UVa. lax advances to national-title game

The No. 7 seeded Virginia Cavaliers (12-5) rode hat tricks from Chris Bocklet, Mark Cockerton and Steele Stanwick en route to an NCAA semifinal round victory over the No. 6 seeded Denver Pioneers (15-3), 14-8, on Saturday afternoon in front of 45,039 fans inside M&T Bank Stadium. UVa advances to the championship game for the first time since 2006, when the Cavaliers won it all, and for the ninth time in program history.

Virginia will play the unseeded Maryland Terrapins, who defeated the No. 5 seed Duke Blue Devils in the second semifinal game, 9-4. The game will be the first NCAA finals between two ACC teams since 1986 (UNC over UVa in OT, 10-9). Faceoff on Championship Monday is set for 3:30 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPN in HD.

“It’s been a great ride for us,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. “I give our guys a lot of credit. If you talk about how you like to script a first half, it probably wouldn’t have been much different than what you saw on the field. We were going to try to attack Denver from behind and use an attackman on the first midfield spot to take it behind the goal. It takes a little bit of time to get that organized offensively. Shooting it well and taking advantage of the opportunities would be key. I thought we put some pressure on the young kid in goal and took advantage of the opportunities we did create. Our guys are doing a great job.”

UVa goalie Adam Ghitelman registered his 49th career win between the pipes, tying him for No. 3 all-time in NCAA Division I history with Air Force’s Ken Wessels (1984-87).

Virginia opened the game on a 4-1 run, starting with Stanwick’s goal at 11:55. Bocklet extended his nation’s longest goal-scoring streak to 35 games nearly a minute later, giving UVa a 2-0 lead. After Denver’s Andrew Lay put the Pioneers on the board at 9:10, UVa received goals from Nick O’Reilly and Stanwick, ending the run at 7:01 in the first quarter.

Denver cut its deficit to two, 4-2, via a Jeremy Noble goal at the 5:25 mark, but that would be the last goal the Pioneers would score over a 20:57 period as UVa tallied five straight goals and headed into the intermission with a 9-2 lead.

Five different Cavaliers scored during the run, including Rob Emery, Matt White, Bocklet, Matt Kugler and Cockerton.

DU’s Mark Matthews halted the Virginia run to start the third quarter, cutting the UVa lead down to six goals, 9-3. The Cavaliers countered with another run, this time scoring four straight goals to take a 10-goal advantage, 13-3. Stanwick scored a goal and assisted Bocklet on another. Cockerton and John Haldy also scored in the run, which ended at the 8:45 mark in the third quarter.

Denver finished the game on a 5-1 run, but it wasn’t enough as UVa picked up the triumph.

Virginia outshot Denver (32-26), picked up more ground balls (27-19) and won the faceoff battle (13-11). Ghitelman won the saves battle in goal for UVa (10-8).

UVA Basketball Fans!

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