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No. 6 Virginia picks up key ACC victory over No. 3 North Carolina in high-scoring affair

Huge first and third quarters propel Virginia to victory.

UNC Athletics

With 4:23 left in the third quarter, William Perry gave North Carolina a 10-9 lead over the visiting Virginia Cavaliers. Third year face-off specialist Petey LaSalla would go on to win 14-straight at the X over 18:24 of game time, helping the No. 6 Hoos build an 18-14 lead with :59 remaining. He started the fourth quarter a perfect 9-0 over the Carolina duo of Andrew Tyeryar and Zac Tucci, and LaSalla finished the game winning 26-of-38 (68%).

This is the third time LaSalla has won 20+ face-offs, making him the first player to do so in Virginia lacrosse history. He also added a goal and an assist in the win.

North Carolina got two goals over the final minute of play, but the Hoos came away with a huge 18-16 victory on the road. The win avenged a 16-13 loss to these same Tar Heels in mid-March and pushed Virginia’s season record to 9-2 (2-2 ACC).

Matt Moore was electric for the Cavaliers, scoring two goals and dishing out six assists. In the first matchup between the two teams, Carolina defender Will Bowen held Moore to just two goals (and two assists) on 15 shots. The Virginia offense has looked much crisper, moving the ball around and forcing opposing defenses to slide. This has opened up more opportunities for Moore’s teammates, and he’s taking advantage. “All I did was the easy thing, which was pass it to them,” Moore said via Zoom after the game. “They did the hard part of finishing the ball.”

Virginia assisted 13 of the 18 goals scored (72%), and both Ian Laviano and Jeff Conner scored four goals apiece in the win. Conner’s four goals set a new career high for the junior midfielder. Peter Garno and Payton Cormier each added two goals to the effort, and LaSalla, Connor Shellenberger, Xander Dickson, and Dox Aitken each scored once.

Alex Rode was solid in cage, getting 15 saves and saving 48% of the 31 shots UNC got on goal.

Things got off to a hot start with 12 combined first-quarter goals. Chris Gray (three goals, one assist) opened the scoring for the home team as North Carolina took a 2-0 goal. The two teams traded scores before a three-goal streak by the Hoos put Virginia on top 4-3. Virginia finished the first quarter with back-to-back goals that gave them a 7-5 lead.

As exciting as the first quarter was, the second quarter was a drag. North Carolina kept Virginia off the scoreboard over the 15-minute stanza as they were outshot (12-6), out-ground-balled (10-3), and outscored (2-0) by the Tar Heels to send things into the break knotted at 7-7.

The two teams traded goals, with neither holding more than a two-goal lead until Virginia rattled off four straight to end the third to turn a 10-9 deficit into a 13-10 advantage. North Carolina actually outscored Virginia in the fourth quarter, but trading goals when down three wasn’t a winning formula for the Tar Heels.

Holding on to a 16-13 lead with 4:12 left on the clock and one second left on the shot clock, Shellenberger rolled the crease and deposited the score:

Gray responded to keep a little pressure on the Hoos, but Moore closed out the Virginia scoring with an open-net goal:

North Carolina added two garbage goals, but it was too little, too late as Virginia would leave Chapel Hill with a huge win. Next up, the Hoos have a huge chance in conference play as they host now-No. 1 Duke. The Blue Devils will likely slip in the rankings after they lost to Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon. Game time is set for 7pm on Thursday, April 15.