CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers (7-5, 0-3 ACC) fell to the No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels (6-4, 1-1 ACC) on Sunday night at Klöckner Stadium, 15-12. It was UVA’s first loss of the season that was by more than one goal and the Cavaliers trailed by as many as seven goals, 10-3, early in the third quarter.
“We just ran into a very hot faceoff specialist in Stephen Kelly,” said Virginia men’s lacrosse head coach Lars Tiffany. “Obviously winning all but one faceoff in the first half, UNC just maintained possession and then I give [Brian] Balkam a ton of credit in the goal and the number of saves he made in that first half (nine). They were really good in those two specialty areas. They’re a talented team, but we just couldn’t get the ball and our shots in the first half got some good looks, but Balkam stonewalled them. I give Kelly and Balkam a ton of credit for allowing the rest of their teammates to build that seven-goal lead.
“We are defined by a team that never quits. No lead is safe, whether we have the lead, as you’ve seen we’ve given up some leads this year, or we’re crawling back in. I believe this because of the system and because of the style we play. I wasn’t surprised we made that comeback and scored those six goals to get to 11-8. We had the momentum and our man-down defense didn’t step up today. We didn’t play well on man down and Carolina really took advantage of that.”
After Joe French put UVA up by one goal, 1-0, at the 12:44 mark in the first quarter, UNC reeled off a 9-1 run to give the Tar Heels a 9-2 lead at halftime. During the first half Kelly won 11-of-12 faceoffs to set the table for the UNC offense.
Zed Williams found nylon for UVA to start the scoring in the third quarter. Williams’ goal started a 6-2 Cavalier run that made it a three-goal game after three quarters, 11-8, advantage UNC. Ryan Conrad scored twice during the quarter, while Michael Kraus, Jason Murphy and Mike D’Amario also scored.
UNC started the fourth quarter on a 3-1 run, giving the Tar Heels a comfortable 14-9 lead with 5:33 left. Williams scored twice and Conrad once as UVA finished the game on a 3-1 spurt in the losing effort.
Conrad and Williams each led UVA with three goals and one assist. Griffin Thompson made 15 saves in the goal for UVA after seeing 57 shots.
UVA concludes its home schedule on Tuesday when Robert Morris comes to Klöckner Stadium. The game will be webcast on ACC Network Extra. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.
(Note: Zed Williams, arrived late as he traveled directly near his home in Silver Creek, New York via an anonymous UVA lacrosse parent’s plane at 5 pm. There is a 10-day mourning period after the loss of a loved one in Williams’s Native American culture. Williams had lost his father)