The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers (9-2, 3-0 ACC) clinched the No. 1 seed in the 2019 ACC Tournament with an 11-10 triumph over the No. 18 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-4, 1-1 ACC) on Saturday afternoon at Klöckner Stadium.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers (9-2, 3-0 ACC) clinched the No. 1 seed in the 2019 ACC Tournament with an 11-10 triumph over the No. 18 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-4, 1-1 ACC) on Saturday afternoon at Klöckner Stadium. The victory is the eighth in a row for UVA, giving the Cavaliers their first eight-game winning streak since starting the 2012 season 8-0.
The Cavaliers will be the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2010. The 2010 season was also the last time UVA won the ACC Tournament. UVA will at least own a share of its 25th regular season ACC title and first since sharing the 2012 regular season title with Duke.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Dox Aitken put UVA on the board quickly, scoring on a Matt Moore helper 2:04 into the game. However, the Cavaliers squandered some offensive opportunities and were thwarted by the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Week, UNC goalie Caton Johnson. In the first quarter alone Johnson recorded six saves as UVA rattled off 16 shots and picked up 17 ground balls.
Offensively, UNC worked quickly after trailing 1-0 early. Alex Trippi scored unassisted to start a 3-0 UNC run that staked the Tar Heels with a 3-1 lead. Nicky Solomon scored back-to-back goals to cap the streak, the second coming at 7:32 in the second quarter. After being held scoreless for 23:32, UVA finally dented the scoreboard again with an unassisted goal by Michael Kraus with 4:24 left in the second quarter. Kraus’ goal cut UNC’s lead down to one goal, 3-2.
UNC scored two more goals to extend its lead up to three, 5-2, after Solomon capped his hat-trick and a 2-0 Tar Heel run with 2:31 left before the intermission. Kraus inched UVA closer with an unassisted goal at 1:45, sending the Cavaliers into the break trailing 5-3. Kraus’ second goal of the game started a 5-1 Cavalier run. Kraus finished off the spurt with his fourth goal of the game at 2:18 in the third quarter, giving UVA a 7-6 lead. It was UVA’s first lead since opening the game with a 1-0 advantage.
The Tar Heels scored the first three goals of the fourth quarter to take a 9-7 lead. Matt Gavin scored on a Brian Cameron helper with 11:16 left to play, finishing off the streak. UVA responded going on a 4-1 run to close the game. Moore scored twice, bookends to Kraus’ fifth goal of the game. After Timmy Kelly tied the contest for UNC at 6:35 with an extra-man goal, Aitken powered through the game-winning score with 1:34 left to play.
Petey LaSalla was stellar at the faceoff X, winning 17-of-23 draws, including 10-of-13 in the second half. While UNC’s Johnson made some spectacular saves throughout the afternoon, UVA’s Alex Rode was steady and finished with a game-high 14 saves.
— Virginia Men’s Lacrosse (@UVAMensLax) April 6, 2019
UVA STAT LEADERS
• A Michael Kraus
5 goals, 1 assists
• A Matt Moore
2 goals, 1 assist
• M Dox Aitken
2 goals, 3 GBs
• M Petey LaSalla
17-of-23 FOs, 6 GBs
• GK Alex Rode
14 saves, 1 GB
• UVA’s eight-game winning streak is its longest since opening the 2012 season 8-0.
• UVA’s win over UNC was the first against the Tar Heels at Klöckner Stadium since 2011 when UVA also won by a score of 11-10, but it was in overtime.
• After losing 18-straight ACC games, the Cavaliers have won four of their last five league games.
• UVA’s 52 all-time wins against North Carolina are the most by the Cavaliers against any of their opponents.
• Michael Kraus extends his streak of games with at least one point to 43, which ranked No. 4 in the nation entering the weekend among active streaks.
• With two goals, Dox Aitken has 93 career goals and is two away from passing Brian Carroll (94) and Pete Eldredge (94) for No. 1 all-time at UVA for career goals by a midfielder.
• Aitken now has 118 career points, which passes Pete Eldredge (1969-72) for No. 4 all-time among UVA midfielders.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
“EveryACC game, as we’ve proven, is a battle. Each ACC game is filled with talented coaches and super talented players. We were fortunate that we won a lot of faceoffs. Petey LaSalla and the wings, Ryan Conrad and Jared Conners, really kept giving us the ball back in a game where we ran into a hot goalie with UNC’S No. 25 Caton Johnson. They had a good offense. I thought UNC did a really good job of exposing some openings against our defense that we haven’t had open in the past. It felt like we couldn’t play much defense, and thankfully because of Petey LaSalla we didn’t have to that much. At the other end our goalie really stepped up. Alex Rode has been in a battle all year with Patrick Burkinshaw for the starting spot, and he was huge in the first half, when UNC kept punching shots against us.” – Lars Tiffany
Virginia concludes ACC play on Sat., April 13 at No. 6 Duke. Faceoff is set for noon and the game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.