The Defending Champions are headed back to the National Title game! The No. 4 ranked Virginia Men’s lacrosse team punched their ticket after a roller coaster matchup with the No. 1 ranked UNC Tar Heels, by a final score of 12-11. Despite the chilly weather in Connecticut, the crowd of 13,707 inside Rentschler Field was electric as the national powerhouses traded blows.
During the first quarter, the Wahoos got off to a slow start, trailing 3-3. The Hoos took control in the second quarter, winning 10 faceoffs in a row, resulting in 6-0 run and a 9-4 lead heading into the half. Five different Cavaliers scored during this run, Matt Moore, Charlie Bertrand, Payton Cormier, Jared Connors, and Peter Garno, illustrating the versatility of Head Coach Lars Tiffany’s offense.
In the second half, the game took a turn when UNC went on a hot streak of their own, scoring 4-1 goals. Virginia’s Connor Shellenberger responded with two goals, and veteran player Ian Laviano scored the 12th goal, bringing the score to 12-8 at the end of the third quarter. The Cavs didn’t score at all in the fourth quarter, relying on their defense which has steadily improved throughout the season, managing to hold off the rapidly closing Tar Heels, who scored 3 goals in the last quarter. Goaltender Alex Rode was instrumental in keeping the Hoos alive with 15 saves.
In order to claim the National Title, the Hoos will have to get past the Maryland Terrapins, a team that is undefeated this season and smashed No. 2 ranked Duke in the semifinals, 14-5. This will be an emotional contest after a controversial matchup in the 2019 Tournament where the ball hit the post and was counted in, giving the Wahoos the win they needed to go on and eventually win the National Championship. Virginia’s defense will need to neutralize Maryland power player Jared Bernhardt, who had 5 goals and 2 assists in the semifinals. The game will be on Monday, May 31st at 1 pm, broadcasted in ESPN2.