Virginia’s players capitalized on this, controlling the ball and eventually scoring the first goal of the game off a penalty corner.
Sophomore goalkeeper Alex Halpin could only watch as Virginia’s Erin Shanahan skipped the ball past her to put the Cavaliers up 1-0 15 minutes into the first half.
But, the Tar Heels responded with a goal of their own shortly after.
Less than 10 minutes later, sophomore Ashley Hoffman’s pass found junior Gab Major inside the circle. Major turned and fired into the net from close range to score her ninth goal of the season and tie the game at 1.
The deadlock was short-lived, however, as Virginia scored again to make it 2-1 at halftime.
The beginning of the second half was a more even affair, but Virginia’s Anzel Viljoen pushed a deflected ball past Halpin with 22 minutes left to give the Cavaliers a comfortable 3-1 lead.
North Carolina pulled its goalie about 10 minutes later in an attempt to claw back into the game.
At first, the gamble paid off for UNC, as senior Lauren Moyer scored with 8:52 left to bring the deficit back to one goal. But, Virginia quickly capitalized on the Tar Heels’ empty net, scoring on a penalty corner with 6:22 remaining to clinch a 4-2 victory and the ACC Championship.
Who stood out?
Virginia’s speedy midfielders and forwards won the day for the Cavaliers. They harassed North Carolina’s players every time they touched the ball, keeping UNC from establishing any kind of rhythm.
The Tar Heels were outshot 17-13 and earned one less corner than Virginia did. This was the first time all season that North Carolina didn’t outshoot its opponent and have more corners.
When was it decided?
Coach Karen Shelton took a huge risk when she pulled Halpin down 3-1 with roughly 13 minutes to go in the game. The goal that UNC scored as a result was worth this risk, but Virginia's empty-net goal that was effectively secured the Cavaliers victory.
Why does it matter?
With the loss, the Tar Heels missed out on their chance to win back-to-back ACC Championships. Additionally, a victory would’ve ensured that North Carolina would be a host for the NCAA Tournament.
When do they play next?
UNC will play next in the NCAA tournament. The location and opponent for the first round of the tournament has not been revealed yet.