After our "Top 10 Heartbreakers" list from Wednesday, many here are likely in desperate need for some sort of therapy. Well here it is, as we look back at the best moments of 2011-2012. I'll readily admit that the bottom of this list is shaky, and surely not as emotionally evocative as the "bad" list...but we had some great moments this year. The list is pretty heavy on revenue sports, maybe because of a lack of real "signature moments" in sports like lacrosse, baseball, and tennis. Let's hear some of your favorite moments down in the comments. For now, here is a look back:
Coming into this weekend series against a top-25 team, Virginia baseball had been uninspiring. The team had lost 3 of its previous 6 series, including sweeps at the hands of Florida State and UNC, as it failed to play consistent baseball. But in an ESPN-televised three game series in Coral Gables, the Hoos really seemed to gel as a team, as it put together three games in which it hit, pitched, and played defense.
Before the three game set, UVA was likely destined for a postseason berth, but nothing was guaranteed. Days later, Virginia was a lock for the tournament, and the previously unforeseen possibility of hosting appeared on the horizon.
Playing Maryland in soccer is no fun at all. Every year, they bring a busload of College Park's worst creatures to Klockner Stadium to taunt our goalie and fight our fans. Luckily, they were punished in two ways this year. First, they had to ride back to College Park at the end of the game. Second, Will Bates's goal in the 84th minute gave the Wahoos a big early-season win over the previously undefeated and #2 ranked Terps.
This game, played right in the midst of Mike Scott-mania at UVA, did nothing to dispel the myth that he is a non-human basketball machine. Scott made all nine of the shots he took, with eight of those being mid-range jumpers, most well-contested. The game was basically singular proof that Mike Scott should have been ACC Player of the Year, as he scored his 19 points in just 26 minutes of very slow play. The team also had one of its best defensive performances, Joe Harris won us Raisin' Canes, fans made lots of funny signs, and the Hoos improved to 6-3 in the ACC.
In a performance that redefines the word "gritty," the Hoos outlasted the Terps in overtime, all but guaranteeing an NCAA Tournament bid. The end of the game had that "here we go again" feel to it, as the Hoos squandered an 8 point lead with under 5 minutes to play and barely made it to OT at all, as a Terrell Stoglin buzzer-beater three just missed. In overtime, Mike Scott, who finished the game with 35 points and 11 rebounds, willed the Hoos to victory.
The boxscore from this one is almost comical. Mike Scott, Sammy Zeglinski, and Jontel Evans all played over 40 minutes in a game that was a must-win. Though some disagreed with my assessment, the win likely sealed a spot in the NCAA Tournament and locked up a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament as well. For those wondering why the NCAA Selection Show didn't make this list...I am counting this game as Virginia's NCAA berth.
After a strong football season ended in a disappointing loss to the Hokies, Virginia fans were excited about the team's first bowl bid in four seasons and planning potential itineraries to Nashville, Charlotte, and the like. However, hours before the Bowl Selection Show, rumors began swirling that the Sugar Bowl was interested in selecting Virginia Tech to lose to Michigan. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl had the next pick and planned on selecting the Hoos over NC State and Florida State.
The selection to play in Atlanta was a pretty awesome surprise, and it was a great reward for a great season. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl is one of the most prestigious non-BCS Bowls, and, even though the result of the game wasn't the one we were hoping for, it is a great example of how the football program is turning the corner.
After a listless performance against NC State, the Hoos had a short week to prepare for their ESPN nationally televised matchup Thursday night in Miami. Fans couldn't be expecting much, especially considering UVA sports's propensity to lay eggs after entering the state of Florida. This night was different, as Mike London and Co. put together a performance to be proud of.
London came in with a perfect gameplan. Mike Rocco finally played the entire game and did a stellar job, but the team's running game remained in the forefront. The defense came up with big plays all night, including a gutty redzone stop to seal the win. And a couple well-timed trick plays swung momentum our way. The result was an upset win, setting off celebrations back in Charlottesville.
This may be a bit higher than people may expect; after all, some may argue, "it's only rowing!" However, I'd say that there is nothing more important than winning national championships. It's what separates us from the savages. Kevin Sauer has built up an elite program from scratch, and this season it established its spot at the top of the rowing world with its second NCAA title in 3 years. Bravo!
Virginia came off a bye week and defeated its first top-15 opponent since 2005, giving Wahoo fans everywhere their first glimmer of hope for last season's team. In the Homecomings game, UVA picked up its first ACC win of the season in style, shutting down Georgia Tech's pesky triple option offense and scoring just enough by simply pounding the ball on the ground. So what if rushing the field was lame? (Coach London did ask for it...) It was fun.
Before the basketball season, I had two games circled on my calendar. Home vs. UNC (read more about that on my list of the worst games of the year) and this one against Michigan. Not only was it a nationally televised game at home against a top-15 team, but it was an out-of-conference matchup vital to the Hoos' NCAA Tournament hopes. Beating the Wolverines in a near-perfect game at JPJ paid huge dividends, basically single-handedly carrying the team to the Big Dance.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle, and it appeared the game would go down to the wire. After halftime, however,Tony Bennett's defense completely shut down Michigan, as the Hoos used a 15-0 run on its way to a 70-58 victory. The crowd was loud, though the arena was far from its loudest. However, a different kind of energy existed, as it seemed \ fans began to sense that this team was a special one.
Ten games into the season, the Hoos somehow still controlled their own ACC Championship destiny; in fact, they were just 4 wins away from being crowned Orange Bowl champs. Still, thinking about a potential winner-take-all matchup against VPI was almost comical at that point, as UVA had never won a game in Tallahassee. But the Seminoles couldn't put away the Cavaliers, who jumped to a 7-0 lead and trailed by only 3 at the half. In a sloppy affair, UVA somehow kept Florida State out of the endzone, playing field position and keeping the score at 13-7.
Still, things looked bleak when the Noles drove into field goal range late in the 4th quarter. However, a Steve Greersack forced a punt, giving the Hoos one last drive. Five plays later, the Hoos were in the end zone, holding a 14-13 lead with 1:16 to play. Was it over? Not quite yet.... Instead, about 20 minutes of torture ensued. Remember how many times we thought we had this game won? The clock hit 0:00 a couple times before it was finally official and the Hoos left Tallahassee with an enormous win.
The victory would eventually lead to UVA's Chick-Fil-A bowl berth, but more immediately it resulted in some raucous celebrations in C-Ville. Fight songs blasting, Good Old Songs sung from balconies, high fives for strangers, yelling in the streets. Isn't that what college sports are all about? Wahoowa!