Worst Date with Destiny: The defending champion UVA women's lacrosse team appeared to be peaking at the perfect moment. After two setbacks earlier this season, the Cavs (17-5) finally knocked off the Duke Blue Devils in their national semifinal showdown in Annapolis Friday, May 20 and appeared poised for a repeat. Unfortunately, their dreams died at the hands of another team for whom Sunday, May 22 was a date with destiny.
The Northwestern Wildcats were determined to complete their perfect season (21-0) by claiming only the second national championship in the Chicago school's long history. (The other was the 1941 men's fencing team.) The Wildcats suffocated the UVA attackers throughout the second half on their way to becoming the first non-eastern school to ever win the women's lacrosse championship, 13-10.
Despite the heartbreaking end of their third-straight NCAA championship appearance, Amy Appelt and company hold their heads high. "I think it shows that we had great players all around, and we were willing to work hard. If you do those things, you play in that final game," Appelt told the Daily Progress.
Sunday Stoppers: With several UVA teams deep in postseason play this week, Sunday, May 22 will be remembered as a painful elimination day in Cavalier athletics. After the women's lacrosse team fell one step short of ultimate glory, the men's tennis team's record-setting season ended with a 4-1 loss to UCLA in the national quarterfinals. UVA (27-3) rode a 16-game winning streak into College Station, Texas, but the 'Hoos did not appear to have their A-game as they battled Pac Ten Champions looking to avenge a 4-2 loss earlier this season.
Even with the loss, Cav spirits remain high. Several individual Wahoos continue tournament play in both the singles and doubles rounds. In addition, not one player on this year's squad is graduating, and coach Brian Boland will have even higher expectations next season. "There are no excuses," Boland told the Progress. "UCLA beat us. But we'll be back for sure. We'll work harder."
Best "Rebirth": UVA men's lacrosse coach Dom Starsia entered this season with a chip on his shoulder after the Cavs followed their 2003 NCAA championship season with a dreadful 5-8 campaign. The fourth-seeded Hoos (11-3) made a major statement with a hard fought 10-8 triumph over the fifth seeded Navy Midshipmen in the NCAA quarterfinals Saturday, May 22, to return to lacrosse's biggest stage, facing the Hopkins Blue Jays in the Final Four at 2pm Saturday, May 28 in Philadelphia.
Hottest Hoos in Town: Capping off a manic UVA sports weekend, the baseball team plays some of the best ball of the season to sweep away the Duke Blue Devils in their final home series at Davenport Field. The Cavs (38-17, 14-14) close out the regular season with six straight victories to up their NCAA tournament chances and ride into the ACC tournament as the No. 7 seed.
The Week Ahead
NCAA LACROSSE SEMIFINALS
UVA Men vs. (1) John's Hopkins @ Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Saturday, May 28 @ 2pm
Spend Memorial Day weekend watching the best lacrosse in America. Tickets available through the UVA ticket office. Call for information.
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves
Monday, May 30 @ 3:05pm, Tuesday, May 31-Thursday, June 2 @ 7:05pm
After 13 straight years atop the NL East Division, the Braves find themselves in a dogfight with the expansion Nationals, just a single game behind. Tickets available at nationals.com.