Well, the holiday season is almost over, and that can only mean one thing..."Best of 2014" lists! The year 2014 was very kind to the Cavaliers, so in lieu of your usual 'Monday Motivation', I'm giving you the most motivational Monday you've ever experienced. Hopefully this will help cure you of any leftover holiday hangover.
Before I get into the "honorable mentions" (aka Nos.17-11), let me express to you Wahoo faithful just how difficult creating this list was. Please feel free to leave your own list in the comments, or share one of your favorite moments I may have missed.
Let's do this.
Women's Rowing Wins ACC Championship- The Virginia Women's Rowing team dominated the competition yet again, winning their fifth straight ACC Championship by way of sweeping all four races. The Hoos finished with 80 points, 13 ahead of Notre Dame, their closest competition. In fact, the Cavaliers defeated the Irish in three of the four final races, with the fourth victory over the Syracuse Orange. On top of the team title, the UVA Varsity 8 team were named the ACC Crew of the Year. Not. Too. Shabby.
The Virginia/Pitt Block Party- This trio of blocks is spectacular, especially the triple block in the three spot (yikes...that's a trifecta of threes). You really can't make any list that doesn't include this. I mean, come on. Three defenders. Zero fouls. One mega block. Just enjoy it. The final block by Justin Anderson (and one of my favorite moments with the following arms up) solidified the win that sent the Hoos to the ACC Tourney finals.
Women's Soccer College Cup- For the second year in a row, the Cavaliers rolled into the College Cup with a 2-1 victory over the then-reigning NCAA Champion UCLA Bruins. The win broke the Bruins' 44 game unbeaten streak, including an impressive 27 straight at home. Emily Sonnett and Morgan Brian scored for the Hoos.
Men's Lacrosse Takes Down Hopkins- In a hotly contested overtime victory, Dom Starsia's lacrosse team brought the Doyle Smith Cup back to its rightful place in Charlottesville. The Hoos trailed 10-8 going into the fourth quarter and needed some last minute heroics from first year Ryan Lukacovic who scored the last two goals to tie the game and send it to overtime. Greg Coholan won the game for Virginia with his third goal of the game. First year goalie Matt Barrett wowed between the pipes with 16 saves. The win over Hopkins was the first since 2010.
Sweet Sixteen at Madison Square Garden- It's hard to include a loss, but Virginia was a bucket short of the Elite 8 against a TOUGH Michigan State team.
The Quin Blanding Phenomenon- There weren't many highlights this football season, but man was first year safety Quin Blanding something else. He finished first on the team in tackles with 123 (60 solo, 63 assisted), grabbed three interceptions, broke up six passes, and one sack. His efforts earned him the following accolades: Scout.com National Defensive Rookie of the Year, Scout.com Freshman All-American, ESPN.com Freshman All-American, Sporting News True Freshman All-American, USA Today Freshman All-American, Phil Steele Freshman All-American, 247Sports True Freshman All-American, ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year, ACC Coaches Defensive Rookie of the Year, All-ACC Second Team, and All-ACC Coaches Second Team. Whew. Did you catch all that?
Hoos Number One- This video says it all.
The Top Ten:
10. Morgan Brian. The woman. The myth. The legend. There isn't much that Morgan Brian hasn't done. In her time at Virginia, she scored 41 goals and added 43 assists. Her senior season, while splitting time with the U.S. Women's National Team, Morgan put up 10 goals and 14 assists en route to Virginia's second College Cup in two years. For the USWNT, Brian played in 13 games, starting nine, and scored two goals as the only collegiate player on the roster during the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. Don't forget the name. I have a feeling she's not done yet.
9. Men's Basketball Crushes Harvard, 76-27. There have been some great games already this season for the Hoos, but the 21 December drubbing of the Crimson was something for the history books. In a sell-out, Virginia dominated from start to finish, holding Harvard to just one sad, lonely, field goal in the first half en route to a 39-8 halftime score. Mike Tobey did whatever he wanted for 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Malcolm Brogdon added 15 points of his own to go with six rebounds, six assists, one block, and a steal. Harvard's 16% shooting percentage for the game was an ACC record, and the one field goal in the first half tied an NCAA record.
