No. 1 Tar Heels Down UVa to Claim First ACC Title in 17 Years

The Tar Heels fell behind 5-3 in the first quarter before a 6-2 second-quarter scoring run had them up 10-7 at the half.

From there on the Tar Heels, who set an ACC Championship scoring record with 34 goals in two games, remained a step ahead most of the way. The previous tournament scoring record was 31 goals by Duke in 1995 and 2009 and Carolina in 1996.

The first half that began in a steady light rain and ended with North Carolina in front by a 10-7 score.

Holman became the Tar Heels' all-time leading scorer when he assisted on back-to-back by goals by Emala in the closing minutes of the second period. Holman's second connection with Emala gave him 205 career points, surpassing the previous school record of 204 set by Bruce Ledwith (1970-73).

O'Reilly handed out four assists in the first quarter alone and added a second-period goal to end the first half with five points. Emala's hat trick and one assist paced North Carolina's scoring in the opening period.

Two nights after North Carolina and Duke set an ACC Championship record with a combined 35 goals, the Tar Heels and Cavaliers displayed similar scoring prowess in opening minutes Sunday. The teams combined for four goals in the first 3:01 of the game, and the score was knotted 3-3 at the 8:48 mark of the first quarter before the floodgates somewhat closed.

The Tar Heels controlled 13 of 19 first-half faceoffs and ended up with an 18-14 edge for the game. North Carolina also led in ground balls, 41-37. Virginia outshot the Tar Heels 46-42.

Goalie play was a big difference as freshman Kieran Burke made 17 saves while allowing 13 goals. In two games against Virginia this year his save percentage is .667 (40 saves, 20 goals allowed). Rhody Heller finished with 11 saves for Carolina.

The Tar Heels were brilliant on extra-man as they were 3 for 4 on the day while the UNC man-down unit was stellar, denying Virginia on all five of its chances.

"I think Carolina has evolved defensively," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "The kid in the cage (Burke) had kind of solidified that position for them. I thought we really had a shot at it when we closed it to two goals there late in the third quarter, early in the fourth. But Carolina was just a little slicker in the unsettled game, converted more easily, and came out on top."

Holman was joined on the All-Tournament team by Tar Heel teammates Davey Emala, Chad Tutton, Kieran Burke and R.G. Keenan. White, O'Relly, Mark Cockerton and Harry Prevas represented Virginia on the squad, and Jordan Wolf and Brendan Fowler were named from Duke.

In addition to Sunday's single-game goals record, White set an ACC Championship record for total goals scored (10) and total points (13). O'Neill's nine assists in two games were also a tournament record

* * * *

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. North Carolina's long wait ended Sunday afternoon at Kenan Stadium.

Packing a lethal offensive punch for the second straight tournament game and holding at least a two-goal lead throughout the final 32 minutes, the second-seeded Tar Heels turned back fourth-seeded Virginia, 16-13, in the title game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship.

A crowd of 4,001 saw the Tar Heels (12-3) claim their 12th ACC title overall and their eighth since the league began determining its champion via a tournament format in 1989. But North Carolina's last ACC championship prior to Sunday had come in 1996.

"We've had five years of working hard, recruiting and trying to bring in the best people," said Joe Breschi, the Tar Heels' head coach since 2009. "You hear (our players) talking about being together and how tight they are. They believe in each other and they continue to battle for one another, and that's what makes them great."

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