@ACCMLAX Showcase: Virginia Rallies to Defeat North Carolina

Cavaliers down Tar Heels 13-11 in ACC Showcase

CHESTER, Pa. – The Virginia Cavaliers scored the game’s final three goals to rally and defeat North Carolina, 13-11, Saturday night in the ACC Showcase at PPL Park. 

Trailing 11-10 entering the fourth, James Pannell, Tyler German, and Mark Cockerton scored three straight for Virginia while the Cavalier defense held the Tar Heels scoreless over the last 15 minutes. 

“That was a very important victory for us,” said Virginia coach Dom Starsia. “It’s been a tough grind for us the past couple of weeks, and we needed this one badly.”

Cockerton tied a career high with seven points on four goals and three assists, while Pannell tallied his seventh hat trick of the season. 

After giving up four straight to fall behind 8-4 midway through the second quarter, Virginia scored late in the first half and twice with an extra man in the first 1:06 after halftime to pull to within one goal. 

The first Virginia goal after halftime, scored by Rob Emery, came five seconds after the break with time running out on a Tar Heel penalty.

“That was huge,” said Cockerton. “It was probably the quickest goal we’ve scored all season coming out of the half and it just got us going. First half we didn’t play our best game but we came out in the second half strong and we built off of that momentum.”

The two teams battled back and forth through the third quarter. With 6:05 left in the fourth, German scored the eventual game winner to give the Cavaliers their first lead since the score stood at 3-2 less than 10 minutes into the game.

Virginia outshot North Carolina, 40-33, and was 15-for-27 on faceoffs. Both teams converted on two extra-man opportunities. 

Eight different players found the back of the net for the Tar Heels, led by Jimmy Bitter with three goals. 

With the win, No. 8 Virginia improved to 10-5 on the season, while No. 6 North Carolina fell to 10-4. 

North Carolina and Virginia now await word on a bid to the NCAA Tournament, with the field scheduled to be announced May 4 at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. 


Head Coach Dom Starsia 
Opening Statement
“That was a very important victory for us. It’s been a tough grind for us the past couple of weeks, and we needed this one badly. We may have been a playoff team even if we didn’t get in, but now we have a little more confidence and momentum going forward after getting the win tonight. As the game was going on not knowing whether or not we were going to win, I thought to myself a moral victory is going to be of no consequence right now. We need to win this game. I’m very glad we found a way to do it.”

On Matt Barrett
“We came to Philly in the third game of the season to play Drexel, and we won the two games before that but we didn’t play well so you start to worry about a freshman. Drexel always plays us very well and he was terrific in that game so I told him were going home to Philly tonight. There was no way we were going to win that game if we didn’t get good goalie play and he certainly gave that to us tonight.”

On the stretch to open the second half
“They had a penalty at the end of the first half so we only had 15 seconds left and you’re not feeling like you’re going to score but we got one quickly and they got another penalty and we scored quickly again. When things aren’t going well it feels like nothing will ever go your way and it hasn’t particularly over the last month. Those penalties gave us a chance to climb our way back early in the second half and it gave us a little boost going forward.”

Senior Attack Mark Cockerton  
On needing this game heading into the NCAA Tournament
“We’ve been searching for the big road win in the ACC and its awesome going into the NCAA tournament it will boost our confidence a lot and I think that were coming on strong and the best time to start making a run is now and I think we can do it.”

On the goals to start the second half
“That was huge. It was probably the quickest goal we’ve scored all season coming out of the half and it just got us going. First half we didn’t play our best game but we came out in the second half strong and we built off of that momentum.”

Sophomore Attack James Pannell
On the stretch to open the second half
“I think it’s big, getting a couple goals on a great goalie like that. I think it’s huge because it builds confidence throughout the game. Getting on a goalie like that is huge for the team just to keep it going.”

Freshman Goalkeeper Matt Barnett
On the difference between this game and the earlier meeting 
“It might have been the little things like the ground balls and the 50/50 balls, getting all the clears and limiting our turnovers, and possessing the ball well. We never really got down on ourselves throughout the whole game so that definitely helped. It reminded me a lot of the first game going back and forth with goals but we were used to it, and playing UNC we know we have to fight for every ground ball and ride really well through our attack so that was really big for us.”


Head Coach Joe Breschi
Opening statement:
“I certainly want to congratulate Virginia on the win. I thought it was a good lacrosse game. We’re obviously disappointed that we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of. I think the clearing game was not great. We failed to clear it eight times, and I thought that was pretty much the difference in the game. They out ground balled us. The faceoffs were just about even, but the clearing game was a venture all game. That was not like us, but it was certainly something that at the end of the day was the difference in the game.”

On junior attack Jimmy Bitter:
“He did a great job. I think when you’re playing that much defense, it’s tough to put so much pressure on your offense to make plays. Jimmy was certainly a catalyst for us at the offensive end. I thought the attack played well when they got the ball – we just didn’t get a lot of opportunities.”

On Virginia scoring two man-up goals to start the second half:
“That certainly changed momentum. We certainly knew, and we told the guys at halftime that they would come out strong. They have some very good outside shooters, and [Rob] Emery got them started. They were able to finish their opportunities man up – I think they were 2-for-3. We had our opportunities; I think we were 2-for-5. It’s executing. At the end of the day, I think we played hard, but I didn’t think we executed as well as we are capable of.”

Junior Attack Jimmy Bitter
On the game:
“It was tough because we were up 8-4 at one point and we felt like things were going our way. I think we went into halftime with a little momentum, we were up 8-5. We came out at the start of the third quarter trying to come out strong. It started with one penalty and then another penalty and it changed the momentum. They’ve got some really good shooters. We’re used to that. We tried to bounce back, I thought we played strong, but they’re a great team. We’re going to move on. Hopefully we’ll make the [NCAA] Tournament, and from there it’s one and done.”

On takeaways from the game:
“We’ve got to get back to doing little things better. We’re a talented team, but it hurt us today with clears; things like penalties that we’ve got to clear up. The defense played well. They’re all correctable mistakes. We’re usually a really good clearing team – we just didn’t play smart. We’ve got to get back to being better with the ground balls and everything.”