8. Joe Harris (#SWOON) Drafted. With the 33rd pick of the 2014 Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected the one and only Joe Harris. All of the swoons.
7. ACC Tennis Champions. Both the Men's and Women's teams brought home the hardware in the ACC this year. For the men's team, it was their eighth consecutive title. Brad Boland's guys have won a staggering 121 straight ACC matchups. On the other side of the house, it was the women's first ACC Championship in what was a phenomenal 2014 season. After winning the ACC Tourney, the ladies went on to make the NCAA Quarterfinals before falling to Stanford.
6. Baseball Back to the College World Series. Getting to the College World Series is sweet no matter what. Know what makes it sweeter? Dog-piling after your victory over former conference foe Maryland in your last matchup with them, at your field, in a deciding game three. That's exactly what Virginia did, defeating the Terps 11-2 behind seven scoreless innings from Josh Sborz. Kenny Towns went 3-4 at the plate with four RBIs, and Daniel Pinero went 2-3 with 2 RBIs of his own. As a team, Virginia knocked 13 hits while only striking out three times. In the CWS, Virginia took down Ole Miss, TCU, Ole Miss (again), before falling in heartbreaking fashion to Vanderbilt in the final game. First the CWS, then the CWS Finals...next time the whole thing.
Until then, enjoy beating Maryland, over and over again.
"Omaha. 1186. yes! The Hoos are going back to the World Series!"
5. Canaan Severin and the Fly Paper. Again. Not a lot of highlights from this season, but holy cow. What. A. Catch. This grab was good enough for No.2 on ESPN's SportsCenter's Top Ten.
"Fly paper baby! How 'bout that!"
4. Regular Season ACC Champs. When the schedule first came out, there can't be many 'experts' that thought the March 1st matchup between Syracuse and Virginia would decide who sat atop the ACC. The same holds doubly true following Virginia's un-impressive non-conference slate. However, there we were. One game. Two oranges. One winner. In typical 2014 UVA fashion, Joe Harris and Co. played a close game before pulling away with a Cavalanche in the second half to win by a decisive 75-56 final. John Paul Jones Arena was louder than ever before, and it was a sweet sight seeing Tony Bennett climb that ladder and cut down the nets. But...was anything sweeter than that Thomas Rogers three-pointer?
3. Danielle Collins. National Champion. As mentioned above, the 2014 season for the Women's Tennis team was one for the record books. That didn't stop with the team competition. Second year Danielle Collins, a transfer from Florida, shocked the field with six straight victories en route to an NCAA Singles Championship. Collins took down No.43 Veronica Corning (Northwestern), No.18 Annet Schutting (Cal.), No.2 Robin Anderson (UCLA), No.7 Hayley Carter (UNC), and No.27 Ester Goldfield (Duke) before defeating No.24 Lynn Chi (Cal.) 6-2, 7-5 for Virginia's first NCAA women's singles title. Fun fact, no Virginia women's player had made it past the NCAA round of 16. Congrats, Danielle!
2. Men's Soccer. National Champions. For the seventh time in Virginia Men's Soccer history, the Cavaliers hoisted the trophy over their heads. In a defensive gem of a game, the Hoos neutralized UCLA and emerged victorious in penalty kicks. While some, including UCLA's head coach, were not stoked about Coach Gelnovatch's defense-first strategy, it was a strategy that was executed flawlessly. Riggs Lennon stroked home the game winning penalty kick, and the 21st National Championship celebration started in Cary and Charlottesville simultaneously. Well done, Hoos. We applaud you.
1. ACC Tournament Champions. As the final seconds expired and Justin Anderson made his rounds of the court handing out high fives to his teammates, the Virginia fans could finally let out a long sigh of relief. For only the second time, and the first time since 1976, the Hoos were ACC Tournament Champions. Brogdon was impressive with 23 points, and tourney MVP Joe Harris added 15 of his own. JPJ South was rocking when Harris drilled that late three. It's hard to put into words the experience of the confetti falling in Greensboro. Enjoy the highlights, and I'm pretty sure someone started chopping onions near the end...
I hope you enjoyed this walk down 2014 memory lane. Happy Monday, and go Hoos.