It was roller coaster year for a number of Virginia athletics teams, filled with miraculous victories that would be immediately followed up by unthinkably terrible defeats. Some of the low points from the past year have already been documented, but don't you think for a second that we here at Streaking the Lawn are a pessimistic bunch. We have compiled, for your reading pleasure, ten of the best moments spanning from the football field, to the tennis courts, and beyond.
Now, remember, the rankings were assembled through my personal viewpoint, as I considered numerous factors in the decision process. Some of the criteria included the element of upset, the significance of the moment, the ever-so-important "wow factor," and overall excitement of being at the event. That being said, I'm sure there will be some differing opinions amongst the Wahoo faithful, so don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Let's dive right in, shall we? Here are the 10 best UVA sports moments from the 2012-2013 school year.
It's important to remember the stakes of this regular-season finale for the Hoos. Less than two weeks earlier, the team toppled the mighty Duke Blue Devils and were practically a shoe-in for the NCAA Tournament. But after two straight brutal losses on the road to Boston College and Florida State, their postseason picture suddenly became extremely hazy. One more loss to a subpar team and the Cavaliers were essentially NIT-bound. That's when the Maryland Terrapins rolled into JPJ Arena.
And then the Hoos fell behind by 17 in the first half. Yikes. But a massive comeback effort was led by the post-play of Akil Mitchell, the timely three-point shooting of Joe "Swoon" Harris, and the heroic last-second efforts of freshman Mike Tobey when it counted most. Tobey sent the game into overtime with a big time bucket with just 3 seconds to go, and the Hoos hung on to earn a ACC tourney bye and keep their tournament bubble afloat. A wild win at JPJ comes in at number 10.
You started to get a feel that this could be a special season for the UVA baseball team after its hot start that brought them into the month of April. In a matchup against Old Dominion, the Hoos fell behind 7-2, and battled their way back the entire game. Down four in the ninth, breakout star Mike Papi delivered the goods with a towering, game-tying grand slam that sent the game into extra innings.
The fun wasn't over though. Virginia overcome another deficit in the tenth when Jared King mashed in the game-winning run on a walk-off single, and UVA snuck past the Monarchs in spectacular style. I like to think that this game was sweet revenge for the crushing defeat the basketball team suffered to ODU in December, but that may be wishful thinking.
Seriously, is there anything better than beating the
Twerps Terps? I sure will miss our shell-backed friends from College Park as they venture into the Big 10 next year.
The women's soccer team toppled the Terrapins on one of the biggest stages of their season, shutting out Maryland 4-0 to claim UVA's second ACC championship. Remember, Virginia was only the 5-seed in the tournament, so their run was definitely a pleasant surprise for Wahoo fans. Five UVA players made the all-ACC tournament team, including tournament MVP Morgan Brian.
The men's basketball team had heard it all year long. Beat a ranked team and you'll get some recognition. Despite wins over big-time programs Wisconsin and UNC earlier in the season, Virginia still had not knocked off a Top 25 school. In came the 19th ranked Wolfpack to a packed house at JPJ.
It wasn't easy, as the team trailed most of the game. But everyone's favorite Wahoo Joe Harris led the way with 22 points and got some help off the bench from an unlikely source in Mike Tobey, his first big game for the Hoos. Finally, analysts were starting to chirp about UVA as a potential dark horse in the ACC. But sadly, NC State got the last laugh. We won't go there. Happy thoughts, people.
There were some baseball pundits who wondered if this young, surprising UVA baseball team could handle the stiff competition of the ACC's finest. When the 5th ranked Seminoles visited Charlottesville in April, everyone got to see first-hand what this team was made of.
Timely hitting and shut-down relief from the likes of Kyle Crockett was the recipe for the Hoos all weekend, as they brought out the brooms to sweep Florida State out of town in three games. Despite a disappointing end of the season for Virginia, the team certainly has plenty to be optimistic about heading into next year, as exhibited in games like these all season long.
Well, let's say this. If you didn't know who Sam Ficken was before this game, you certainly did after.
The Nittany Lions' kicker had a brutal game, missing an extra point and four field goals, including a chance to win the game for Penn State with one second remaining. As the kick darted left of the goal post, Scott Stadium was sent into bedlam.
Of course, the win would not have been possible without the efforts of UVA tight end Jake McGee, who made a circus catch on the game-winning drive only to haul in the game-winning touchdown pass minutes later. Insane.
For those who don't know, I was a first year at Virginia this past year, so this was just my second sports game I had ever attended. The stadium was packed, the ESPN cameras were rolling, and the adrenaline was definitely flowing in the stands. Easily one of the most exciting ends to a football game I had ever seen. Little did I know that this wouldn't even be the best football finish of the year (nice cliffhanger, right?)
In one turned out to be a banner year for the men's tennis team, Brian Boland's squad captured a remarkable milestone in a match versus the Clemson Tigers. Virginia won their 100th straight ACC match, an incredible streak that last saw the Hoos lose in ACC play back in 2006 versus Duke. THAT'S SEVEN YEARS. That, my friends, is dominance.
But the tennis team was not finished by any means. We'll see them come up later in this list.
In a back and forth contest against the Hurricanes, Michael Rocco (remember him? Me nieither) led the team down the field for one final chance to pull off a win. Enter Jake McGee. Set the clock at 10 seconds remaining. Lights, camera, action.
The high-flying tight end soared up, Dwight Clarke style, in the back of the end zone and managed to get a foot inbounds for a highlight reel touchdown to seal the deal for Virginia. An amped-up Mike London ran to the student section and beckoned the crowd to storm the field. And storm the field they did. An unbelievable finish to a wild game.
This game was so great in so many ways. Just consider all of the awesome elements.
It was Virginia's first win over a top-5 team in eleven years, and their first win over Duke in six years. It was Joe Harris' coming-out party to the country, as he dropped 36 points on the big stage and made it look easy at times. It was UVA's long-awaited "signature win" on the tournament resumé, and elevated them to the top story all over national sports talk shows. Of course, there was a mob of students that swarmed around the court, hoisting the players in the air, and then there was a cranky Coach K complaining to the media about the dangers of court-storming. So damn awesome. If only for one night, UVA was on top of the sports world. What moment could possibly be better than this?
You didn't forget about the men's tennis team, did you? It was Virginia's only national championship of the year, after all. And it could not have come in more dramatic, memorable fashion.
With the overall championship tied at three matches each, UVA sophomore Mitchell Frank was battling his UCLA foe in the third and final set in hopes of capturing Virginia's first ever NCAA championship title. Facing match point, it appeared that Frank had lost on a hard-hit volley that Frank couldn't return. However, the Bruins player nicked the net with his foot, and the umpire awarded the point to UVA, and Frank didn't blink twice. He stormed back to win the game and the set 7-5 to propel Virginia to victory.
And while there may not have been stands packed with rabid Virginia fans, and the match wasn't viewed by the masses, it still serves as the lasting image and number one moment for UVA sports in 2012-2013 because of the overall importance, excitement, and intensity of the match. But man, it's close.