Virginia’s Mark Cockerton led UVa. (10-5) with four goals and three assists to help push UVa past the No. 6 North Carolina Tar Heels (10-4) in the inaugural ACC Showcase Saturday night, 13-11, inside PPL Park.
The win is UVa’s 50th all-time over North Carolina, which serves as the most all-time for the Cavaliers against any opponent.
“That was a very important victory for us,” said Virginia men’s lacrosse head coach dom starsia. “It’s been a tough grind for us the past couple of weeks, and we needed this one badly. We may have been a playoff team even if we didn’t win tonight, but now we have a little more confidence and momentum going forward after getting the win. As the game was going on not knowing whether or not we were going to win, I thought to myself a moral victory is going to be of no consequence right now. We need to win this game. I’m very glad we found a way to do it.”
UVa grabbed a quick 2-0 lead to start the game on goals by James Pannell and Tyler German. Pannell assisted German’s goal at the 10:20 mark in the first quarter.
North Carolina bounced back with goals by R.G. Keenan and Pat Foster to tie the game, 2-2. Foster’s goal at 6:39 in the first quarter came off a ground ball when a save ricocheted off UVa goalie Matt Barrett into the UNC attackman’s crosse.
Pannell put UVa back up by a goal, 3-2, when Blake Riley found the attackman in transition at the 5:37 mark in the first period.
Ryan Tucker put UVa on the board again with a goal with 2:37 left before the break, cutting the Cavalier deficit to three goals, 8-5.
Jordan Smith was charged with a slash for North Carolina with 45 seconds left in the second quarter and UVa retained possession to start the third quarter without a faceoff. Rob Emery scored the extra-man goal to start the third quarter on a Greg Coholan pass five seconds into the third frame.
“That was huge,” said Cockerton. “It was probably the quickest goal we’ve scored all season coming out of the half and it just got us going. First half we didn’t play our best game, but we came out in the second half strong and we built off of that momentum.”
Emery’s goal continued a 5-1 UVa run that carried over from the second quarter. Cockerton scored twice during the run and found Tucker with 7:31 left in the third quarter to cap the run, tying the game at 9-9.
North Carolina went on a 2-1 run to end the third period and regained the lead, 11-10. T.J. Kemp capped the streak on a Foster pass at 1:54. The Tar Heels never found nylon for the remainder of the evening.
Cockerton found Pannell with 11:07 left in the game, tying the contest at 11-11. Then Cockerton assisted his third goal when he hit German with 6:05 left in the game. For good measure Cockerotn capped the win with an empty-net goal with 1:07 left, sealing the victory.
Mick Parks went 15-of-27 from the faceoff X, picking up a team-high eight ground balls and scored one goal. Chris LaPierre picked up five ground balls to give him 254 for his UVa career. The 254 ground balls places the midfielder No. 11 all-time in the UVa annals. Cockerton recorded his 22nd career hat trick and tied his career high for points for the fourth time. Pannell notched his seventh career hat trick.
UVa enjoys a bye week before the NCAA Tournament commences. The NCAA Selection Show airs Sunday, May 4 live on ESPNU at 9 p.m. First-round games are played at home sites May 10-11. New in 2014 will be two play-in games to be played on May 7 on TBD campus sites. The play-in games will feature the four lowest-ranked automatic qualifying berth teams.