During those three losses -- against Duke, Maryland and Johns Hopkins -- the Tar Heels struggled defensively, allowing 11.3 goals per game.
Against the fourth-ranked Cavaliers, UNC found the remedy for its defensive ills: keeping possession of the ball and thus limiting Virginia's offensive chances.
The Tar Heels successfully employed a patient, ball-control offense to help fuel a stifling defensive effort as they upset Virginia 7-5.
The win was only UNC's second victory against an ACC opponent in its last 20 games. The victory also snapped a six-game losing streak to the Cavaliers, including a 17-16 ACC tournament loss last year.
"This is a huge win for our players," UNC coach John Haus said. "We haven't had any ACC success or beaten any top-10 teams, so we accomplished those two goals today."
Jeff Sonke, UNC's senior All-ACC performer, said: "This win means a hell of a lot to us. In the seniors' four years here, it is the first win against these guys."
The five goals allowed was the fewest the Tar Heels had given up in a conference game since the 1992 season when they beat Virginia 14-5.
North Carolina junior goalie Kris Blindenbacher, who started for the first time in six games, recorded 22 saves -- one short of the career high he set against Johns Hopkins last April -- and snagged eight ground balls.
While the North Carolina defense was suffocating, the offense's lack of turnovers and slow tempo greatly contributed to UVa's inability to score. When the Cavs did control possession, they often appeared impatient and frustrated and were prone to taking bad shots.