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Virginia came up with the best possible plan for dealing with the North Carolina men’s lacrosse team’s potent offense.

It kept the ball away from the Tar Heels long enough to build a lead the Tar Heels never fully erased.

The fourth-seeded Cavaliers seized control during a four-minute stretch in the second quarter, when North Carolina never possessed the ball, then fended off a late rally for a 12-11 victory in an NCAA semifinal at Rentschler Field.

Attackman Chris Gray, a Tewaaraton Award finalist, had three goals and two assists and William Perry added five goals for the top-seeded Tar Heels (13-3), who suffered two of their three losses to Virginia.

Petey LaSalla won 15 of 27 faceoffs for the Cavaliers (13-4), who advanced to Monday’s title game to face either second-seeded Duke or third-seeded Maryland. Connor Shellenberger had two goals and four assists, and Alex Rode made 15 saves for Virginia.

North Carolina trailed by as many as five, but closed within 12-11 on Perry’s goal with 3:05 remaining. But the Cavaliers denied the Tar Heels several opportunities from there, including when defenseman Cole Kastner knocked down a pass to prevent North Carolina a shot in the closing seconds.

North Carolina led 4-3 early in the second quarter, but Virginia rattled off the final six goals of the half to take control. That included a four-goal burst in a stretch the Tar Heels never managed to take possession.

The Tar Heels closed within 10-8 late in the third quarter, and Gray appeared poised to tie it after taking a crow hop on the way to the cage during an extra-man opportunity. But Rode made the save, and Virginia’s Payton Cormier beat goalie Collin Krieg (five saves) a minute later to re-establish a cushion.

North Carolina went 0 -for-5 in extra-man opportunities.