North Carolina (8-4)
In-Game Blog: Virginia at North Carolina
Five Things We Learned
1. Virginia won the EMO battle. The Cavaliers were 3-of-5 on man-up chances, including 2-of-2 before the break, while UNC didn't benefit from one until the final quarter. The Tar Heels were 0-of-2 before the break, but the one that hurt the most bridged the halftime gap. UNC drew a one-minute penalty at the end of the first half and began the second half with 54 seconds of advantage. All the Tar Heels could muster, though, was one weak shot and a turnover before Virginia took it down to the other end.
2. Steele Stanwick was unmatched. The senior Tewaaraton winner tallied three goals and four assists in a dominating effort. He effortlessly led the Cavalier attack from X, where he often delivered spot-on passes when he wasn't coming around the crease to endanger goalkeeper Steve Rastivo. UNC's young defense simply had no match for him, and he took over the game.
3. Bad practice plagued the Tar Heels. Cocah Joe Breschi said UNC didn't practice with the same edge it had in the previous two weeks, which produced three consecutive wins. Their play mirrored that practice, as UNC didn't compete as hard as it did in games against Maryland and Johns Hopkins. Seniors Marcus Holman and Thomas Wood were both quiet in this game, but their leadership will be critical as postseason play approaches.
4. Chad Tutton came up big. The freshman scored three goals, all in the fourth quarter as UNC had its back against the wall. His third goal was a behind-the-back highlight play where he had to save a bad pass. UNC didn't get any goals from Joey Sankey, so instead another freshman took his place in producing offense. While Virginia's defense stood tight all game and didn't give many open looks, UNC still got five goals from freshmen, including two from Jimmy Bitter.
5. Virginia should sit pretty comfortably atop the polls for the rest of the season. The Cavaliers play Duke at home next week, but they should be able to handle the Blue Devils if they play like they did today. Stanwick stood out when he needed to, Rob Fortunato made big-time saves and Ryan Benincasa played one of the nation's premier faceoff guys to a near draw. Virginia is talented in every facet of the game and dominated a UNC team that beat Johns Hopkins rather easily last week.
15:00 R.G. Keenan and Ryan Benincasa start off in the faceoff X. Virginia wins the faceoff, but turns it over on the sideline shortly after. UNC will have the first real chance on the attack here.
14:00 Jimmy Bitter tries to weave through a host of Cavalier defenders, and it results in a turnover. Virginia good on the clear and will set up its attack with Chris Bocklet at the X.
12:30 UVa turnover as Bocklet overthrows Stanwick. Bocklet tripped when he caught the pass and tried to make a play from the ground. UNC clears.
11:30 Another early turnover here as Marcus Holman throws it away under pressure. UVa clears as Stanwick draws a foul in the corner of the field.
10:24 GOAL VIRGINIA Owen Van Arsdale puts in a beautiful shot. He caught a pass from Stanwick on the right side of the field at a short angle. He took one hesitation step then fired a shot just inside the right post. 1-0 Virginia
10:15 Keenan takes the next faceoff and UNC has a chance to answer here.
9:45 Chad Tutton puts up UNC's first shot, but it goes wide left of the goal. UNC was there to win the second chance.
8:40 GOAL VIRGINIA Chris LaPierre scores a transition goal for the Cavaliers following a Duncan Hutchins' turnover. There was also a penalty on the play, but it's going to be waived off. 2-0 Virginia
Timeout North Carolina
Neither team has been very sharp thus far, but UVa has capitalized on the chances its had, once on a nice shot by Van Arsdale and another in transition. UNC only has one shot on goal and hasn't been able to hold onto the ball. The Tar Heels need to generate some longer possessions and get one on the board before the Cavaliers create a gap too wide to overcome.
8:30 The ensuing faceoff rolls into UNC's defensive end, but Tyler Morton is there for the groundball and the clear. Quick change for the Tar Heels, bringing in Jack McBride in exchange for Morton's long pole.
7:30 A pair of Jimmy Bitter shots here, both of which are wide. UNC gets there both times to retain possession. The Tar Heels are a lot more aggressive on this attack than we've seen so far.
7:04 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA The third time's the charm for Bitter. McBride delivered him a pass just about exactly where he was the first two shots of the possession. Good possession for UNC all around. 2-1 Virginia
7:00 Another faceoff goes UNC's way, and now the Tar Heels have a chance to tie.
