NCAA Quarterfinals: Virginia Downs Georgetown, Connor McCarthy’s Game-Winner Pushes North Carolina Past Rutgers

(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)

Less than two minutes after finding Ian Laviano for the first goal of the contest, Connor Shellenberger took it from behind and used an inside roll to put the Cavaliers up 2-1. The goal came directly after a huge Dox Aitken hit to shut down the Georgetown clear and would be the first of a career-high six for the redshirt freshman.

Shellenberger’s first of the day sparked a nine-goal run that saw the Cavaliers push ahead 10-1 at the half. And while Georgetown was able to get the first goal of the third quarter, Virginia outscored the Hoyas 4-2 in the second half to take home the 14-3 win and punch their ticket back to Championship Weekend.

If anything, the opening possession of the game was indicative of how this contest would go. Georgetown faceoff man James Reilly drew a flag when pushed in the back by Jared Conners during the opening faceoff sequence and would exit the game with an apparent lower-body injury. He tried to come back, later in the first but couldn’t go.

The Hoyas were unable to capitalize on the  ensuing man-up possession where they drew another penalty and eventually went two-men up. However, a Nicky Petkevich shot from the left wing that was stopped by Alex Rode would be all the Hoyas would get. Laviano put in the first tally of the game for the Cavaliers just seconds later on the following Virginia possession.

In total, Georgetown had four extra-man opportunities and didn’t convert on a single one as they struggled to find any rhythm all game.

Petey LaSalla went 15-for-19 (79%) at the faceoff dot and the Virginia defense forced 12 of Georgetown’s 18 turnovers and held Tewarraton finalist Jake Carraway scoreless (0-for-5 shooting and 6 turnovers) to end his nation-best 44 game scoring streak. The Cavaliers also held Georgetown to 18-for-21 in the clearing game and won the ground ball battle 31-16.

Kyle Kology led the way on the back end for the Cavaliers with three ground balls and three assists while Kyle Rode made eight saves in cage. In addition to Shellenberger’s big day, Laviano had two goals and Jeff Conner dished out two assists to help the Virginia offense.

Declan McDermott, Dylan Watson, and Gibson Smith had each of the Hoyas’ three goals.

North Carolina 12, Rutgers 11

While falling, William Perry found Connor McCarthy who was able to put one past Colin Kirst to secure the 12-11 victory for North Carolina and send them back to Championship Weekend since winning the title in 2016. The game-winning possession was a result of Tar Heel attackman Chris Gray riding all the way back and forcing the Rutgers turnover to regain possession for North Carolina.

Connor Kirst gave the Scarlet Knights their biggest lead of the game (10-8) with nine minutes left in the contest, but two straight from Lance Tillman to give him his third and fourth goals of the day tied things up at 10 with 6:32 to go. The two sides continued to go back-and-forth the remainder of the game.

Adam Charalambides scored on a nasty backhanded shot while driving from X to get his fourth of the day and put Rutgers ahead 11-10. However, Zac Tucci scored off the ensuing faceoff to tie things up at 11 for North Carolina and force overtime.

After a Rutgers failed clear with under a minute remaining, North Carolina had an opportunity to end it in regulation but the Rutgers defense held to officially send this one to overtime.

Rutgers’ failed clear late in the fourth was just their third of the day, all of which came in the second half, as they went 19-for-22 in the clearing game. Additionally, the Scarlet Knights ended the day with 16 turnovers (13 caused by North Carolina). Will Bowen was credited for three of those caused turnovers, as well as three of the Tar Heels’ 28 ground balls, as he helped lead the North Carolina defense while Collin Krieg anchored the unit with 10 saves.

In between the pipes, Colin Kirst made 16 saves to anchor the Rutgers defense while John Dugenio went 15-for-27 (56%) at the faceoff dot in what was his best game of the season.

Ross Scott and Connor Kirst each had two goals and an assist to aid the Rutgers offense.

Justin Anderson had a hat trick for North Carolina.

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