(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)
The North Carolina Tar Heels pushed their record to 7-0 and their winning streak to 14 on Thursday night, taking down Virginia 16-13 in their first ACC contest of the season. It was their first win over the Cavaliers since 2017.
Chris Gray’s four goals and one assist and Nicky Soloman’s three goals and three assist led the way and highlighted the Tar Heels’ offensive effort, but it was the North Carolina defense that got the job done. And most import piece in the equation: freshman goalie Collin Krieg. The Long Island native stood tall, making an impressive 20 saves with a 61% save percentage.
11 of those 20 saves from Krieg came in the second quarter and helped the Tar Heels build an impressive 11-4 lead heading into the half. The Tar Heels outscored the Cavaliers 8-2 in the final 19-plus minutes of the half alone, which included two four-goal runs.
In addition to the impressive play from Krieg, Will Bowen continued to shine as the Tar Heels’ top pole. The junior was tasked with guarding Matt Moore and did more than an exceptional job, holding the Cavaliers’ third-leading scorer to two goals and two assists, all of which came in the second half.
While the Cavaliers were down, they were never out. Led by a five-point (2G/3A) effort from Connor Shellenberger and hat trick from Payton Cormier, Virginia was able to come all the way back and eventually cut it to a two-goal game late in the fourth. The Cavaliers’ comeback was sparked by a Griffin Harris goal with :43 in the first half. They turned that into a four-goal run to cut it to 11-7 with 10:09 in the third.
Following the Tar Heels being able to continually, Virginia churned out one last four-goal run that included two from Shellenberger. However, the Tar Heels were able to hold on and secure the 16-13 victory. Justin Anderson scored the final goal of the game for North Carolina with just 10 seconds left on the clock.