6:00 Bitter with some nifty moves to split Virginia's double team. He fired a shot that went wide, but picked up a slashing penalty along the way. One minute EMO here for UNC.
5:30 UNC puts up two shots, one that was blocked and one that was saved. Virginia successfully clears and has an impending illegal body check that will be called on Joey Sankey.
5:00 Thirty-second EMO for Virginia as Sankey heads to the penalty box.
4:32 GOAL VIRGINIA The Cavaliers pick up the EMO goal. Chris Bocklet nets this one off an assist from Matt White. 3-1 Virginia
4:15 Keenan takes the faceoff, and he has now won four of five. He takes it all the way down and fires a wide shot, but UNC still in possession.
4:10 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Bitter once again looking at the net, and once again he gets it to go. Big momentum saving goal for the Tar Heels. 3-2 Virginia
3:30 Stanwick makes two UNC defenders fall and puts a rocket on goal from close range, but it clangs off the crossbar and spits back out onto the field. Virginia picks up the groundball and has another crack. There's that flash of brilliance Stanwick gives you a few times each game, it just didn't go this time.
2:45 UNC blocks the next UVa shot and successfully clears. Duncan Hutchins comes into the game at midfield to start the UNC attack.
2:15 Ryan Creighton puts a shot on goal, but it's blocked. On the other end, UNC goalkeeper Steven Rastivo saves another Virginia shot. UNC clears and sets up its attack on the other side with Bitter at X.
:30 North Carolina holding for the last shot. Marcus Holman is handling the ball along the edge of the box.
:05 Jimmy Dunster fires a shot on goal, but Rob Fortunato comes up big for the stop. That does it for the quarter.
So far, this game is living up to the hype. It started off sloppy, but both teams picked it up as time went on. Virginia has the lead off of a few really nice goals, including the highlight of the game so far on Owen Van Arsdale's rip from the short angle. R.G. Keenan is 4-of-6 on faceoffs, and that will be something to watch as the game develops. UNC's only offense has come from Jimmy Bitter, who has not been hesitant to look for shots.
15:00 Faceoff win for UNC to start the quarter as Keenan kicks it back to Mark Staines. Bitter once again doing most of the ball handling for the Tar Heels.
13:45 Ryan Creighton throws an errant pass that rolls out of bounds. UVa fails on the clear, though, and Staines moves the ball into the box for UNC.
12:45 Virginia forces a turnover as Thomas Wood gets knocked down near the goal.
12:35 GOAL VIRGINIA William Scroggs scores in transition following Wood's turnover. Big goal for the Cavaliers, taking away a tying opportunity for UNC and instead putting another one in the net. 4-2 Virginia
12:20 UNC with another faceoff win as Virginia faults on the try.
11:15 UVa generates a beautiful opportunity as Colin Briggs delivers a pass to wide open Matt White by the net. White went to put it in, but the ball fell out of his stick and UNC was able to scoop up the groundball. Clear good for the Tar Heels.
10:00 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Bitter drew the Virginia defense to the edge of the box, then he shot a pass Marcus Holman standing near the goal. Holman easily finished the goal. 4-3 Virginia
9:45 Virginia gets its third faceoff of the day and has a chance to extend its lead once more. Stanwick has been a little bit quiet here, so I expect him to make some plays soon. He's playing at X now, where he's put a few beautiful passes in Cavalier sticks the past few possessions.
9:00 UNC forces a turnover, but Ryan Kilpatrick makes a bad pass that results in a turnover. Clear no good, and Virginia has another chance here.
8:00 Mark Cockerton attempts to do it all himself, running from side-to-side before he attemps a pass, but Rastivo knocks the pass out of the air and forces a turnover. Clear good for the Tar Heels and Jack McBride races onto the field for this possession.
7:00 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Jimmy Dunster gets the equalizer off an assist by Thomas Wood. It was a rare good look that this stingy UVa defense has allowed, but the midfielder capitalizes. Tied 4-4
6:50 Keenan wins the faceoff and sets up a close shot by Marcus Holman, but it hits the pipe and deflects out of bounds. UVa will have a clear attempt here.
