Gary Seivold, North Carolina's quiet attackman, spoke loudly with a shot in overtime today that gave the Tar Heels the NCAA Division I lacrosse championship.
Only 5 feet 7 and 155 pounds but one of the quickest and best stick-handlers on the field, Seivold burst out from behind the net and scored with 2:10 remaining to give North Carolina a 10-9 victory over Virginia before 10,355.
On Saturday, Seivold got the assist on Mike Tummillo's sudden-death overtime goal against top-ranked Johns Hopkins. Today, he took it upon himself to get the ball past Virginia goalie Peter Sheehan, who was magnificent and had stopped two hard shots seconds earlier.
Asked today why he wasn't in the interview room after Saturday's match, Seivold said with a humble smile: "I really don't want to be here now, anyway. I don't feel real comfortable."
"I don't know how many of you know this, but he separated his shoulder against Maryland [in the quarterfinals], and he's had a couple of other injuries," said North Carolina Coach Willie Scroggs. "But he hasn't said two words to indicate he couldn't play. He's tougher than people think in spite of his size."
Seivold beat two defenders, the last one being Scott Lind, before scoring in the upper far corner of the net.
"I got a quick step on him," said Seivold. "Sheehan stopped me low twice on fast breaks earlier, so I decided to put it high. I think Peter Sheehan's tendency was to go low on shots."
"He had a good angle," said Sheehan. "He didn't give me time to see his stick."
Third-seeded Virginia (12-3) had tied the match at 9-9 with 1:05 to play in regulation, but the Cavaliers were unable to convert on the final shot before overtime.
Fifth-seeded North Carolina (11-3), the lowest-seeded team ever to win the NCAA title, got goals from Ted Brown and Rich Crawford in the fourth period to take a 9-8 lead. Virginia had only one legitimate shot on goal in the period before Will Rosebro bounced in a grounder to tie it.
After Virginia called timeout, the Cavaliers' Brad Wood won a crucial faceoff, knocking the ball upfield and picking it up. Virginia called timeout again with 54 seconds to play but did not attack until Jeff Nicklas, harassed by Ted Brown and Tom Haus, shot wide left from 15 yards with two seconds left.
Nicklas, who had six goals in the Cavaliers' 11-9 victory over North Carolina earlier this season, was guarded by Haus today and had only one goal.
"Jeff is one of our best shooters, and he got off a hard shot," said Virginia Coach Jim Adams. "If the opportunity had come up earlier, we would have taken it."
"[Haus] made it tough for me to get to the goal," said Nicklas. "He took me out of the game."
In overtime, after Virginia's Sheehan made a save on Robby Russell (two goals), the Cavaliers took off on a fast break. Passing up a shot on goal, John Begier tossed the ball to Ed Harney, who was five yards away in the center. Harney was open, but North Carolina's Chris Walker checked him from behind and knocked the ball loose.
"[Begier] told me later he should have shot the ball," said Adams. "That's why it's a game of inches."
North Carolina last won the NCAA title in 1982. This was the first championship since 1975 in which the top two seeded teams weren't involved. Nonetheless, the teams gave the fans their money's worth, as no more than two goals separated them during the match.