The best part about sports is the unpredictability of the game. I am a big fan of underdog teams and David vs. Goliath moments, so my list of the most memorable sports moments of 2018 has a theme of teams surprising everyone with their success. As always, if you don’t agree with my list or believe I am missing something, please find me in the hallways or the Commons, as I am happy to discuss.
In no particular order:
The 2018 March Madness Tournament was quite literally madness. The tournament was full of shocking upsets and busted brackets, but by far the most surprising moment was when the 11th seeded Loyola Chicago Ramblers made it all the way to the Final Four. Knocking off powerhouse teams like Kansas State and Tennessee, the Ramblers captured the attention of the country. Even after their defeat by the University of Michigan in the Final Four, their legacy and Sister Jean’s popularity lived on. The University of Maryland Baltimore County turned heads by becoming the first 16-seed team to defeat a 1-seed, knocking out the University of Virginia, a team who many believed was the best in the country.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League did the unthinkable by making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season. As an expansion team, they were comprised of washed-up veterans and other teams’ leftover players. Led by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and snipers James Neal and William Karlsson, the Golden Knights finished with an outstanding record of 51–24–7 and came three wins shy of the Stanley Cup. Vegas defied all odds and proved that they weren’t just an expansion team, but a playoff team to be reckoned with.
The 2018 College Football National Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia lived up to the hype. Down 13–0 at halftime, the Alabama Crimson Tide turned to true-freshman Tua Tagovailoa to swing momentum. He did just that. With a wild second half that saw explosive runs and missed field goals, the game eventually headed to overtime. Tagovailoa capped off a most valuable player performance with a 41-yard touch down pass to DeVonta Smith, leading the Tide to a 26–23 victory. The game was the start of an impressive career for the quarter back (QB), who finished as a Heisman finalist this season and led Alabama back to another national championship game.
The National Football League (NFL) had its own version of a walk-off finish in the National Football Conference (NFC) Divisional Playoff Game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. Down 24–23 with 10 seconds left and 61 yards before the end zone, Vikings QB Case Keenum heaved the ball to Stefon Diggs, who made an impressive catch, avoided a senseless dive from a Saints defender (who will go nameless to avoid embarrassment), and waltzed into the end zone. The announcer dubbed this improbable play the “Minnesota Miracle.” After all, the play sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.
It’s about time I showed the Boston Red Sox some love on Sports Chenter. The Sox capped off an unbelievable season with a five-game dismantling of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Led by rookie manager Alex Cora, a formidable starting rotation, and a dangerous offensive lineup, Boston put together a 108-win regular season. In the postseason, they got their revenge from last season on the Houston Astros before beating LA en route to becoming the best team in baseball.
Speaking of getting revenge, the United States Women’s Ice Hockey Team finally defeated Canada in the Pyeongchang Olympics to claim its first gold medal since 1998. The Gold Medal Game between the two countries went to an exciting overtime where Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s goal was enough to propel Team USA to victory. The Canadian’s poor sportsmanship after the game, including one player not accepting the silver medal, was enough to show how big a deal it was that Team USA finally defeated the powerhouse Canadians.
A memorable moment doesn’t always have to be a good moment. It can sometimes be embarrassing and humorous, as was the case for J.R. Smith and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game One of the National Basketball Association Finals against the Golden State Warriors. After teammate George Hill missed his second free throw with 4.7 seconds left in the game, tied at 107, Smith grabbed the rebound underneath the basket. However, instead of going up for the uncontested layup and potentially game-winning points, he dribbled away from the sea of players, probably thinking that the Cavs were winning and all he needed to do was dribble out the clock. Smith’s mental lapse cost his team a chance at a key first-game victory. Cleveland went on to lose in overtime and get swept in the series.
From mental blunders to heroic moments, last year in the sports world was exciting and memorable. This only sets the bar high for 2019, as we hope this year will be the same.