6:30 Almost a huge play for the Tar Heels, as Holman intercepts a pass in UVa defensive third on the clear attempt. He couldn't field it easily, though, and Virginia recovered before he could get an open shot off. Fortunato made the save and pushed the ball forward.
5:51 GOAL VIRGINIA Hey, there's Stanwick. The senior scores an unassisted goal to give the lead back to the Cavaliers. 5-4 Virginia
5:45 Ryan Benincasa wins another faceoff for Virginia, which moves easily moves the ball into the attacking third.
Good timing with that timeout, as this came was moving around at a frenetic pace. High level lacrosse being played here. Virginia's defense has been stiff all game, but the Tar Heels have found a few cracks and have managed to put up four goals. On the other end, UVa is getting much better looks. The score is still close now, but UNC needs to apply a little more pressure as the game goes on. Stanwick just picked up his first goal of the game, and if he get's going, this lead could grow quickly.
5:00 Virginia moves it around beautifully to set up a great look for Rob Emery, but Rastivo dipped to his left to make the save. UNC turns it over on the clear and Virginia gets another shot off quickly, but Rastivo comes up big again. Two huge saves on promising UVa possessions.
4:00 North Carolina slows it down a bit after that sequence on the offensive end.
3:45 Bitter with a bad pass as he comes around the side of the goal. After a scrum near midfield, the Cavaliers picked up the groundball and moved the ball into the attacking third.
3:00 Stanwick comes around the side of the goal and puts a tough shot on goal, but Rastivo makes another big save. Briggs was there to scoop up the groundball and keep possession with the Cavaliers.
2:35 Rastivo with yet another big save on a Stanwick shot, but Tyler Morton was called for pushing on the attempt. He heads to the penalty box and UVa will have a 30-second EMO.
2:22 GOAL VIRGINIA The Cavaliers take advantage of the EMO very quickly. Rob Emery took a pass from Van Arsdale and finished off the open shot. 6-4 Virginia
2:00 Benincasa comes up with another faceoff win, and UVa has now won five to UNC's seven. That's a big stat for Virginia, as UNC is much more vulnerable when R.G. Keenan is being neutralized.
1:30 Van Arsdale scoops up a groundball following a sloppy Virginia pass and coach Starsia calls a timeout.
1:00 Not the cleanest possession for UVa so far as Bocklet nearly turns it over going to goal. Cockerton wins the groundball and tries to go to goal with it, but Rastivo makes the easy save.
:30 North Carolina clears ahead and calls a timeout, probably planning for a last-second shot.
:06 Looks like that's going to be illegal contact to the head by Scott McWilliams following his bulldozing of the screen. It's unneccessary roughness, and that's a one-minute penalty. Sankey will most likely just hold the ball out to close the half, so UNC will open with possession in the third quarter and 54 seconds remaining on the EMO.
Halftime - Virginia 6, North Carolina 4
This game has been fantastic so far. Great defense and a few really beautiful goals scored. I get the feeling UVa has been in control, but the Tar Heels are hanging in there. Rastivo has eight saves so far, and a few of those came in a flurry that looked to be givens for Virginia. The faceoff battle is fairly even at 5-to-7, and UNC really relies on R.G. Keenan to generate some offense. UNC is 0-for-2 on EMOs so far, but if it can nab a goal to start the half, that could really turn some momentum heading into the final 30 minutes. I'm also looking for Stanwick to come out after the break. He's had two really nice looks, one that hit the crossbar and one that was saved, that he normally gets to go. If he gets more looks like that, UVa will be in good shape.
14:00 UNC starts off in the EMO, but can't muster a good look and Virginia survives.
13:00 Stanwick comes around the net for a look on goal, but the ball comes out and UNC successfully clears.
11:30 Chris Clements picks up a groundball and moves it ahead to set up a Taylor Michel shot. Shot is saved and UNC moves up the field. Two near turnovers, but Holman recovers and passes out to Ryan Creighton to save possession and, somehow, get a good clear.
10:00 Bitter still with his eyes set on goal. He puts a shot on net, but Fortunato easily picks it out of the air. Virginia now in the attacking third as Colin Briggs tries to create from the top of the box.
9:20 Rob Emery fires a shot looking for the hat trick, but Rastivo knocks it up and scoops it out of the air to make another save.
