Keenan the Hero as North Carolina Edges UVa, 11-10
In-Game Blog Replay
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A faceoff win and sprinting goal by R.G. Keenan on his senior day was enough to lift No. 4 North Carolina over No. 9 Virginia with the 11-10 victory on the Tar Heels' senior day.
Keenan, who went 11-for-25 at the X on the day, won the key one of the afternoon after a goal by Steve Pontrello knotted the score at 10 for the Tar Heels. With the ball in his stick, he went straight for the cage and scored, after which his defense able to hang on for the win.
"We needed the ball with a short time left," said Keenan, "I knew on the last fast break they didn't slide at me so I just took it in, and it went in."
Virginia had the ball and called a timeout with just over two minute remaining to settle for a chance at the equalizer, but Ryan Creighton forced a turnover by Virginia's Pannell. North Carolina's clear resulted in a time-draining play that ended in Breschi calling his own timeout to avoid a stall warning, giving the Cavaliers one last chance with under 30 remaining.
But as Virginia tried to take the ball up the field, they failed in the clear attempt with a turnover by Chris LaPierre. Creighton secured the groundball as the clock ticked down from nine seconds to zero.
"Ryan Creighton was off the charts," said Breschi, "The amount of plays he made, he ran out two balls on the end lines to get possessions, those are all huge plays as a captain and a leader of the team. He did a fantastic job."
In games decided by one goal between North Carolina and Virginia, today ended a seven-game winning streak by the Cavaliers in the series dating back to 2000. The previous time Carolina won by one goal over Virginia was 1996.
"It's huge for the ACC running, it's huge," said Keenan of the implications the North Carolina win over the conference rival in terms of the ACC Tournament, particularly as expansion will leave two teams not playing on Championship weekend.
The Heels had started out strong and jumped to a 3-1 lead after two consecutive goals in the first quarter. By the end of the quarter, North Carolina led shots 13-6.
Virginia came back in shots and goals in the second period, scoring four goals off three Cavaliers and out-shot the Tar Heels 12-9 for the quarter. North Carolina answered with an unassisted goal at 1:34 by Jimmy Bitter only to be tied 14 seconds later with a Matt Cockerton Virginia goal, his second of the quarter.
The effort left the game tied 5-5 at the half.
The Cavaliers opened the second half with a goal scored almost a minute in.
With back-and forth motions by both teams for most of the first half of the third period with little change on the scoreboard, it took North Carolina until the 9:22 mark to tie the game 6-6 off a Joey Sankey goal. Pat Foster gave Sankey the assist, their third scoring package of the day.
The first and only man-up situation of the game did not come until 1:31 remained in the third quarter. Virginia's Pannell was called for tripping, and North Carolina capitalized with a goal by Walker Chafee to put the Tar Heels back on top 9-8.
"We knew that if we do get the opportunity that we have to finish," said North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi, "Walker Chafee is a heck of a shooter. We call him a hired gun because he can bring it."
While Virginia led in shots and groundballs (11-8 and 13-6) for the third quarter, North Carolina edged in goals 4-3 heading into what could determine the Atlantic Coast Conference post-season.
Neither team could score again until 3:38 remained in the game. Virginia went ahead 10-9 off a Greg Coholan goal from Owen Van Arsdale, but North Carolina's comeback was too much for the Cavaliers to answer.
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