(Photo Courtesy of UMass Athletics)
The 2006 season is best remembered as the season that produced the last undefeated national champion, as Virginia went 17-0 and absolutely ran the table all year.
However, many tend to forget just how special that UMass squad was that lost to Virginia in the national title game. To this day, they are the only UMass team to reach Championship Weekend and many argue that they are the best UMass team of all-time.
Led by head coach Greg Canelle, who was in his 12th season at the helm of the Minutemen at the time, UMass went 13-5 overall. And heading into the month of April, they only had one loss on their resumè: a 9-8 defeat against UAlbany on a Tuesday in mid-March. UMass finished the season out with a 4-3 record in April and early May.
The Minutemen came into the NCAA Tournament unseeded and were placed against six-seeded Cornell in the first round. Behind a five-point performance from Sean Morris, UMass took down Cornell 10-9, which marked their first-ever NCAA Tournament win on the road.
In the NCAA Quarterfinals, they met three-seeded Hofstra, who they had beaten 11-7 in the first game of the regular season. UMass took down the Pride 11-10 in overtime, coming back from a five-goal deficit with 8:03 left in the fourth quarter to force overtime and secure the win off of a goal from a freshman Jim Connolly late in the overtime period, which was his fifth goal of the game.
Behind a 15-save performance from Doc Schneider, the Minutemen topped 4th-seeded Maryland, 8-5, in the semifinals to secure a berth in the NCAA title game. The win over Maryland also marked the second time in NCAA history that an unseeded team advanced to the national title game. 1991 Towson was the first to lay claim to that accomplishment.
UMass was throttled in that national title game, losing 15-7 to No. 1 and undefeated Virginia, who is still one of the greatest teams in college lacrosse history. Despite the defeat, the Minutemen’s run during that 2006 season is no doubt historic in its own right.