Cockerton and White Lead Cavaliers to ACC Championship

April 26, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. ( -- Virginia entered the ACC tournament knowing that a loss would be the end of the 2013 season and dash any NCAA postseason hopes, breaking a streak of eight consecutive appearances in the tournament. A 13-6 win over top-seeded Maryland on Friday clinched another game on the schedule, and a spot in the ACC Championship game.

Five different players scored in a 7-0 Virginia run spanning the third and fourth quarters, turning a one-goal lead into a comfortable winning margin. The 13 goals are the most given up by Maryland this season, as the Terps entered the game allowing only 7.27 goals per game, the third best mark in the country.

Mark Cockerton, the nation’s leading scorer, tallied four goals in the game for his eighth hat trick of the season and 12th of his career to lead the way for Virginia. Matt White had three goals and three assists for the Cavaliers, while Owen Blye had a team-high three goals for the Terrapins.

The Cavaliers have now won two games in a row after losing six straight. “We’ve been playing pretty good defense throughout the year,” said Virginia coach Dom Starsia. “We are starting to get a couple of saves, and it is just starting to come together for us a little bit.”

Virginia outshot No. 2 Maryland 22-8 in the first half, and Cockerton’s third goal of the game with 3:36 before halftime gave the Cavaliers the lead heading into the locker room.

After the two teams traded goals to start the second half, extra-man scores from Jake Bernhardt and Blye less than a minute apart got the deficit down to one for the Terrapins. Virginia scored seven unanswered to run away with the victory and into Sunday’s championship.

“Virginia played a cleaner game, had more energy, and executed better for 60 minutes,” said Maryland coach John Tillman. “We just can’t play the way that we played against a quality team like Virginia and hope to be successful.”

Niko Amato made 10 saves for Maryland in the loss, his third of the season. Counterpart Rhody Heller earned his second win with six saves for the Cavaliers.

The two teams were both perfect on extra-man opportunities, with Maryland going 2-for-2 and Virginia converting on its only chance. 

Virginia improves to 14-10 all-time in the ACC semifinals and advances to the championship game for the first time since 2010. The Cavaliers will face the winner of North Carolina and Duke on Sunday at 1 p.m., with a win needed to remain eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland now awaits the NCAA selection committee’s decision. The tournament field will be announced Sunday, May 5, at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.