After winning a national championship most coaches would focus on the accomplishment the following season and aim to build off the momentum. Virginia Head Coach Lars Tiffany felt differently after winning the 2019 National Championship as his team defeated the Yale Bulldogs 13-9.
“After the 2019 National Championship, I was almost treating that trophy like it was poisonous. I didn’t want to talk about it, I wanted to move forward with the men and I didn’t allow the words ‘repeat’ or ‘defend’ to be used in the locker room or around the offices.”
The following season saw the Cavaliers go 4-2 after six games into the season. They had just come off a close 14-13 loss at Brown and were getting ready for a massive game versus Maryland at College Park when everything changed. As many know, the 2020 season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Coach Tiffany saw this shortened season and school year as a “speed bump.” A time to reflect and look back at the past 12 months and see how the program handled the season after coming off a national championship victory.
“The Covid year… that little speed bump we had, allowed all of us to step back… What it allowed me to do, essentially have a second chance as a defending champion. I really was able to say ‘You know what? I don’t like the way I approached the post-2019 title.’”
The new approach was spearheaded after Coach Tiffany met with the Georgetown men’s soccer staff as 4-time National Champion & former Virginia Head Coach Dom Starsia (1993-2016) brought the two together. Tiffany learned from the Georgetown program and adopted his outlook for the 2021 season.
“It was really an eye-opening experience because the Georgetown staff had looked at their national championship and used examples with their men of ‘Once you win one, you can really get on a roll’ as they looked at past examples in men’s soccer history. Virginia men’s soccer is one of those examples… I had done just the opposite, I had said ‘Look how hard it is to win two in a row.’”
The Cavaliers went on to have an incredible season as they compiled a 14-4 record in 2021. Virginia went on to defeat Maryland 17-16 as Anthony DeMaio scored the game-winning goal with just 11 seconds left in the contest to win back-to-back National Championships.
Keep your eyes peeled as the team’s schedule will be released in the next few weeks as they gear up for the 2022 season. Can the Cavaliers repeat for a third-straight season and defend their title once more? Can they continue to build off their success and keep the roll going? Only time will tell.
Watch the full interview with Lars Tiffany here.
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