CHARLOTTESVILLE — A fortnight between games didn’t leave the Virginia lacrosse team too sharp entering the NCAA tournament.
It did, however, leave the Cavaliers’ banged-up attack as healthy as it has been all season, and that was just enough for them to slog their way into another week.
Garrett Billings scored the game-winning goal with 6:50 left — the ninth goal for Virginia’s attack — as the second-seeded Cavaliers survived Maryland-Baltimore County 10-9 at Klockner Stadium.
Danny Glading scored four goals and Billings added three goals and two assists for Virginia (13-3), which will meet seventh-seeded Maryland (10-5) in Saturday’s quarterfinals in Annapolis. Senior Ben Rubeor scored twice.
“Our big boys made some plays,” coach Dom Starsia said. “People ask why it seems Danny and Garrett and Ben step up. Well, that’s who they are, and that’s what we expect of them. I think it’s going to be hard to hold them down for 60 minutes.”
Especially if they’re healthy. The Virginia attack was hampered throughout the season, with Rubeor (knee), Billings (back) and Glading (hamstring) all battling injuries.
Glading in particular seemed revived from two weeks to recover from the regular season. The junior, limited since March 15, was able to ignite an offense that seemed sluggish throughout the first half.
He scored three goals in the third quarter, including a fading shot after running from behind the cage with 8.3 seconds left in the period to give Virginia a 9-7 edge.
“It’s not so much the rest, though that helped a lot,” Glading said. “I’ve been getting better in the last few weeks, and I finally got in the weight room and was able to get a couple good lifts in, and I’ve been doing all the running in practice. By far this is the best I’ve felt since the beginning of the season.”
He might have felt worse if the Cavaliers had not responded to back-to-back goals by UMBC early in the fourth quarter. But Billings deposited a feed from Rubeor on an extra-man chance to give Virginia a tenuous 10-9 lead.
The Retrievers (12-4) had chances in the final moments to tie it. Terry Kimener’s dart went off the facemask of goalie Bud Petit (eight saves) with 38 seconds left.
Kyle Wimer took the final shot in the closing seconds, but it slipped wide, and Virginia’s Will Barrow managed to kill the rest of the clock.
“I remember the last one hit me right in the face,” Petit said. “I didn’t see it, but thank God it hit me right in the face.”
It was a spunky performance from the Retrievers (12-4), who entered on a school-record 11-game winning streak. They played without leading scorer Ryan Smith (ACL) and shifted do-it-all midfielder Kimener to attack. However, Virginia defenseman Ken Clausen held the crafty senior to two assists.
Clausen — not to mention the attack — ensured the Cavaliers averted their second straight first-round flameout.