Gray, Krieg Fuel UNC's First Win Over Virginia Since 2017


North Carolina has had the hottest start of any team in Division I men’s lacrosse — six victories, all with no fewer than 14 goals scored.

But the Tar Heels had yet to face an ACC opponent this spring. They hadn’t faced one last spring, either.

Since the season began, the Tar Heels have beaten Denver, gotten past High Point twice and topped Richmond, but a matchup with Virginia loomed as a test over 700 days in the making. Would North Carolina add another reason to believe this season could be a special?

The Tar Heels jumped out to a big first-half lead and, thanks to the efforts of Chris Gray on offense and Collin Krieg in the cage, they held on to beat the Cavaliers 16-13 in Charlottesville.

Gray was a known commodity, entering the season as the Tar Heels’ leading offensive weapon. He lived up to the title, scoring four goals, three of the #SCTop10 fashion. We’ll just drop all three here for your convenience.

Krieg entered 2021 not knowing whether he’d see the field, but he won the position battle early in the season. The freshman, playing in just his seventh game, made a career-high 20 saves to hold the Virginia offense at bay.

The North Carolina offense got going early, with goals from both Nicky Solomon and Gray early in the first quarter. Tanner Cook added two assists to help the Tar Heels jump out to a 5-2 lead.

Virginia had a chance to cut into the deficit after Zac Tucci was called for a three-minute major for an illegal crosse. Krieg made a save on a Peter Garno shot just seconds into the man-up, and North Carolina held possession for much of the next two minutes before Brian Cameron added a man-down goal to make it 6-2. Andrew Tyeryar won the ensuing faceoff and went coast-to-coast to give the Tar Heels even more breathing room.

Solomon scored a low-angle jumpshot and Gray added another on a toe-drag fake in front of the crease to push the lead to 11-4 by halftime. Virginia outshot North Carolina 31-26 in the first half, but Krieg’s 11 saves helped keep his team in the lead.

Payton Cormier scored twice out of halftime and Jeff Connor added his first to cut the deficit to 11-7. Virginia got within four goals twice in the third quarter, but it was a four-goal rally that pulled the Cavaliers within two goals at 15-13 with 1:35 left.

Matt Moore had two shots in the final minute, but one went wide and the other was stopped by Krieg, sealing the victory.

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