East Rutherford, N.J. - Steele Stanwick scored three goals and assisted another to lead the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (11-0, 2-0 ACC) to a 7-5 triumph over No. 2 North Carolina (10-1, 2-1 ACC) in the Konica Minolta Big City Classic on Saturday afternoon, in front of 25,710 fans inside the New Meadowlands Stadium.
"Great win for us," said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. "It was another hard fought ACC league game and all our games are like this. I thought there were two very good defensive lacrosse teams out there."
North Carolina won the battle of shots (47-35), while both squads tied ground balls (31-31) and faceoffs (8-8). Virginia, one of the nation's best in clearing the ball, was successful on 17-of-18 attempts.
Virginia scored early and often to take a quick 5-0 lead, including shutting out the Tar Heels in the opening quarter. Stanwick (Baltimore, Md.) scored his first goal in transition on a Ken Clausen (Downingtown, Pa.) pass with 12:34 left in the first quarter. Colin Briggs (Narragansett, R.I.) then picked up a ricocheted shot in front of the cage and deposited it in the goal at 9:35 to give UVa the 2-0 lead. John Haldy (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) scored from 13 yards out on a pass from George Huguely (Chevy Chase, Md.) at 4:46 to cap the first quarter scoring, 3-0, UVa's advantage.
Stanwick started things in the second quarter, scoring his second goal via a Shamel Bratton (Huntington Station, N.Y.) assist on the extra-man situation at 11:36 in the second quarter. Stanwick scored again with the highlight play of the game, capping the 5-0 run at 11:25. Stanwick tallied the score with his back to the goal and shot the ball over his right shoulder as he was being checked to the ground by the UNC defense. The shot cleared the pole and bounced between the legs of UNC goalie Chris Madalon.
North Carolina answered back with three-straight goals to cut its deficit going into the intermission, 5-3. Billy Bitter scored back-to-back unassisted goals at 11:02 and 9:34 in the second quarter. Jimmy Dunster then capped the UNC run at 7:59 via a Gavin Petracca score in the extra-man chance when UVa's Bray Malphrus (Chevy Chase, Md.) was penalized for an illegal body-check on Bitter's second score.
The Tar Heels cut its deficit to one goal, 5-4, when Cryder DiPietro opened up the third quarter scoring at 7:59 with his unassisted goal. Virginia ended the UNC scoring spree at the 4:04 mark when Stanwick found a wide-open Matt White (Ridgefield, Conn.) on the restart, pushing the UVa advantage to two goals, 6-4.
Chris Bocklet (South Salem, N.Y.) capped UVa's scoring for the game with his unassisted score at 11:27 left in the game, pushing the Cavalier advantage to 7-4. Michael Burns took a Sean Jackson pass with 3:35 remaining for the score, but it wasn't enough as UVa rode out the clock to secure the 7-5 victory.
"We never really got on track offensively, but I give credit to Carolina for that," said Starsia. "They are the best defensive team we have faced all year. We battled for 60 minutes, some days there isn't a lot of magic happening and you need to fight it out when it happens. You run into these type of games in the conference more times than not. Certainly a good victory for us over a quality team."
Bocklet added a game-high five ground balls, while causing three turnovers. Adam Ghitelman saved 12 shots, picking up the victory between the pipes.
Milton Lyles matched Bocklet's game-high five ground balls for UNC, while Madalon saved 14 shots in goal despite allowing seven scores.
North Carolina vs. Virginia