In case you were wondering, here’s what last year’s cream of the crop looked like:
5. Men’s Swimming and Diving
ACC Record: 6-0
Overall Record: 8-2
Deepest Run: Second out of 11th place in ACC Championships; 16th out of 39th place in NCAA Championships
Top Trophies: ACC Championship runner-up; ACC Champions in 200 breaststroke, 100 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 800 free relay team, and individual medley sweep
Thoughts: After winning eight straight ACC Championships (that’s right, eight straight), the men’s swim team finally came up a bit short by finishing second to long-time runner-up FSU. While not securing that title hurts ‘em on this list, we’re not going to hold past success against this team. The regular season sweep and title, second place in the ACC Championships, and finishing in the top half of the NCAAs? This program is still among the UVa elite.
4. Men’s Soccer
ACC Record: 5-3 (.625)
Overall Record: 18-3-1 (.818)
Deepest Run: NCAA Tournament Semifinals; ACC Tournament Semifinals
Top Trophies: ACC Regular Season Co-champion; No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament; one second team selection for NSCAA All-American team; one first team selection for NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region team and College Soccer News All-American team; one selection for Soccer America MVP; two second team selections and one third team nod for NSCAA regional team; one first team pick and three second team selections for All-ACC team; one selection for All-ACC Freshmen team
Thoughts: Let’s create the “Final Four” rule now and get it over with. As in, if you get to your Final Four, then you’re in the upper crust of these rankings. I know that not all Final Fours are created equally, as it’s less impressive to reach the semifinals in tournaments with fewer competitors. Regardless, we’re still talking about a win away from the National Championship game. And these men were on the doorstep of the big stage in a medium sized field of 48 teams.
The team also had an impressive regular season, which brought another championship for this program, as a prelude to an even more impressive postseason run that included being in the Final Four and falling a couple penalty kicks shy of the ACC title game. Plus, check out all that other hardware. A fine trophy case for the 2007 season. And that’s what this list is all about – filling that trophy case. For that, these guys were the fourth best program last year.
3. Women’s Lacrosse
ACC Record: 3-2 (.600)
Overall Record: 19-4 (.826)
Deepest Run: NCAA Tournament Finals; ACC Champion
Top Trophies: NCAA Champion runner-up; ACC Champion; No. 4 seed in NCAA Tournament; IWLCA South Region Coach of the Year; Tewaaraton Trophy Semifinalist; ACC Rookie of the Year; two first team selections and one second team nod for IWLCA All-American team; three first team picks and one second team selection for IWLCA South All-Regional team
Thoughts: Another team that triggers the Final Four rule. In fact, these ladies did reached the NCAA title game (off a miraculous come-from-behind victory in the semifinals against Duke). These Cavs boast a superb résumé that deserves to be near the top of these rankings. Amazingly, however, there were better programs – as the imperfect record drags these women down a bit. But enough downplaying this amazing team and its amazing year. The fact that such an impressive season only lands these ladies at No. 3 shows the depth of Virginia athletics. An ACC Championship, the NCAA runner-up, multiple All-Americans. These women had one helluva year.
2. Men’s Tennis
ACC Record: 11-0 (1.00)
Overall Record: 28-3 (.903)
Deepest Run: NCAA Tournament Semifinals; ACC Regular Season Champion; ACC Tournament Champion
Top Trophies: NCAA Singles Champion; ACC Champion; ACC Regular Season Champion, No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament; ITA National Player of the Year; two selections for All-ACC team
Thoughts: A Final Four appearance. ACC Champions. Undefeated ACC record and regular season champs. And, just for fun, the top athlete in all of the ACC (in my opinion) throws in an individual National Championship and ITA National Player of The Year Award of his own. Coach Brian Boland has created a juggernaut and shows no signs of letting up.
Though these Cavs didn’t get to the ultimate stage like the women’s lacrosse team, the men’s tennis team finishes slightly higher on this list because of that singles championship and the regular season title. Admittedly, the women lacrosse team will never be able to send their best player into an individual tournament for the top prize in the land, and that’s certainly an advantage for the programs that can do so when it comes to placement on this list. Nevertheless, we’ve got to make distinctions, and an individual national championship trumps an appearance in the national championship game, especially when assisted by a perfect regular season and title.
Despite this dominating season, men’s tennis still didn’t reach first place on this list. For such a season to be the second best says it all about the impressive state of Wahoo athletics. But first place had to be reserved for …
1. Women’s Rowing
Key Results: NCAA Championship runner-up; South/Central Regional Champions; ACC Champions; won 11 of 12 races at ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Top Trophies: National Champions in Varsity 4; ACC Champion; Two first team selections and one second team nod for CRCA Pocock All-America team; five selections for All-ACC team; Virginia First Varsity 8+ named ACC Crew of the Year; ACC Coach of the Year; ACC Freshman of the Year
Thoughts: An absolutely dominating season for this crew team – and from a land-locked school to boot (I know, I know, geographic location is irrelevant for the rankings). But what else is new for these women? They delivered an ACC Championship, an NCAA Championship runner-up finish, a national championship win for one of their crews, and a first place (or very close) finish in almost every meet. They absolutely dominated the ACC awards as well. Men’s tennis had an individual national championship. Women’s lacrosse was the national champ runner-up as a team. The trophy case for women’s crew boasts both of those accomplishments – making this team the jewel of the Wahoo crown last year, standing out even among some very impressive UVa programs.
There’s a lot of dispute over whether men’s tennis should have been in the top spot, but let’s just say it was very very close.