No. 7 Virginia returned to its winning ways Saturday with a 11-4 win against No. 15 North Carolina to stay atop the ACC standings. The Cavaliers (7-2, 4-0 ACC) went on a five-goal run in the first half to propel themselves over the Tar Heels (7-3, 0-2 ACC) with junior attacker Peyton Cormier leading the offense with four goals and one assist.
The game began with North Carolina winning the first faceoff, before Virginia denied the Tar Heels and forced a shot clock violation. On the ensuing possession, Cormier opened up the scoring for the Cavaliers after picking up a ground ball from a deflected shot. North Carolinathen equalized with the goal scored by graduate student attacker Chris Gray.
Gray then added a second goal to give the Tar Heels the lead after multiple saves by freshman goalie Matthew Nunes on previous possessions. Nunes finished the first quarter with four saves and finished the day with 13 saves and a 76.5 save percentage.
To begin the second quarter Virginia quickly tied the game 2-2. After a forced turnover by junior defender Quentin Matsui, graduate student midfielder Evan Zinn scored on a step-down shot assisted by junior attacker Xander Dickson. A few minutes later North Carolina responded with a goal scored by sophomore midfielder Cole Herbert and assisted by Gray.
Later in the quarter, the Cavaliers were awarded a man-up opportunity after the Tar Heels were caught offside. Virginia took advantage with a goal by sophomore attacker Patrick Mcintosh, assisted by Cormier.
Next, freshman attacker Griffin Schutz scored a solo goal to give the lead back to the Cavaliers. Minutes later, Cormier added to the lead with a goal assisted by senior midfielder Jeff Conner to make the score 5-3.
With 15 seconds left in the first half, from behind the goal sophomore attacker Connor Shellenberger assisted a cutting Cormier to add to the Cavalier lead.
The third quarter began with multiple saves by both goalies on excellent scoring chances before Conner scored for the Cavaliers to bring the score to 7-3. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Gray brought the Tar Heels back with an unassisted goal to cut the lead to three.
North Carolina was then awarded a man-up opportunity for a tripping penalty, but the Cavalier defense stood strong to close out the third quarter.
After junior defender Cade Saustad intercepted a pass to set the Cavaliers up on offense, Shellenberger took advantage of the opportunity, scoring a solo goal after getting past his defender behind the cage to make the score 8-4 with 12:10 left in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing Virginia possession, Schutz added to the scoring on an unassisted goal to extend the lead to five. With 4:44 left in the fourth quarter, Connor found Cormier on the doorstep who shoveled the ball into the net to make the score 10-4.
Zinn then scored his second goal of the day assisted by Conner with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter to give the Cavaliers an 11-4 victory.
“I’m ecstatic with the way our defense played today,” Coach Lars Tiffany said. “And certainly, Matt Nunes bailed us out when we needed some help behind them.”
Virginia will return to action Thursday against Duke at Koskinen Stadium in Durham N.C. The game will be streamed on ACC Network at 6 p.m.