CHAPEL HILL, N.C.-The sound of the ball hitting the post was audible for most of the first half of Saturday's rain-splattered men's lacrosse game at North Carolina. Both the Cavaliers and the Tar Heels fired countless shots that looked promising, only to bounce off the pipe.
No. 2 Virginia clung to a 4-3 lead at halftime, but the big guns took control in the third quarter, leading the Cavs to a 13-7 win over the No. 10 Heels.
Seniors Drew McKnight and Jay Jalbert and sophomore Conor Gill found the back of the cage in a 5-0 third-quarter run to give the Cavs (7-1, 2-0 ACC) a 9-4 lead entering the final period.
Starsia and assistant coach Chris Colbeck also shifted the Cav attackmen at halftime, putting McKnight behind the cage as point man and moving Gill around in front, a move that seemed to confuse the Tar Heels (6-4, 0-3).
"They had spent all week preparing for Conor Gill behind the goal," Starsia said. "The move gave Conor and Drew new angles to work with."
McKnight finished the day with a team-high four goals and two assists. Jalbert's third-quarter goal was his only tally, but it was his 100th as a Cavalier.
The Cavs were frustrated in the first half by the play of North Carolina sophomore goalie Kris Blindenbacher, who made 16 saves on the afternoon.
"He was excellent," Starsia said. "I thought we shot as many balls stick-side high as humanly possible, but he was very, very good in the first half."
"The defense really held up and kept it close," McKnight said. "Ryan Curtis, Court Weisleder, Mark Koontz, Peter Ragosa and especially Derek Kenney, who made some tough saves. They really stayed strong the whole game."
Starsia was happy with the result, but cautioned that Virginia cannot expect to defend its NCAA title by turning it on after halftime in every game
"In the second half of a long season on the road at Carolina, you take a win like this in the conference," Starsia said. "But we have to play better than this if we want to accomplish the things we want to win. We don't have a half of lacrosse to waste. You learn some things when these kinds of things happen, and we're glad that we came out in the second half and took the game back over"