophomore is sixth among active conference players in both goals (48) and points (79).

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