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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VAGarrett Billings scored four first-half goals to give Virginia the early lead as the Cavaliers gained an 11-8 win over Maryland tonight in the semifinals of the ACC Men’s Lacrosse Tournament before a crowd of 3507 at Klckner Stadium.

With the win the third-seeded Cavaliers improve to 12-2 this season. They look to become only the second No. 3 seed to win the league championship as they face Duke in the title game Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Duke posted a convincing 17-6 win over North Carolina in the first semifinal game tonight to advance to the finals.

Billings had his most productive game in nearly six weeks and scored as many goals as he had in the previous four games combined. He scored on four of his first six shots of the game to help Virginia set the tempo in the first half.

“Garrett’s been a little nicked up like the other guys have been also, so he’s been struggling for a couple of weeks,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. “I talked to him a week ago and I think he knew that we needed him. When they put the shortstick on him, they were saying essentially, we can cover you.’

“I think any athlete worth his salt is going to react to that situation and Garrett stepped up and got us off to a great start.

“This is a team that is important to start well against because they want to control the tempo and the fact that we got off to a good start gave the game some flow and that really helped us.”

While Billings did the damage in the first half, Ben Rubeor notched three of his four goals in the final 30 minutes to help the Cavaliers extend its 3-goal halftime lead (6-3) to as many as five. Rubeor’s back-to-back goals to start the fourth quarter scoring put UVa ahead 11-6 with 8:32 remaining in the game.

Maryland scored its final two goals 18 seconds apart with just over a minute to play but could not get any closer. Virginia controlled the ball for most of the game’s final eight minutes and was content to maintain possession with the clock running.

Maryland’s Max Ritz forced the game’s only tie with a goal at the 14:26 mark of the second quarter, but Billings scored twice and Jack Riley once as Virginia took a 6-3 lead at halftime.

Shamel Bratton, who had his first multigoal game in a month, scored the first of his two goals early in the second half on a blistering shot that goalie Brian Phipps certainly never saw to push Virginia ahead 7-4.

Ritz scored an extra-man goal and was followed by Grant Catalino at the 3:05 mark of the third period as Maryland trimmed UVa’s lead to two at 7-5. But Bratton scored his second of the game and Rubeor his first of the half as Virginia moved to a 9-5 advantage. Bryn Holmes scored off the faceoff following Rubeor’s to cut into Virginia’s lead but the Terrapins were never able to get closer than three goals the rest of the way.

Unlike the season’s first match-up when the Cavaliers lost 15 of 23 faceoffs, tonight they were much improved by taking 12 of 23. Freshman Garett Ince continued his impressive play of late by winning 12 of the 20 draws he took.

Bud Petit made his fourth straight start in goal and made eight saves to highlight a stout defensive effort. Ryan Nizolek held Travis Reed, who scored three goals and had two assists in the team’s first meeting in March, without a goal for only the third time all season.

“I thought we played very well defensively throughout the game. I’m sorry we gave up a couple there at the very end,” Starsia said. “That’s a good Maryland team and I think overall (it was) probably our best effort of the season against a quality opponent. I thought it was our best 60 minutes. It was not flawless but pretty good overall.”

Virginia 3-3-3-211 record: 12-2
Maryland 2-1-3-28 record: 8-5

Scoring (G-A) V: Garrett Billings 4-0, Ben Rubeor 4-0, Shamel Bratton 2-0, Jack Riley 1-0, Peter Lamade 0-3, Danny Glading 0-2. M: Grant Catalino 2-1, Max Ritz 2-0, Dan Groot 1-0, Bryn Holmes 1-0, Jeff Reynolds 1-0, Ryan Young 1-0, Travis Reed 0-2, Tony Mendes 0-1, Adam Sear 0-1.

Goalie SummaryV: Bud Petit 60 mins., 11 saves, 13 goals allowed. M: Jason Carter 33:18 mins., 6 saves, 8 goals allowed; Brian Phipps 26:42, 5 saves, 5 goals allowed.

Shots: V41, M34
Ground Balls: V39, M34
Clearing: V19x22, M14x16
Faceoffs: V12, M11
Penalties: V5-4:00, M3-2:30
EMO: V0x3, M2x3

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