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An Offensive Anchor – by Raj Sagar

Nearly all sports hinge on the ability of one team to score points, while the other strives to deny them. While being successful on both sides of the ball is imperative to having a balanced team, a go-to scorer is often a team’s most dangerous offensive weapon as that player often dictates the entire defense’s approach. A gifted scorer must be accounted for at all times, and in Brian Carroll, Virginia lacrosse has had one of the game’s biggest threats for the past four years.

“He’s one of my favorite guys to get the ball to,” said sophomore Steele Stanwick. “He is really an incredible shooter who has a knack for scoring. He makes other guys on the team better passers by moving to open space, and giving guys good angles to get him the ball. His shot is incredibly fundamental, and everyone should try to learn to shoot the ball the way he does.”

At Gilman School in Baltimore, Md., Carroll began honing his shot during an illustrious career as a member of the Greyhound lacrosse team. As a junior, Carroll poured in 29 goals before adding 32 his senior year. His ability to distribute also shined as Carroll added 34 assists over the two seasons. Both years Carroll garnered the Baltimore Sun City Player of the Year awards.

When it was time to decide which university to take his talents to, Carroll narrowed his options down to Virginia, Syracuse and Princeton.
“I chose UVa because I felt it was the best school for me to come and compete for a championship,” recalls Carroll. “When I visited, it felt like a perfect storm of great athletics, academics and a great support system of people around you.”

For Carroll, Virginia had one other pull factor Carroll appears hesitant to admit to. Months before Brian committed to play for the Cavaliers, twin brother Kevin had done likewise.

“I told myself going into the process that I wouldn’t just base my decision on where Kevin went,” said Carroll. “But in hindsight, it couldn’t have worked out better-I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to continue playing with Kevin.”

When he arrived on the scene as a Cavalier, Carroll wasted no time in asserting himself as a threat to score. In his first career game against Drexel, Carroll notched a goal and an assist. Contributing to his desire to improve and develop, Carroll’s memories of his first collegiate contest are more humbling than nostalgic.

“Even though I had a decent game against Drexel as a freshman, it was more of a sobering experience than anything else,” said Carroll. “Following that 2006 team taught us a lot about dedication and hard work. We learned right from the get-go that nothing would be handed to us, and we would have to work day-in and day-out to improve as a team.”

Perhaps equally important as putting the ball in the net, are the moments in which big-time scorers repeatedly beat the keeper in big-time situations.
During his sophomore season, with the clock winding down in overtime against perennial rival Syracuse, Carroll lifted Virginia to victory with late-game heroics.

“Scoring the game-winning goal against Syracuse in Ravens Stadium was a big moment for me,” said Carroll. “Being from Baltimore, it was great to play in front of the big crowd, and to have a lot of friends and family there.”

Predictably though, the consummate and humble teammate, Carroll deflected credit for the goal, and instead turned attention elsewhere.
“Shamel [Bratton] made a great dive and drew the defense,” said Carroll. “All I had to do was put it in.”

Carroll also added an overtime goal that year to beat Johns Hopkins with 7.7 seconds left in the game. His second overtime goal that season made him the first Cavalier to achieve such a feat.

After a stellar regular season, Carroll led Virginia into the ACC tournament poised for victory. Once they arrived in the title game, Carroll was sure to waste no opportunities: he shot three times and scored on all three attempts. His 28 goals that season were fifth in the nation among midfielders.

Carroll followed his sophomore season with a remarkable junior effort. Topping his previous mark, his 29 goals stood tied for seventh in the country by midfielders. His 32.2 percent shooting allowed him to make the All-ACC team for the second consecutive season-something no Virginia middie has done in the past six years.

Carroll’s ascension to the top of the program now has the younger players looking to him for guidance.

“He’s not the most vocal guy, but he really does lead by example,” said Stanwick. “He’s a great role model on and off the field. He does all the little things, and that makes him seem under noticed. All the little things are what make him a great player.”

Now donning the all-important “C” on his jersey, Virginia’s No. 4 all-time leading scorer (84) among the program’s midfielders looks to commands attention from more than just opposing defenses.

“Brian has been in a key role since the day he set foot here on Grounds,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. “He is one of the most efficient, fundamentally sound lacrosse players I have ever been around. If you were to write a book about “textbook” shooting form, Brian Carroll’s shot would get a chapter in there. When a player of his caliber and his demeanor says something the whole group listens. He is someone that is respected not only because of his contributions, but how he carries himself as a leader and a person.”

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