Virginia Upsets Defending National Champion North Carolina
by Maddie Salamone | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In what was an exciting game from start to finish, No. 6 Virginia came from behind to upset No. 3 North Carolina 10-9. Mindful of the fact that the Tar Heels were responsible for ending Virginia’s NCAA tournament run in the last three of four years, the Cavaliers were determined to turn that around this year.
Both teams battled to the bitter end of what could have been anyone’s game.
North Carolina struck first on an unassisted goal from Maggie Bill less than a minute into the game. Virginia answered quickly and the score remained close for most of the first half, but North Carolina was able to build up a 7-4 lead at the break despite an unusually high number of turnovers by both Virginia and North Carolina.
The second half did not get off to a good start for Virginia, as the Tar Heels punched first with a goal from Taylor George on a feed from Maggie Bill. North Carolina then continued to look strong with the ball, but could not get it past Virginia goalie Liz Colgan, who recorded nine saves.
In-Game Blog Replay
Virginia is headed to its first final four since 2007 after upsetting defending national champion North Carolina 10-9 on Saturday. (Peyton Williams)
Finally, Virginia was able to convert on a shot from Mary Alati to bring the score back within three at 8-5 and that ended up igniting a six-goal Cavelier run that gave them a 10-8 lead. Liza Blue had two goals during the run and Casey Bocklet had a goal and two assists during the run, including the goal that tied it 8-8 with 12:37 to go. Blue then scored with 8:56 to play and assisted Maddy Keeshan's goal with 6:45 left.
Despite North Carolina’s dominance in the draw control category during the first half, the Tar Heels were unable to come up with a single draw during the six-goal run and that made the difference for the Cavaliers.
However, just when it looked like Virginia might be able to sit comfortably with a two-goal lead and about four and a half minutes to go, the Tar Heels regained possession on a huge save in goal by Megan Ward, after a shot by Virginia’s Kelly Boyd. Abbey Friend scored on a fast break to bring North Carolina back within one with 4:17 remaining.
The next four minutes had fans on the edge of their seats, as the Tar Heels won the ensuing draw and managed to get two shots off before Colgan came up with another save for the Cavaliers. After chasing Colgan around the crease, Abbey Friend caused a turnover with Colgan still behind the goal. Then, an amazing check by a Virginia defender deterred a shot by George in front of a wide-open goal, off a flip from Friend
Virginia got the ball back on the wide shot, with 1:38 left to play, and got it up the field under intense pressure by North Carolina. With twenty seconds to go, Sloane Serpe caused a turnover out-of-bounds with time to score again. The Tar Heels quickly worked it up the field, but Virginia intercepted it with 15 seconds to go and they held onto it to come away with the 10-9 win.
An emotional North Carolina head coach, Jenny Levy, started by acknowledging the great effort by the Cavaliers.
“Congratulations to Virginia, I thought in the second half, they made some plays, the goalie made some saves, and they made some plays offensively and on the draw to give them the advantage,” said Levy, “Obviously, we’re heartbroken, especially for our senior group, who has done such a great job of leading.”
Following the game, Virginia coach Julie Myers, credited the North Carolina defense with forcing them to take their time on offense. “One of Carolina’s strengths is how good they are at defense," adding, “It took that long to get a good shot off, so their strength ended up kind of hurting them a little bit because it was so hard for us to get a shot off.”
Myers gave the Tar Heels a lot of credit for making them earn the win.
“Carolina is a fantastic team. They made us work really hard for it and I feel like we got the momentum at just the right time in the game and we were able to see it through,” said Myers. “I couldn’t be more proud of how hard the girls have worked and how we played today, coming off with a win, and taking us to the Final Four. You couldn’t have scripted it any better for Virginia right now, so we’re super excited.”
This is the first time, since 2007, that the Cavaliers have made it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. No. 6 Virginia will take on No. 2 Syracuse in Towson, Maryland on Friday, May 23rd. The other teams to advance today were No. 1 Maryland and No. 5 Northwestern.
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