#6: 2009 – Men’s Soccer Team wins National Championship on PKs
It’s crazy to think one of the four National Championships of the decade rests at No. 6, especially in a sport with such a global appeal, but this is America, so it ends up here. Just a few weeks ago Virginia completed its rise back to national dominance by beating Akron 0-0, 3-2 PKs. We could breakdown the season again and talk about Virginia’s 19-3-3 overall record, the ACC Championship, and the 6th NCAA title, but that not why it landed this high.
UVa used to be the gold standard of Men’s Soccer in America. Years before the Major Soccer League, all of America’s great soccer players would come out of the college ranks. And from 1989-1995, Virginia was one of those colleges. winning the title 5 times. UVa produced players like Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna, the Agoos brothers, and coach Bruce Arena, who went on to become the US National coach for several World Cups.
Secondly, this pick is based on promise, which we dub “Obama Nobel Prize Status”, because if they can give a Nobel Prize for Obama for doing nothing, we can give this slot to the Men’s Soccer team. UVa is very young and returns a majority of its starters and reserves next year and in 2011. A chance for multiple national titles is a real possibility.
#5: 2007 – Men’s Football Season
We break into the top five with a pick not based on a moment, but numerous moments. As we were putting this list together, three of the first five games mentioned all came from the 2007 Football season. Instead giving them separate numbers, we combined all of them into this slot. This football season was one where every break seemed to go our way. To quantify how close the games were for “The Cardiac Cavs” all season, the Hoos were 17 points away from turning a 9-3 season with a Gator Bowl invitation into a 2-10 season with a possible coaching change. Let’s look at all the close calls of 2007:
Virginia 22, North Carolina 20: UVa needed an undergrad student and a two point conversion stop to win this contest. One of Groh’s student assistants aptly ran up to him and told him to challenge the call that the ball did not go through the goal posts for a field goal. Two refs both missed the call but was rightfully overturned. Well UVa gave up the lead and with 0:22 seconds left scored a touchdown to get within two points. UVa stops them and recovers the onside kick.
Virginia 28, Georgia Tech 23: Death, taxes, and UVa beating Georgia Tech at home. From 1992 to 2009, Georgia Tech always lost to the Hoos in Charlottesville. Virginia went up early in this game and lead 21-7 at half, but “2nd half Hoos” showed up and Tech rattled off 16 straight points to take a 23-21. But when Georgia Tech muffed a punt, Virginia took over on Tech’s 35-yard line and Jameel Sewell found Stanton Jobe for the game winning touchdown with 1:31 to go. Tech stalled their last drive and the Hoos were victorious.
Virginia 23, Middle Tennessee State 21: This one should not have been close. But UVa took their road team to Murfreesboro. A Chris Gould extra point miss early in the fourth and a touchdown by MTSU left the score 21-20. But Gould redeemed himself with 0:08 showing on the clock by connecting on a 34-yard field goal and securing the win.
Virginia 17, Connecticut 16: Another game. Another blown lead. Another Chris Gould field goal with 3:20 to go in the fourth for the 3rd comeback of the season.
Virginia 18, Maryland 17: This was the “Chris Long 4 Heisman” and the “Mikell Simpson coming out party”. After Maryland went up 17-10, Chris Long sacked Chris Turner in the end zone as the third quarter came to a close. After two punts, UVa went on what is considered to be the “Drive of the Decade”. Fifteen plays, 90 yards, 7:26 time-of-possession ended with a Mikell Simpson 1-yard run with 16 seconds left. On the day Simpson had 119 yards on the ground and 152 yards in the air on his most productive game of his career.
Virginia 17, Wake Forest 16: How do you follow up a heartbreaking loss to NC State? By watching the best kicker in the country miss a game winning 47-yard field goal. Virginia. . .AGAIN. . . took the lead on a Mikell Simpson 1-yard TD run with 3:20 to go. As Wake slowly drove the field, the collective will of everyone in the stadium pushed Swank’s attempt just right of the goal post.
Virginia 48, Miami 0: I know this wasn’t a close game but talk about showing up for a road game. On top of that “The U…it’s all about the U” was closing down the Orange Bowl and invited everyone back to see Miami whip up on Virginia. Whoops!
Texas Tech 31, Virginia 28: Well the luck had to run out soon. In the biggest comeback (or choke depending on how you look at it), Texas Tech behind Harrell and Crabtree scored 17 points in the last 3:32 of the game to pull off the upset. UVa ended up 9-4 on the season and Al Groh won ACC Coach of the Year.
#4: 2001, 2007- Men’s Basketball vs. Duke
UVa Men’s Basketball team had varying success this decade, starting with Pete Gilliam, continuing to Dave Leitao, and ending with Tony Bennett. Virginia did however make it to 2 NCAA tournaments and it just so happen to coordinate with victories over a common opponent.
The name just sounds like a curse word. To hate a team that routinely rolls through the ACC and the NCAA tournament should be considered criminal. But any chance to put those overconfident boys from North Carolina in their place is revered ‘round these parts.
We beat them twice this decade, and in dramatic fashion.
#12 Virginia 91, #3 Duke 89 (2001)
The Cavaliers enjoyed unprecedented early season success, climbing to #3 in the nation after an amazing win in the Jimmy V classic over Tennessee. But UVa found hardship in the ACC, dropping 6 of their first 11 games, and with Duke coming to town, things were not looking up for the Hoos. With future NBA standouts in Carlos Boozer, Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Mike Dunleavy, and Chris Duhon, Duke was the odds-on favorite to win the NCAA championship, which they did. But on this day, it seemed that the Gods favored Virginia.
Virginia took a 46-42 into half after shooting 52.8% from the field and 37.5% from behind the arc. But Duke used the entire second half to chip away at the lead and over the last 5 minutes, Duke and Virginia exchanged the lead 4 times. With 14.3 seconds to go, Adam Hall fouled Shane Battier, who calmly sank his two free throws. This gave Virginia the last shot. Roger Mason dribbled up the court and found a streaking Adam Hall for a layup with 0.9 seconds left. Duke’s last full court pass came up short and UVa broke a 12-game losing streak against the Blue Devils. Adam Hall was the star of the evening with 17 points and Chris Williams had a quiet 21 point, 12 rebound, and 4 block night. This was one of the biggest wins at home . . . until Duke came back in 2007.
Virginia 68, #8 Duke 66 (OT)
New cast. New coach. New stadium. Sean Singletary was on the verge of becoming the best point guard in UVa history since John Crotty manned the position in late 80s. But his legacy needed a defining moment. He got that in this game.
UVa was down 8 points with 2 minutes to go in regulation, but J.R. Reynolds made up the difference and Sean Singletary made the tying jumper to send it to overtime. In the overtime period the teams went back and forth and UVa ended up with the ball with the last shot. In what is considered the most impressive shot of his career, Sean Singletary shot a one-handed lob shot falling away to win the game. UVa retired his number 44 the next year, becoming only the second player in 25 years (Bryant Stith) to have that honor.