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Virginia lacrosse tops #11 North Carolina to stay undefeated

Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore were incredible while Cole Kastner limited Chris Gray.

The #2 Virginia Cavaliers men’s lacrosse team beat the #11 North Carolina Tar Heels 15-11 to move to 6-0 on the season and 2-0 in ACC play.

Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore led the way offensively as Shellenberger finished with four goals and three assists while Moore scored a hat-trick as well to go with two assists. Those two were lights out all game and displayed the near-unstoppability of their combined two-headed monster on attack. Grouped with Payton Cormier — who had three goals and an assist of his own against UNC — that trio is unlike any other in college lacrosse.

Defensively, the 6’7” Cole Kastner had perhaps the best outing of his career to date. Holding UNC’s Chris Gray to just one goal and three assists after coming into the game averaging 6.8 points per game.

The first half fit the mold of Virginia-UNC games of recent years as either team went on its own five-goal run. The two sides combined for a ridiculous 50 first half shots as the score sat at 10-9, Carolina after thirty minutes.

Griffin Schutz opened the scoring on a right-side alley drive before Jeff Conner scored 36 seconds later in his return to put Virginia up by two early. Carolina responded immediately, scoring five straight goals in fewer than four minutes behind five straight face-off wins.

The Wahoo defense slowed down the Tar Heels after that streak, but the score sat at 5-2 until Shellenberger found the back of the net on a step-down shot off a Moore feed at the 4:54 mark. Following a rare near five minute span of zero scores, UNC led 5-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The ‘Hoos burst out of the gates in the second, though, as Shellenberger scored his second before Payton Cormier got on the board and then Moore scored his first two goals. Moore’s second put Virginia up 7-5 with 9:06 remaining in the half.

The Heels responded in turn with a 5-2 run to close the half. A goal with 33 seconds left after UVA gifted UNC a two-man advantage put Carolina up by one, 10-9 after the first two quarters.

The game of runs continued into the third quarter, but in the Wahoos’ favor. In fact, Virginia held North Carolina scoreless for the first 20:38 of gameplay while Shellenberger and Moore took control of the game. The two of them contributed to four of UVA’s five third quarter tallies.

That meant that the ‘Hoos led 14-10 at the end of the third quarter. While some sloppy play throughout the fourth meant that UNC pulled back within three goals, that was as close as the Heels got as Shellenberger’s fourth of the day with 5:23 remaining gave Virginia the breathing room it needed.

Now, UVA will head to Washington D.C. next Saturday for a face-off with the #1 team in the country, the Maryland Terrapins in what is a rematch of last season’s National Championship game and a contest between the two undisputed best teams in college lacrosse this season.