9:00 Matt Lovejoy forces a turnover on UNC's transition attack. Virginia turns it over on a bad pass on the other end, so now UNC will try to get the first goal of the half.
8:00 Chad Tutton sets up a close-range shot for Joey Sankey, but the hard shot goes wide. UNC still on the attack.
7:30 Holman takes a rip on goal, but Fortunato with a big stop. Harry Prevas is called for holding going after the rebound, so now UNC is a man up for 30 seconds.
7:00 Nicky Galasso, who pretty much solely plays on UNC's EMOs now, makes a bad pass that rolls across the midfield line. Virginia gains possession and kills the man-up chance.
6:00 GOAL VIRGINIA Chris Bocklet puts an absolute rip on goal that goes just above Rastivo's shoulder. Colin Briggs set up the shot from 10 yards out. Bocklet got it to go although he was knocked to the ground while shooting. 7-4 Virginia
5:30 An extremely long faceoff, where the ball was batted around the ground for about 15 seconds, ends up in a win for Virginia.
5:15 GOAL VIRGINIA Matt Kugler adds another tally for Virginia's 4-0 run. Stanwick set him up by drawing the defense to his side and delivering a pass right on the money. 8-4 Virginia
Timeout North Carolina
UNC is 0-4 on EMOs, and those are starting to become a big story as Virginia is on a 4-0 run following the tie at 4 a piece. The Cavaliers have been crisp this quarter, both defensively and on the attack. Both goals were cleanly executed and left Rastivo with little to work with. R.G. Keenan needs to rediscover his faceoff control he had in the first quarter to bring UNC back in this game.
5:10 Benincasa takes the faceoff on a run and sets up a wide-open Chris Bocklet shot. Rastivo got a piece of it and the ball sailed over the crossbar. Bocklet gets another look shortly after, but Rastivo saves that one cleanly. Clear good for UNC.
4:20 Bitter fires a shot high and wide, and Virginia beat Joey Sankey to the sideline.
4:01 GOAL VIRGINIA Steele Stanwick puts one past Rastivo while posted up by the right post. He was decked late and hard by Logan Corey after the shot. Corey will get a one-minute unnecssary roughness penalty for the hit, so Virginia will start with an uncontested faceoff for this EMO. 9-4 Virginia
3:00 Virginia has really cranked up the pressure this quarter, sending two defenders to the ball on every clear attempt. UNC has been hesitant to attack it, and that has resulted in a number of bad, long passes.
2:30 There's another turnover, and Virginia clears on a long pass up the field. UNC is in the danger zone here.
1:49 GOAL VIRGINIA Stanwick swings the ball over to Van Arsdale, who scored while coming around the right post. 10-4 Virginia
1:32 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Keenan wins a faceoff and throws the ball ahead quickly. Marcus Holman finished off the quick attack with a close-range shot from the right side. Assist to Joey Sankey. 10-5 Virginia
1:25 After being dominated in the faceoff circle in the first quarter, Benincasa has outperformed Keenan since then. This most recent win evens the battle at eight a piece.
:00 Mark Cockerton rips a shot on goal as time expires, but Rastivo stood strong and made the stop. That will take us into the final quarter, Virginia with a five-goal lead.
UNC is certainly in the danger zone as we head into the final 15 minutes of the game. Virginia has just been the much better team since halftime, offensively and defensively. Even play at the faceoff X has been huge for the Cavaliers. Stanwick is controlling the game on the attack, either creating great looks for himself or delivering strong passes that generate open chances for his teammates. Rastivo has been good in goal for UNC, but UVa continues to bombard the net and he's starting to wear down a bit. The Tar Heels need a few quick goals to start this quarter if they have any chance of climbing back into this one.
15:00 Mark McNeil fires a quick shot off the faceoff win for UNC, but it goes high. UNC gets there to retain possession.
14:20 Bitter draws Fortunato out of the goal and takes a shot on the open net, but it hit the right pipe and bounced back to a Virginia defender. UVa clears.
12:45 Stanwick scoops up the ball from the ground and somehow saves possession for Virginia on a loose ball.
12:37 GOAL VIRGINIA Stanwick got the ball back after saving it then hit Bocklet for an open look at goal. Bocklet was able to finish off Stanwick's fourth assist. 11-5 Virginia
12:30 Logan Corey draws his second one-minute penalty for illegal contact. UVa will get an EMO on the unreleasable penalty.
