CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Nick O’Reilly and Matt White had ACC Men’s Lacrosse Tournament record-breaking performances on Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t enough as the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (12-3) outlasted the Virginia Cavaliers (7-8) for the 2013 ACC title, 16-13, at Kenan Stadium. With the loss UVa concludes its season and will not make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2004 campaign.
White scored a career-high seven goals against the Tar Heels, tying a tournament record for a game and his 10 goals scored for the weekend is an ACC record for its tournament. White also had 13 points for the event, setting a new record for the ACC Tournament. O’Reilly dished out a career-high seven assists, a tournament record for a game and his nine assists for the entire tournament is also a new record. O’Reilly’s eight points for the game ties an ACC Tournament record that is shared by UVa’s Tucker Radebaugh in 1999 and North Carolina’s Dennis Goldstein in 1991.
The seven goals for White are the most by a Cavalier in a game since Garrett Billings scored eight at Stony Brook in 2009. The seven goals are the most against an ACC opponent since Paul French had seven against North Carolina in 1983.
O’Reilly and White join UVa’s Mark Cockerton and Harry Prevas as the Cavaliers’ represented on the ACC All-Tournament team. The nod is White’s second of his career, also earning honors during UVa’s 2010 run to the ACC title. Prevas had a career day with eight ground balls against UNC and caused seven turnovers during the tournament. Jordan Wolf and Brendan Fowler of Duke were also named to the ACC All-Tournament team, as was North Carolina’s Chad Tutton, Davey Emala, Kieran Burke, RG Keenan and Marcus Holman was named most valuable player.
“I told the team at the end I was very proud of the effort overall,” said Virginia head coach Dom Starsia. “This one hurts for the obvious reasons and I really felt that we had become a pretty good lacrosse team here by the end of the season. I hoped that they would get some satisfaction and be able to continue to play and we could keep these guys together. I thought they really deserved that. I told the guys in the locker room after that I hope that future teams distinguish themselves like this team did, playing with the same type of dignity and work the same way and the other things will take care of themselves. This group has a lot to be proud of.”
The game became a shootout quickly after Ryan Creighton started the game’s scoring with a goal on a pass from Holman at 13:13. Cockerton quickly deposited two goals 38 seconds apart from each other to give UVa its first lead of the game, 2-1, with 12:07 on the first quarter clock.
Jimmy Bitter scored back-to-back goals at 11:59 and 9:59 to give the Tar Heels the 3-2 advantage. UVa went on a 3-0 run, taking a 5-3 lead. Greg Coholan began the run unassisted at 8:48 and then O’Reilly assisted goals to White and Ryan Tucker. The spurt ended on Tucker’s goal with 30 seconds left in the first period.
Keenan won the ensuing faceoff for UNC and UVa’s Rhody Heller made a tough save down low on a Tutton shot with three seconds left, but the carom bounced toward Emala on the crease who scored with two seconds on the clock, ending the first quarter scoring and cutting UVa’s lead to 5-4. The goal marked the 16th time during the season that UVa gave up a goal with 30 seconds or less on the clock in a regulation period.
Emala’s goal was the first in a 9-2 UNC run that proved to be the difference in the game, including a Tutton goal with four seconds on the clock that ended the second quarter scoring. Tutton’s goal was the 17th time an opponent scored with less than 30 seconds in a regulation period against UVa and the 15th time with less than 16 seconds.
White ended the UNC run with back-to-back goals with 9:44 and 7:39 left in the third quarter, bringing UVa back to within three goals, 13-10. Tutton scored again at 6:32 to make it 14-10, before White scored two more times to cut UVa’s deficit down to two goals, 14-12 with 8:45 left in the game.
Emala and Keenan scored five seconds apart at 5:38 and 5:33 to put the stamp on North Carolina’s first ACC title since 1996. Cockerton deposited the game’s final goal with 1:39 left for his 13th career hat trick, ninth of the season and fifth in a row. Cockerton finished the season with 49 goals, passing Michael Watson (1996) for the fourth-most goals scored in a season by a Cavalier.
Virginia won the shots battle (46-42), but lost the ground balls (41-37) and faceoffs (18-14). Both teams made 14 turnovers.