At the start of the ACC Tournament, women's soccer head coach Steve Swanson worried that his 13-4-1 team still "wasn't clicking" as a unit.
That changed once tournament play began. After taking down perennial powerhouse UNC—which had won 20 of the last 25 ACC championships—and then beating Florida State, UVA faced Maryland in the title game. For the Wahoos, the game wasn't only about victory. They wanted to avenge their regular-season 3-1 loss to the Terrapins, one of the few squads that beat UVA all year.
In the locker room before the game, the team watched a motivational video compilation, created by the entire staff, of clips from previous ACC games leading up to the championship.
Once the game began, Virginia dominated both sides of the ball, culminating in a 4-0 victory—UVA's first ACC title since 2004.
"The great thing about this team is that they recognized the need to come together, to play for one another and to serve the team more than anything else," Swanson says. "The result was some of the best soccer the program has ever seen."
"It was a hard one for our team to accept," says Swanson, who holds the highest winning percentage in the history of the Virginia women's soccer program.
Several UVA team members earned post-regular-season accolades, including fourth-year player Caroline Miller, who was voted the ACC Women's Soccer Offensive Player of the Year. Wahoo sophomore midfielder Morgan Brian was also named to the All-ACC first team. Miller will go on to play soccer professionally—in January, she was selected by the Washington Spirit in the National Women's Soccer League College Draft.
And the future for UVA women's soccer looks bright, with a core of talented returning players and an influx of highly regarded recruits. "Our goals are to win an ACC Championship, win an NCAA Championship and have fun. And not necessarily in that order," says Swanson.