11:40 GOAL VIRGINIA Rastivo made a save on a ball that popped high in the air. Mark Cockerton snuck in to field the groundball, moved out of traffic and hit Matt White standing unguarded by the crease. White finished it off. 12-5 Virginia
11:00 UNC takes the faceoff and sets up its attack as Dunster handles the ball near the top of the box.
10:20 A Pat Foster shot is saved and Virginia moves ahead into its attack, this game fully in the Cavaliers' control.
8:45 Colin Briggs called for pushing and he'll spend 30 seconds in the penalty box after a UVa turnover.
8:25 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Davey Emala finishes the man-up chance off an assist by Joey Sankey. 12-6 Virginia
8:05 Virginia wins the faceoff, but Matt Lovejoy turns it over by throwing it out of bounds. UNC back with the ball and Chad Tutton is trying to create some offense.
7:39 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Tutton's first shot went wide, but he got it back and this time found the back of the net on a rip from straight ahead. 12-7 Virginia
7:30 Keenan takes another faceoff, so UNC has another chance on the attack. Holman comes onto the field and takes a pass while sprinting ahead.
7:06 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Holman moves the ball over to Tutton, who makes a couple moves before scoring another goal on a rip from the right side. 12-8 Virginia
6:50 Keenan with another faceoff win. Sankey turns it over though as he is challenged by Scott McWilliams. Could have been a big opportunity for UNC. Virginia moves it forward and calls timeout to settle it down.
6:11 GOAL VIRGINIA The Cavaliers strike quickly coming out of the timeout. Ryan Tucker dodged straight through the UNC defense toward the right side of the net, where he was able to sneak a past under the stick of Rastivo. 13-8 Virginia
6:00 Benincasa wins the faceoff, and Virginia significantly slows the ball down.
4:00 Greg McBride called for holding while trying to defend UVa's Chris Bocklet, so the Cavaliers go a man up here.
3:20 A UVa turnover results in a UNC shot on the other end, but Fortunato makes the save and returns possession to the Cavaliers.
2:48 GOAL VIRGINIA Stanwick puts another one on the board off an assist by Matt White. Rastivo was out of the goal on a 10-man ride to give Virginia the easy chance once it broke the pressure.
2:21 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA UNC won't win this game, but Chad Tutton just put the goal of the game on the board. He received a pass from Sankey, moved across the goalkeeper's face then scored on a shot from behind his head. That's his third today, which equals his career high. 14-9 Virginia
2:00 UNC wins the faceoff and Sankey gets a good look, but Fortunato made the save. Sankey just hasn't had it this game like he has recently. The freshman is being shut down by an experienced and talented defensive unit.
:36 GOAL NORTH CAROLINA Ryan Creighton scores a goal off an assist by Marcus Holman. Creighton caught the pass on the run toward the crease and never stopped moving before putting it in the back of the net. 14-10 Virginia
:29 Virginia takes the faceoff as UNC is called for a foul on the play. That should do it.
:07 GOAL VIRGINIA Rastivo once again comes out of the goal, and Pat Harbeson decides to put another tally on the board for the Cavaliers. 15-10 Virginia
Final - Virginia 15, North Carolina 10
We're here live at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C., where No. 1 Virginia is in town to face No. 9 North Carolina.
If you asked anyone two weeks ago, you probably wouldn't have gotten too much excitement about today's game. But after UNC topped previously unbeaten Johns Hopkins a week ago, this game suddenly became a big-time matchup. UNC has won three games in a row, including a one-point victory against Maryland. The Tar Heels are now 8-3 and 1-1 in conference, with the other conference loss coming against Duke.
Virginia is 9-1 and 1-0 in ACC, of course with its only loss coming at the hands of Johns Hopkins. You've got to think that Virginia matches up better with UNC than Hopkins did, though. Steele Stanwick, last year's Tewaaraton trophy winner, should create a lot of good opportunities against a young UNC defense that has been up and down all year. The faceoff will be critical, as R.G. Keenan can turn a game in the favor of the Tar Heels.
It's a beautiful day here in Chapel Hill, and the fans are out this holiday weekend. It's already a lively atmosphere and will certainly pick up when the teams hit the field. Follow along here for live updates and some analysis for this top-10 matchup.