Billings Lifts Virginia Past UNC in Overtime
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.