Billings Lifts Vir­ginia Past UNC in Over­time

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports - By Chris­tian Swezey

K Vir­ginia 10,

North Carolina 9

CHARLOTTESVILLE, April 7 — Gar­rett Billings, a sopho­more at­tack­man on the Vir­ginia men’s lacrosse team, had an open shot from five yards mid­way through the fourth quar­ter against North Carolina on Satur­day night. The shot hit the cross­bar and bounced away.

Ear­lier in the game, Billings took a shot to­ward an empty net that went be­hind the goal.

Billings had a third open shot in sud­den-death over­time, and did not miss. He scored the win­ning goal on an ex­tra-man sit­u­a­tion as the Cav­a­liers de­feated North Carolina, 10-9, be­fore 2,566 on a frigid night at Klock­ner Sta­dium.

The vic­tory was the 27th in the past 28 games for the Cav­a­liers (10-1, 2-0 ACC). But it was not easy against the Tar Heels (7-4, 0-3).

The Tar Heels led 8-7 and 9-8 in the fourth quar­ter. With three min­utes left and trail­ing 9-8, Vir­ginia ju­nior Ben Rubeor, the lead­ing scorer in the na­tion, took a shot that got un­der North Carolina goalie Grant Zim­mer­man. But the ball stopped an inch short of the goal line, and Zim­mer­man cleared it.

But se­nior Drew Thompson’s goal with 2 min­utes 6 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion tied the score at 9.

North Carolina sopho­more Shane Wal­ter­hoe­fer won the open­ing face­off in over­time. Fol­low­ing a time­out, ju­nior Brian Con­nors took a 12-yard shot that was saved by ju­nior goalie Kip Turner. The Cav­a­liers then had an ex­tra-man op­por­tu­nity fol­low­ing a 30-sec­ond push­ing call on ju­nior Brian Burke. The win­ning goal came on the ex­tra­man pos­ses­sion.

“They were shut­ting off Ben, and even­tu­ally they had one de­fense­man to cover [mid­fielder Jack Ri­ley] and me,” Billings said. “When the de­fense­man went to Jack, I knew I would have the shot.”

The close game con­tin­ued a reemer­gence for the per­plex­ing Tar Heels. They have 21 high school al­lAmer­i­cans, yet went 9-18 in 2005 and 2006 and have not won an ACC game since 2004.

Games against Vir­ginia have been par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult: In the past two, North Carolina had to re­place its start­ing goalie for in­ef­fec­tive play.

On Satur­day, how­ever, the Tar Heels en­tered with plenty of con­fi­dence. They de­feated Johns Hop­kins, 13-10, on March 31; it was their first vic­tory in the se­ries since 1994.

And there were no prob­lems with Zim­mer­man, a sopho­more. Late in the sec­ond quar­ter, the Cav­a­liers dis­rupted a clear and, with Zim­mer­man about five yards from the goal, Thompson fired a low shot into a seem­ingly empty net.

But Zim­mer­man dove into the crease and blocked the shot with his body.

The Cav­a­liers led 7-4 at half­time, then were shut out in the third quar­ter — just the sec­ond time they had failed to score in a quar­ter since 2005. The Tar Heels drew level at 7 on a goal by sopho­more Bart Wag­ner mid­way through the quar­ter.

“I thought if we could have scored a cou­ple of goals in the third quar­ter we might have been able to bury the game,” Vir­ginia Coach Dom Star­sia said.

Zim­mer­man set a ca­reer high with 15 saves against Johns Hop­kins on March 31, and he tied that to­tal on Satur­day. Wag­ner added a ca­reer-high four goals. Billings scored two goals and fresh­man de­fense­man Ken Clausen added a goal and seven ground­balls.

“We con­trolled the ball a lot more in the sec­ond half and we shot the ball much bet­ter in the sec­ond half,” North Carolina Coach John Haus said. “We did okay in over­time, we got a shot or two.”

Vir­ginia has a 10-game win­ning streak en­ter­ing its game against No. 4 Duke on April 14 in Durham, N.C.

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