Top 9 of 2019: Sports Moments

Vikram Achuthan, Team Leader

Here are the Top 9 Sports Moments of 2019, the moments which displayed athleticism, strength, dominance and a little luck.

9. Washington Mystics win WNBA Championship

The list begins with a local win, one of several throughout the 2019 sports season. The Washington Mystics, who have competed in the WNBA since 1998, defeated the Connecticut Sun 89-78 in Game 5. After losing in the 2018 finals, the Mystics overcame sloppy play in the first half to claim the trophy. MVP star Elena Delle Donne, who scored 21 points, had an excellent game, after recovering from a dislocated disk in her back. The match was a fitting conclusion to an excellent WNBA season.

8. Simone Biles 2019 World Championship Dominance

Simone Biles, perhaps the greatest American gymnast in history, shattered several records at the 2019 World Championship. Securing her 21st medal at the World Championship, Biles now holds the record for most wins. Her performance also helped Team USA secure their 5th straight championship. Biles’ complicated moves made her performances even more impressive. She became the first gymnast since 1958 to win a total of five medals. Especially after a tumultuous few years for Team USA Gymnastics, Biles excellent performance proves that the character of the athletes matter, not the character of the organization.

7. Toronto Raptors win NBA Finals

The Toronto Raptors became the first NBA team from outside the United States to win the NBA Finals, defeating the Golden State Warriors in six games. All-Star forward Kawai Leonard was named the MVP of the finals, after he came from the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors were understaffed, with stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson injured, though Thompson eventually returned to stage a last-ditch effort. The Raptors won a close game, 114-110. The entire nation celebrated, after a strong performance by the team throughout the season.

6. The New England Patriots win Super Bowl 53

This could be higher. I can see why an argument could be made for this to be higher: There were reports in 2018 that there were disagreements within the franchise, that Brady, Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft were on bad terms. They had two ugly losses at the beginning of the season to the Jaguars and Lions, and a loss to the Dolphins as well as the Titans did little to distract from talk that the Patriots were done, and Tom Brady had become a mediocre quarterback. They finished unimpressively (for New England standards) with an 11-5 record. But there they were, a few weeks later, hoisting their sixth Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won their sixth Super Bowl. No NFL player or coach in the history of the game has ever won six Super Bowls.  Now here’s the bad: This was anticipated to be a shoot out, with two dominant, explosive teams battling it out to the wire. The Rams offensive, led by young Sean McVay, was supposed to be scoring touchdowns every time they touched the ball. Instead, the Rams offense was shut down by the twenty-first ranked Patriots defense, and there were a total of 14 punts in the game. When the punter is the leading candidate for MVP because of his record punting, well… It was just bad football all around, that reminded me of a preseason game. So sixth place sounds good for me right now.

5. Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer, wins Wimbeldon 

In an epic Wimbledon final championship, Djokovic overcame a 2 hour battle with the great Roger Federer, to claim his fifth Wimbledon trophy. This match, between two tennis greats, was never settled until the final stroke, after a final set which Djokovic claimed 13-12. The game’s two top ranked players battled for one more crown in their already glorious career. There were several moments in the match where Djokovic seemed exhausted, and Federer had the upper hand. However,  Djokovic pulled it together and made the right shots under immense pressure.

4. Virginia wins first NCAA title 

Just one year after a quick exit in the round of 16, the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers made it to the NCAA finals, and defeated No. 3 seeded Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime. It was a fitting end to a fantastic season, with many exciting and nail-biting moments. Virginia’s dominance, led by Kyle Guy who scored 24 points in the final, was consistent throughout the game, and throughout the tournament. They were clutch at the perfect moments, like when Guy made three consecutive free throws to take the lead in the waning seconds against Auburn in the Final Four match. Virginia’s defense in the last seconds of regulation in the championship game, and their dominant offense which scored 13 unanswered points in overtime propelled them to victory, and Number Four on this list of top sports moments of 2019.

3. Washington Nationals win World Series

In perhaps the greatest postseason in MLB history, the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 4-3, with pitcher Stephen Strasburg crowned as series MVP. The series was the first World Series in Washington D.C. since 1933, where the Washington Senators were defeated by the New York Giants. When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington in 2004 and renamed themselves as the Nationals, the team had little success, and only reached the postseason in 2012. However, every promising postseason beginning concluded with a disappointing early exit. This season, there was a different energy that filled Nationals Park. They danced after every home run. They celebrated every base hit. And yes, Baby Shark became a popular anthem for Nats fans. A combination of seasoned veterans such as Ryan Zimmerman, a starter since the Nationals inaugural season in Washington D.C., and young superstars like Juan Soto, who turned 21 on Game 3 of the series, led Washington to victory. The Nationals started fast, winning the first two games, but lost three games straight in Washington to the Astros. They were able to win Game 6 despite a controversial call by the umpires, and in Game 7, they came back down 2-0 to defeat the Astros 6-2, becoming the first team to win all their games at the opponents home field.

2. US National team wins World Cup

Not enough can be said to commend the women of the US national team for their performance in the 2019 FIFA World Cup. It is hard to win as an underdog, when all the odds of victory are against you. It is arguably more difficult to win when everyone expects you to win. But that’s exactly what the US Women’s national team did in Paris, defeating Netherlands 2-0 to win their second straight World Cup trophy. They started their tour in France by crushing an overwhelmed Thailand national team 13-0, setting a record for the most number of goals scored in a single game in tournament history. After advancing from their group, they went on to beat Spain, France and England, three exceptional teams with star players. Megan Rapinoe, who won the Golden Ball (awarded to the best player), the Golden Boot (awarded to the player who scored the highest number of goals in the tournament) was also named 2019 Sportsperson of the Year. The team’s victory came amid their fight for pay equality, and the coming months will tell if their fourth World Cup victory was enough to convince US Soccer that the contributions of these women were equal to their male counterparts, who failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

1. Tiger Woods Wins Masters Championship

For more than a decade, professional golf had lost its most exciting and dominant figure in a generation. Tiger Woods won his last major tournament, the U.S. Open, in 2008. Since then, he has battled injury and scandal, and has been a non-factor in any major tournament. Many experts believed Woods would never win a major ever again, and his play in recent years did little to stifle those views. In late 2018 however, Woods quelled speculation that his career was finished by winning the Tour Championship, his first victory since 2015. With excitement and anticipation building for the 2019 Masters, Woods delivered in incredible fashion, with accurate tee shots and crisp putts. The greatest comeback in sports history must be slated as Number 1 on this list, not only because it was a spectacular performance, but because of the high degree of pressure Woods was under to win, and restore his glory as Golf’s greatest.