After more than a month of Virginia Athletics, many of the Cavaliers performed well and earned high rankings, while other teams showed promise.
After an unbeaten start and an incredible away win over the then-No. 2 The North Carolina women’s soccer team suffered its first loss last week and needed a revival to live up to the high expectations many had for the team. On the men’s side, the football team has already flashed a few gleams, including Saturday’s road win over third-placed Syracuse. Meanwhile, the men’s golf team won the No. 1 spot for the first time in the program’s history and is in the best spot for the Spring National Championships.
As these teams look to take the next step, our Athletics staff discuss the implications of these developments for the future of these three teams.
How did women’s football cope with their first defeat of the season?
Harry Farley: Losing to a talented Notre Dame team on the road can be viewed in a positive light. Virginia’s 9-1-1 record so far this season is virtually unbeatable. While the loss was disappointing, it would remind the Cavaliers that they are not invincible. Virginia needs to feel that way after the loss. With seven games remaining against high-level ACC teams, the Cavaliers are sure to win.
Brandon Brown: There’s no need to panic in coach Steve Swanson’s training camp. A one-shot loss to ACC nemesis No. 18 Notre Dame isn’t the end of the world. Missed chances and inconsistent defense contributed to the Huss’ first loss of the season. While it may fall from No. 2 in the NCAA standings, Virginia just needs to keep improving. The team has momentum and chemistry, and I predict that will translate into the playoffs.
Taylor West: At the end of the day, no matter how good a team is, it’s always challenging to hit the road and beat the top 25 in the ACC. That was the factor in not being able to put the ball on goal against Notre Dame, which scored eight points for the Cavaliers. Going forward, the Cavaliers will need to put more pressure on opposing defenses, as they have averaged just two shots per game over the past three games.
Was victory over No. 3 Syracuse a turning point for men’s football?
Harry: In short, hope. The win is sure to be a huge boost to the team’s morale, but the intimidating ACC schedule is still far ahead, including away games at Pittsburgh, Clemson and North Carolina. The key to the Cavaliers is offensive consistency. Small forward Leo Alfonso scored the winning shot against the Orange and must continue to maintain a high level of offense if Virginia is to contend for an ACC title.
Aidan Baller: The win over No. 3 Syracuse showed what this team can do at its best. After beating a top team, this roster knows what they’re capable of, which should give them a better run against other ACC teams. Syracuse is Virginia’s biggest test of the regular season, so if they continue at this level, this season is sure to be special.
Taylor: The win is absolutely huge for Virginia, as they appear to be heading for a third straight season of mediocre. It’s all going to be about how the team can build on this win and keep that momentum going in the ACC for the rest of the year. The Cavaliers will have a chance at No. 10 in Pittsburgh that Friday.
Men’s golf tops program history for the first time—can you win a national championship in the spring?
Harry: really. In the first game of the fall at the Streamsong Invitational, the team shot a school record 56-under on the way to the win. Freshman Ben James may be Virginia’s best individual golfer ever, and he inspires confidence in the national championship. He personally won the Streamsong Invitational, shooting 20 under and finishing second in the most recent Golfweek poll.
Aidan: First, Virginia has won the national championship — at least twice in each of the past two years. Athletes at this school perform at their highest level in crunch time – and I see that on this golf team. James has been phenomenal this fall, proving that he certainly has what it takes to lead this team to a national championship. Also, senior Pietro Bovari is just five shots behind James, showing that he too has the ability to play with the best players.
Brandon: The Virginia men’s golf team recently became the 13th top-ranked sport in Virginia track and field history. The team has three players in Golfweek’s top 70 college golfers, including No. 2 James, who opened the season with a 20-under 196 at the Streamsong Invitational in Bowling Green, Florida. School record for the season. If the team continues to play the right way now, it has a good chance of joining Virginia’s roster and winning a championship.