Year in Review: Virginia
Finished: 14-4, lost in NCAA semifinals to Syracuse in double-overtime
MVP: Bud Petit. Fifth-year senior goalkeeper was a backup for four and a half years. As Richmond Times-Dispatch beat writer Jeff White once wrote, Petit entered Virginia as a freshman in 2004 and by the time he became the starter, he was 23 years old, had graduated with a degree in studio arts and was enrolled in grad school.
Coach Dom Starsia noted that overtime games usually end quickly. And Petit did more than enough to give his team the chances to beat Syracuse in OT, starting with the pass he intercepted from Syracuse all-American Mike Leveille to Kenny Nims on the opening possession.
Nims was wide open and, if the pass had gotten through, Syracuse would have won without giving UVa a possession.
Petit also made two saves in the first overtime. One came on a shot from Steven Brooks, who had scored three pretty huge goals either late in regulation or in overtime this season.
What They'll Miss Most: Senior A Ben Rubeor. Willing to play when less than 100 percent physically. When he was finally fit, he scored the winning goal in overtime against Maryland in the quarterfinals and came extremely close to winning the game against Syracuse; his shot hit off the crossbar and bounced away in the second overtime.
It was so close that the replays on ESPN showed the players on the sideline had started to celebrate.
Most Unusual Stat: Freshman GK Adam Ghitelman was 8-1 as a starter.
What They Need in 2009: More consistent effort. This team seemed to lack heart in the regular season games against Maryland and Duke, in the first-round game against UMBC and in the first half of the quarterfinal against Maryland.
Reason to be Cheerful: Starsia and his assistants are probably the best coaching staff in the country. Virginia had excellent home crowds this year and Klockner Stadium became a much more difficult place to play than in past years.
Reason to be Fearful: The intangibles that are lost with Rubeor and Petit are huge. I think Matt Kelly will replace Petit as the heart and soul of the defense. Who will do so on offense?
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