The Virginia men's lacrosse team got off to a cold start, but found a remedy in a hot goalie.
Junior Adam Ghitelman made eight of his game-high 16 saves in the first half, and the No. 2 Cavaliers rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the first quarter to defeat No. 5 Maryland, 10-6, before an announced 2,626 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament final at Byrd Stadium today.
Virginia improved to 13-1 and captured its sixth ACC Tournament championship thanks to the play of Ghitelman, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player on his 21st birthday.
In the first half, Ghitelman turned away Terps junior attackman Grant Catalino three times, used his stick to block a behind-the-head offering from sophomore midfielder jake Bernhardt in the slot and made back-to-back saves on junior attackmen Ryan Young and Travis Reed during one sequence.
"I was seeing the ball well, and my defense was giving me shots that I could handle," said Ghitelman, who made just four saves in the teams' first meeting on April 3. "We covered a great attack today. Those guys are top-notch. A team like Maryland is going to get good shots, they're going to score. I just made sure to keep my focus after that quick three-goal spurt in the beginning. Our defense really played phenomenal today."
Ghitelman's performance in that half allowed the Cavaliers to settle into the contest after Maryland opened with a 3-0 run over a span of 3 minutes, 18 seconds in the first quarter.
After sophomore midfielder Michael Shakespeare's goal gave the Terps a 3-0 advantage with 7:34 left in the first period, Virginia called a timeout and responded 45 seconds later with a tally from senior midfielder Brian Carroll (Gilman). The offense then scored four of the next five goals to take a 5-4 halftime lead.
"I thought the timeout helped us to least catch our breath and kind of get to it," Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia said. "I think from that moment on, we just battled the rest of the way. I felt really good at halftime. I just felt like we had a little bounce in our step in the locker room, and I thought we'd come out and play hard in the second half. I thought we did that."
Catalino tied the score at 5-5 just 1:55 into the third quarter, but Virginia embarked on a 5-0 run to cement the outcome and the crown.
Maryland outshot the Cavaliers, 18-11, in the second half, but could not solve Ghitelman.
"I think it comes down to, we weren't shooting the ball very well," Catalino said. "You've got to give credit to their defense and their goaltending. We were making some good shots and beating their guys and drawing slides, but we just couldn't finish the ball today."
Virginia sophomore attackman Steele Stanwick (Loyola) and junior midfielder Rhamel Bratton led all players with three points on two goals and one assist each. Carroll added two goals. Catalino registered one goal and one assist for the Terps (9-3), who played without senior midfielder/attackman Will Yeatman. Yeatman, who had five points on four goals and one assist on April 3, apparently suffered a concussion toward the end of Friday's 13-5 ACC semifinal victory over No. 3 North Carolina and was ruled out.
Notes: Maryland has not captured an ACC Tournament championship since 2005. ÃÂ Virginia has won nine of the last 10 meetings in this series. ÃÂ Besides Ghitelman, the Cavaliers placed Stanwick, Bratton, his twin brother Shamel Bratton, defenseman Ken Clausen, attackman Matt White and face-off specialist Brian McDermott on the All-Tournament team. The Terps were represented by Catalino, defenseman Brett Schmidt, long-stick midfielder Brian Farrell and midfielder John Haus. Duke attackman Max Quinzani and North Carolina defenseman Ryan Flanagan also made the team.