Top eight sports moments of 2018

Sam Mostow, Staff Reporter

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8: Loyola-Chicago reaches the Final Four

Loyola-Chicago was truly the Cinderella story of the year. Their men’s basketball team overcame all odds and reached the semifinals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this March. As the 12 seed, the Ramblers first raised eyebrows by defeating Miami, the six seed. In the second round, they shocked three seed Tennessee, winning by one point and advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. Loyola went on to win the West division. Even though they lost in the Final Four, they are arguably the best Cinderella story since George Mason University achieved the same feat in 2006.

7:  US Women’s hockey team wins a gold medal

Hockey forward Hilary Knight skates during a game.

Forward Hilary Knight of the United States women’s hockey team looks across the ice in a game against Canada. Knight was critical to the team’s success and the US finally won a gold medal after two straight silver medals. Photo via Wikipedia

For the first time in twenty years, the US women’s hockey team won a gold medal at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. Four years after a heartbreaking loss to Canada, they defeated them in a shootout.

6: UMBC defeats Virginia

On March 17, The University of Maryland-Baltimore County defeated the University of Virginia in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. UMBC was the first sixteen seed to defeat a one seed in NCAA history.

5: The expansion Vegas Golden Knights reach the Stanley Cup Final

Goaltender for the Golden Knights, Fleury, on the ice.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights, wearing a white away jersey and a patch that says “inaugural season,” stares ahead. Fleury led the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final, the first team to reach that feat in their inaugural season. Photo by Michael Miller via Wikipedia Commons.

The first-year Vegas Golden Knights had the best first season in NHL history. They reached the Stanley Cup Final after finishing first in the Pacific Division with 109 points. The second best expansion team in their first season: the 1993-94 Florida Panthers, who finished fifth in the Atlantic Division with 83 points. Even though the Knights eventually lost in the fifth game of the Stanley Cup Final to the Washington Capitals, they were just as successful by reaching that peak.

4: Justify wins the Triple Crown

Justify running a race.

Justify, accompanied by jockey Mike Smith, races through the home stretch of the Belmont Stakes while spectators watch. Justify is only the thirteenth horse to ever win the Triple Crown. Photo by Mike Lizzi via Wikipedia Commons.

For the second time in three years, a horse, named Justify, has won the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is awarded when a single horse wins the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Justify is only the thirteenth horse to win the Triple Crown, and the second since 1978.

3: The Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup–and have a summer to never forget

Alex Ovechkin raises the Stanley Cup.

Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin hoists the Stanley Cup while wearing a red jersey and a white and gray “Stanley Cup champions” hat. Ovechkin led the Capitals to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in their forty-four year history. Photo via Flickr.

The Washington Capitals have won the Stanley Cup for the first time in their forty-four year existence. This was Washington D.C.’s first championship in twenty-six years. After losing in the second round of the NHL playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins two years in a row (who went on to win the Cup both times), they defeated Pittsburgh in overtime in Game 6 of that series. They went on to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games and the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. After exiting Las Vegas with the Stanley Cup in hand, the Capitals celebrated all over Washington. They did everything fromAlex Ovechkin throwing two first-pitches at a Nationals game to running into Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump while crashing CafeMilano to swimming in a Georgetown fountain.

2: Arike Ogunbowale hits two buzzer-beaters in the NCAA women’s semifinal and national championship game.

Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale hit the shot of a lifetime–twice. She hit a three-point shot with one second left in the national semifinal to give Uconn their first loss of the season. Then, when nothing could possibly get crazier (or so we thought), Ogunbowale hit another three-pointer with one-tenth of a second remaining in regulation to lift the Fighting Irish to a national championship over Mississippi State. Ogunbowale’s baskets helped Notre Dame secure a women’s national basketball championship and establish herself as a household name.

1: North and South Korea walk into the Olympic Opening Ceremony unified.

The Korean Unification Flag.

Pictured is the Korean Unification Flag. This was used during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics when North Korea and South Korea were competing as one team. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

While this may not be a specific or a milestone, the PyeongChang Olympics proved that sports bring the world together. With sister of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo Jong, and South Korea president Moon Jae-in both in attendance, both Koreas marched in the ceremony as one and with a unified flag. In addition, these teams played together in one hockey team. This proved that sports is still the eternal unifier and can end problems that nothing else can.