I hope everyone had a great holiday vacation. While it was nice to take some time off to relax and eat way too much, it’s back to work around here. We have been hinting at it for a little while now, and now we are ready for our decade ending review of UVa sports. Over the next week we will be counting down the ten best moments, teams, games, and events from the past ten years.
Before we start, let’s talk about the criteria that went into our decisions. First off we considered the overall impact that the moment had on not just the UVa community, but on the national landscape as well. Obviously, the higher revenue sports garnered more attention on the countdown, but postseason appearances and national championships played an important part as well. Lastly, we asked if this event would have a lasting impact past this decade. And after weeks and weeks of debate, we are ready to present our top ten moments of the 2000s.
#10: 2003 – Virginia 35, Virginia Tech 21 (Heath Miller Fake Field Goal)
It wasn’t the best decade for UVa in our annual football rivalry with Tech. The final scorecard: Virginia Tech 9, Virginia 1. And when you only beat them once, it’s easy to pick the one that makes the countdown.
The game started like most of them this decade, with UVa down 14-7. But behind Matt Schaub, who threw two touchdown passes, and Wali Lundy, who ran for three scores and caught one more, the Hoos scored 21 straight points in the second half, twice converting on fourth down from the 1 to win 35-21.
Two big events happened in this game of note. First with his two touchdown passes, Mat Schaub tied Shawn Moore for first on UVa’s all time touchdown list with 55. It was the only record he did not own and, with his ACC Player of the Year Award the previous season, it cemented his legacy in Wahoo lore. But more impressive was Heath Miller. He caught 13 passes for 145, but none more important than the 10-yard pass on a fake field goal with about three minutes left which gave Virginia a first down keeping the drive alive for Lundy’s 19-yard touchdown on the next play to clinch it.
UVa went on to finish 8-5 on the season with a win over Pittsburgh in the Tire Bowl and had one of the better seasons of the decade.
#9: 2004 – Women’s Lacrosse Finally Breakthroughs and Wins National Title
The UVa Women’s Lacrosse team enjoyed regular season success throughout the decade, making it to the NCAA tournament 8 times. But when they got there they always ran into a road block and exited early. After making to the finals in 2003 and losing 8-7 to Princeton, the women made it a mission the next season to get back to the championship.
But Princeton was on a mission of their own. They knew that the finals were being played on their home field that season and they tore through the regular season determined to win back-to-back titles. Meanwhile, Virginia was enjoying their own success, going 15-3 on the season and winning the ACC title again.
When UVa got to the finals, they went on a tear, beating Mount St. Mary’s 19-2 and Northwestern (who went on to win a handful of titles this decade) 15-11. In the semis, Virginia beat Georgetown 12-9, setting up a UVa/Princeton matchup in the finals. What was supposed to be a great game was anything but. The Wahoos triumphed 10-4 and wrapped up their third national title and first since 1993.
UVa would go back to the finals one more time this decade, but lost to Northwestern 12-9. But UVa enjoyed continued success all decade and won one of only four NCAA Championships the Hoos would win this decade.
#8: Bowl Games (2002 Continental Tire Bowl, 2003 Continental Tire Bowl, 2005 Music City Bowl)
Virginia got blown out in the first two bowl games this decade, 63-21 to Illinois in the Micron.pc Bowl and 37-14 to Georgia in the Jeep O’ahu Bowl. After dropping their last four bowl games, UVa was not considered to have what it took to win another post season appearance.
2002 – Virginia 48, West Virginia 22 (2002 Continental Tire Bowl)
UVa did not make a bowl game after the 2001 season after going 5-7, Virginia bounced back in 2002 with a 8-5 record and earned an invitation to the newly founded Tire Bowl in Charlotte. Going up against the #18 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3), the Hoos were huge underdogs. Virginia did not pay attention to any of this and Wali Lundy used the game as his coming out party. Lundy ran for 127 and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 76 yards and two more touchdowns. Lundy went on in his career to set the ACC mark for most touchdowns scored. On a side note, after a halftime show depicting WVU fans and a stereotype of inter-marriage, this was the last time the UVa Pep Band ever performed at a Virginia Athletic event in an official capacity.
2003 – Virginia 23, Pittsburgh 16 (2003 Continental Tire Bowl)
Virginia went 7-5 in 2003 and went back to Charlotte looking for back-to-back titles in the Tire Bowl. This time they were underdogs again to a Pittsburgh team looking to send Heisman-Trophy runner-up Larry Fitzgerald off in style. He had broken the consecutive games with a touchdown record earlier that year and had extended it to 18 games coming into the post-season contest. This time the defense won the game for the Cavs. Not only did Virginia break Fitzgerald’s streak, but also stopped the Panthers four times on the 1 on the first series of the game and sacked Pittsburgh’s quarterback on a fourth-and-ten late in the second quarter. Two touchdowns, one 52 yards from Shaub to Miller, and three field goals was all that was needed to secure the win.
2005 – Virginia 34, Minnesota 31 (2005 Music City Bowl)
A heartbreaking loss in 2004 at the MPC Computers Bowl to Fresno State 37-34 and another mediocre 7-5 season sent UVa to the Music City Bowl to go up against Minnesota and their future NFL running back Laurence Maroney. On top of that, 4 Virginia assistant coaches including Al Golden and Ron Prince, all left before the bowl game. The Wahoos, a little discombobulated, let Minnesota jump to a 21-7 lead. The score was 21-10 at half after Hagans led the team downfield and set up a Conner Hughes field goal as time expired in the half.
Minnesota had every opportunity to put this game away, but the nation’s #5 offense started to fall apart after taking a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter. Senior Marques Hagans led drives of 75 and 77 yards, threw for 358 yards on the day, and pulled out a rare 2nd half comeback to win 34-31.
#7: 2007, 2008, 2009 – Men’s Tennis (Somdev Devvaman wins back-to-back NCAA titles)
A funny thing happened on the way to the stadium. When your football and basketball team aren’t very good, you start grasping for any positive story line. And for the Hoos from 2007-2009, Men’s Tennis was taking over the student body as well as the local papers. A young man from India burst on to the college tennis scene by the name of Somdev Devvaman.
He wasn’t just good, he was amazing. During his 3rd and 4th years, he had a combined record of 44-1. The last college player to amass a record even close to that was another unknown tennis player in the 1970s playing for UCLA by the name of Jimmy Connors.
In addition to being ranked #1 in singles, the UVa team was ranked #1 from 2007-2008. In this decade UVa won the ITA Indoor Tennis Title twice in 2008 and 2009, advanced to the NCAA semis three times, losing to Georgia twice and Baylor once, and captured a NCAA Doubles Title with Dominic Inglot and Michael Shabaz.