2019 was a special year for the Virginia Cavaliers.
From the very people that created this so-called “Golden Age” to the heart-wrenching plays that made us question our respective sanities to, yes, even that one blog post (where bourbon may or may not have been involved). Indeed, for many, this will be a year that is not soon forgotten.
So, as we prepare for the next chapter of Virginia sports in 2020, is there a better time to reflect on this magical run?
Starting today, Streaking The Lawn will count down the 30 greatest moments of the year (and, believe me, there are far more than 30), as we embark on one more journey down 2019’s memory lane. Fortunately, now that you know the end results, this time around shouldn’t be as emotionally draining.
Let’s kick things off with 30-25.
30. Kyle Guy Goes Behind-The-Back
Remember that second round game? You know, the one that didn’t create constant anxiety? When the highlight was a cheeky Kyle Guy pass to Braxton Key (pictured below) that gave the Cavaliers a 15-point lead with 5:30 remaining?
Ah, simpler times.
29. NFL Hoos Score Touchdowns (x3)
Week 13 of the NFL’s regular season saw two former Cavaliers stars, Juan Thornhill (‘15-’18) of the Chiefs and Anthony Harris (‘11-’14) of the Vikings, record their first-career touchdowns, with both taking interceptions back to the opposition’s end zone. Then, just one week later, Olamide Zaccheaus (‘15-’18) joined that duo by taking his first professional catch 93 yards for the score.
In many ways, this quick succession of highlight plays serve as a microcosm for what’s been a more noticeable UVA presence in the NFL in 2019.
Virginia field hockey reached the NCAA tournament semifinals this past season for the first time since 2010. They got there with wins over Delaware, 5-1, and Maryland, who they had lost to in the regular season, 1-0 in overtime. Sophomore Annie McDonough provided the game-winner against the Terrapins off of a deflection.
Though the Hoos would go on to lose to Princeton in the next round, their appearance in the national semifinals gave UVA a third program in the calendar year - that number would eventually become four - to advance at least that far.
Alums Sean Doolittle and Ryan Zimmerman played important roles in the Washington Nationals’ crazy run to the World Series title. Through four postseason series, Zimmerman, otherwise known as “Mr. National” for being the first player ever selected by the club, batted .255 with seven RBI’s, while Doolittle posted an ERA of 1.74.
Of course, much like the rest of this year, the Nationals’ improbable journey was “a little bit nerve wracking,” Virginia baseball head coach Brian O’Connor told the Daily Progress.
Did we need any more reason to believe that Tony Bennett’s greatness goes far beyond the basketball court?
No. But we got some anyway.
It happened on Sep. 15, when the university published a story explaining how the head coach, after winning a national title, had declined a pay raise. No, instead of accepting, Bennett asked athletic director Carla Williams to allocate those funds towards the rest of his staff. And, to go even further, he and his wife Laurel also initiated the development of a career-development program, which will be available to all men’s basketball players of past and present, by pledging $500,000 towards the cause.
Yet another reminder of why we are so lucky to have this man in Charlottesville.
Joe Harris, a star for UVA from 2010-2014, outlasted Buddy Hield and Steph Curry (yes, that Steph Curry) in the competition’s final round to win the 2019 Mountain Dew 3-Point Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend.
It was a moment Harris, who ended with the best three-point shooting percentage in the league last season (.474), will not soon forget.
“For me to come in and win on my first time, it’s surreal,” he said. “It’s been an honor for me to be here, for me to participate this weekend.”
Stay tuned as we continue our countdown tomorrow with moments 24-20!