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The Best Lacrosse Team in the History of History Tournament: (12) 2006 Virginia at (5) 1977 Cornell

Let's finish off this half of the bracket with a doozy: Both undefeated, both with mega stars, each from markedly different areas of the country.

To the truncated profiles! (There's a poll at the end for you to cast your vote.)

(12) 2006 Virginia Cavaliers

Details of Incredible Importance

Record: 17-0
Tournament Seed: 1
National Champion?: National champion
Four Really Important Names: Matt Ward (A); Kyle Dixon (M); Matt Poskay (M); Ben Rubeor (M)
Hall of Famers: Zero
All-Americans: Eight -- Matt Ward, Kyle Dixon, Mike Culver (First Team); Ben Rubeor, Matt Poskay, Drew Thompson (Second Team); Richard Smith, Kip Turner (Third Team)
Scoring Margin per Game: 8.24

Brief Notes For/Against

  • This was easily the best team of the 2000's, and I'll fight you with a knife about it. On the year, Virginia dropped 10 -- 10! -- teams in LaxPower's top-15 -- Denver, Syracuse (twice), Princeton, Towson, Johns Hopkins, Maryland (twice), Georgetown, and Massachusetts. In those games, Virginia held a +68 aggregated scoring margin, good for a 6.8 margin per game. That is . . . that is insanity. Virginia didn't need overtime all year to generate a win and all but two games -- against Princeton in the regular season and against Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament -- did the Cavaliers fail to win by at least six goals. It was a powerhouse at both ends of the field, scoring at least 20 goals five times and holding opponents to under ten goals 12 times (in five of those games, Virginia held their opponents to five or fewer scores). This was unseen demolition wrapped in perfection in an era of strong play throughout Division I.
  • I know per-game statistics are misleading -- I don't think that statement could have any more "duh!" in it -- but this fact stood out as ridiculous: In 2006, Maryland held opponents to only 6.47 goals per game (the 16th best mark ever in terms of scoring defense); Virginia put 15 and 11 goals on the Terps in their two meetings in 2006. That's stupid incredible.

(5) 1977 Cornell Big Red

Details of Incredible Importance

Record: 13-0
Tournament Seed: 1
National Champion?: National champion
Four Really Important Names: Dan Mackesey (G); Eamon McEneaney (A); Bob Henrickson (M); Chris Kane (D)
Hall of Famers: Four -- Dan Mackesey; Chris Kane; Bob Henrickson; Eamon McEneaney
All-Americans: Nine -- Eamon McEneaney, Craig Jaeger, Bob Henrickson, Chris Kane, Dan Mackesey (First Team); Tom Marino, Frank Muehleman, Bob Katz (Second Team); Dave Bray (Honorable Mention)
Scoring Margin per Game: 9.38

Brief Notes For/Against

  • Only four teams in the NCAA Tournament era -- 1976 Cornell, 1974 Towson, 1988 Syracuse, and 1990 Syracuse -- hold a stronger scoring margin per game mark than the Red's 9.38 value in 1977. The balance that the team exhibited in its undefeated campaign in 1977 -- a year that proceeded a season in which Cornell absolutely destroyed the rest of the country despite being saddled with the unimpressed smirk from Baltimore -- is legendary: stars on offense, stars on defense, and a star on the sideline in Richie Moran. Only three teams broke the double-digit mark against the Red that year -- Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, and Massachusetts -- while the Red managed to dump in at least 12 goals in every single game (the team's 16.38 goals per game mark is the 20th-best of all time, tied with the 1984 iteration of the Syracuse Orange). The team was only seriously challenged once (a 12-11 victory against Johns Hopkins), winning by at least 10 goals four times and by at least five scores in 11 contests. Hell, even in the NCAA Tournament the Red were dominate, winning by an average of 9.33 goals while facing the eighth- fifth- and second-seeded teams in the tournament. That's a crushing destroyer.
  • This team was the pivot in a multi-year run that is as strong as any in the NCAA Tournament era. During the 1977 season, Cornell was in the midst of a winning streak that started on March 20, 1976, and wouldn't end until the 1978 championship against Johns Hopkins in the NCAA Tournament final. That streak -- which includes the 1977 team's undefeated run -- amounted to 42 consecutive victories, the longest ever. This was program dominance in its most destructive form, evidenced best by this fact: In 1977, Cornellians won coach of the year (Moran), goalie of the year (Mackesey), defenseman of the year (Kane), and player of the year (McEneaney). Nobody was close to Cornell in 1977, and there aren't too many teams -- ever -- that can match what the Red did that season.

So, who are you taking: 2006 Virginia or 1977 Cornell? Back up your expression of freedom in the comments, homeslice.