A look at some of Virginia’s greatest teams of all time

sp-LacrosseStarsia-CourtesyUniversityofVirginia

The 2006 Virginia men's lacrosse team coached by Dom Starsia is considered one of the best collegiate lacrosse teams of all time. 

Courtesy University of Virginia | Cavalier Daily

There is no shortage of accolades to describe the success that Virginia sports teams have achieved throughout the years. With numerous NCAA Titles, ACC Championships and impressive regular season records, the Cavaliers have produced some very special teams over the years. This week, the CD Sports staff makes its picks for the greatest Virginia sports team of all time. 

2012-13 men’s tennis

There have been some incredible Virginia sports teams throughout the years, but it’s hard to argue against the 2012-13 men’s tennis team as the cream of the crop. That year, Virginia went undefeated throughout the entire season, compiling an unbelievable 30-0 record, dominating teams en route to an ITA National Team Indoor Championship, ACC Tournament Championship and NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship. To make it even sweeter, it was the program’s first national championship ever, and has spawned a golden era of men’s tennis for the Cavaliers, as they have won three of the last four national championships. The Cavaliers dominated their opponents, winning more than half of their matches — 16 of them — in 2012-13 by scores of 9-0, 7-0 or 4-0. To cap off their special season, Virginia saw two of its players — then-senior Jarmere Jenkins and then-freshman Mac Styslinger — win the NCAA Men’s Doubles Championship. It was an extraordinary year for the Cavaliers, firmly cementing them as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, team in Virginia’s illustrious sports history. 

1991 men’s soccer 

Few dynasties in Virginia sports history compare to the dominance of late ‘80s and early ‘90s men’s soccer teams, who won five national titles in six years under legendary Coach Bruce Arena. The 1991 Cavaliers (19-1-2) get the nod as best team because they only lost once, and their performance launched four straight titles for the program. Virginia’s only loss came early in the season to Wake Forest, but the team avenged themselves by besting the Demon Deacons 3-1 in the ACC Title Game. In the Final Four game against St. Louis, the Cavaliers overcame a 2-1 deficit late in the game, sending the match into overtime with an equalizer and winning on a header in the 121st minute. The Cavaliers squared off against Santa Clara in the final — who they tied with for the title in the 1989 finals — and defeated them in a thrilling penalty kick shootout to capture their first outright title in school history. Arena’s legacy as one of the best coaches in Virginia history began as the Cavaliers launched a dynasty. Then-freshman defender Claudio Reyna — future USMNT captain and current director of operations for New York City FC — earned his first of three consecutive All-American honors. 

1980-81 men’s basketball

While they fell short of the NCAA title, no Virginia team has matched the success 1980-81 men’s basketball team. The Cavaliers were led by consensus National Player of the Year, future Basketball Hall of Famer and arguably the greatest athlete in Cavalier history, Ralph Sampson in the frontcourt and by captain and future first round pick Jeff Lamp in the backcourt. The assistants on the coaching staff included current Virginia Athletics Director Craig Littlepage and University of Miami Coach Jim Larrañaga. The Cavaliers jumped out to an impressive start to the season — winning their first 23 games — but stuttered towards the end, losing three of their last five games and bowing out in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament. Thankfully, the NCAA tournament went much better for the Cavaliers, as they advanced all the way to the Final Four — the first Virginia team in history to do so — before bowing out to James Worthy’s North Carolina team. The Cavaliers ended the season in third place, the best finish of any Cavalier basketball team.

2006 men’s lacrosse

The 2006 Virginia men’s lacrosse team is widely regarded as potentially the best collegiate lacrosse team of all time. Led by former-coach Dom Starsia, the 2006 squad went undefeated and won the 2006 NCAA Championship trophy. The team beat Princeton by one goal early in the season, but all subsequent opponents trailed by at least four goals as the Cavaliers strutted their way to a 17-0 record. The Cavaliers were unstoppable throughout — finishing with an average winning margin of 8.2 goals. Virginia kicked off the season as No. 1 and ended as No. 1, knocking off Massachusetts in the NCAA Championship final to capture Starsia’s third NCAA Title. Starsia had incredible talent to work with in 2006 — the team included three First-Team All-Americans, including Tewaaraton trophy winner Matt Ward, Michael Culver and Kyle Dixon. The team also boasted three second-team All-Americans and two third-team members. 

related stories