With the year in sports on campus virtually over, there has never been a better time to recap what the 2013-2014 year brought to Chestnut Hill. It was a year in which the revenue sports shined; the football team returned to a bowl game for the first time, and the hockey team, though coming up short, made a deep run at the national title. Not only that—there were two stars in particular at BC this year that had seasons successful enough to likely change their lives forever. For arguably the first time since 2010, two teams (football and hockey) out of the three biggest revenue sports both found enough success all season to keep fans entertained throughout the year. With that, here are the top five moments from sports around campus for the 2013-2014 seasons.
Sophomore Erika Reineke defended her title as the Singlehanded National Champion for the sailing team in November. The event was held in Newport, RI and she became the second Eagle ever to repeat as Singlehanded National Champion since Annie Haeger.
On the international level, there were also Eagles who had performances worth mentioning at the Olympic games in Sochi this year. Current or former members of the women’s ice hockey team, Alex Carpenter, Molly Schaus, and Kelli Stack each won a silver medal.
5) Boston College Football Becomes Bowl Eligible, then Seals the Deal
Earlier this fall on Saturday November 16th, the Football team accomplished its season-long goal of becoming bowl-eligible when they beat the NC State Wolfpack 38-21. The game, which would be the seniors’ final one played at Alumni Stadium, made the team bowl-eligible for the first time since the 2010 season.
Andre Williams rushed for over 300 yards and broke the Eagles’ single game rushing record that he had set just the game before. He finished the game with 339 yards, an ACC single game record, and two touchdowns.
Then, the following week in College Park, Maryland, the Eagles sealed the deal and clinched a spot for a bowl game. The Eagles won the Maryland game 29-26 on a game winning field goal from 52 yards out. Although it appeared at first that the game would be going to overtime, as kicker Nate Freese missed his first attempt, Maryland had actually called a time out before the kick, giving the kicker a second shot, and the Eagles a win. Andre Williams also broke the 2,000 yard mark for the season in the game against Maryland.
Although the Eagles would go on to lose their final regular season game against Syracuse and then the AdvoCare V100 Bowl against the University of Arizona, the fact that the team made it to a bowl game for the first time in three years was not only an important moment for the program, but also one of the top moments of the year for Eagles’ athletics.
4) Andre Williams’s Breakout Season
One cannot mention the 2013 Football season for the Eagles without mentioning Andre Williams and the breakout year that he had. Coming into the year, he had never rushed for more than 600 yards in a season, and had only reached the end zone ten times in his three years as an Eagle. Yet, by the end of the season, Williams had rushed for 2,177 yards, averaging 6.1 yards a carry. He also scored 18 touchdowns.
Williams had a breakout season in every sense of the phrase. Rushing 355 times throughout the season, he was the center of the Eagles' offense. With a style defined by power running and even more powerful stiff arms, it is impossible to do justice with words as to how dominant he really was on the field. Fortunately, some of his best runs can be seen here:
His senior campaign brought him and the entire program national attention, and culminated with him being a Heisman Trophy finalist and, subsequently, declaring to enter the NFL Draft that is coming up in May. For all these reasons, Andre Williams’ breakout season is one of the top moments of the year.
3) Men and Women’s Ice Hockey Win Beanpot; Men Return to Frozen Four
It is no secret which school is home to the best hockey programs in Boston. In recent years, the Boston College men’s and women’s programs have been dominant, and this year was no different. Both the men's and women's teams emerged as champions in this year's Beanpot—a tournament between Harvard, BC, BU, and Northeastern that annually determines which team gets bragging rights as best in the city.
These victories reminded hockey fans around the city that BC's hockey teams are the teams to beat. Each of the victories came towards the end of the regular season, fueling BC’s hockey teams toward the finish line and the men's team to maintain an unbeaten streak that lasted 18 games.
Although neither of the teams won their respective Hockey East titles, the men’s team returned to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2012, a year in which they won their last national championship. The Eagles lost to Union in the national semifinals, and the women lost to the Clarkson in the national quarterfinals, but the regular season success of each team combined with continued traditions of excellence were enough to make their successes a top moment of the past year.
2) Johnny Gaudreau Wins Hobey Baker
Essential to his team’s success and Frozen Four run was junior Johnny Gaudreau, a name that BC students and hockey fans around the country alike became familiar with over the last three years. Although he did not have a breakout season this year relative to the way Andre Williams did with the football team (as he was a Hobey Baker finalist prior to this year's season), he was truly a dominant force this year.
Gaudreau became the third Eagle in NCAA history to win the award, which is the hockey equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. He led the team in goals, assists, and points this season, and is the tenth leading scorer in program history. Truly earning his award, Gaudreau, or “Johnny Hockey” as some outlets across the US call him, always put on a show for fans whenever he stepped on the ice. Signing a contract with the Calgary Flames following the ceremony, Gaudreau went on to play in the Flames’ final regular season game, scoring the only goal in Calgary’s 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
1) Boston College Men’s Basketball Upsets #1 Syracuse & Postseason
Don’t be mistaken—there was about one moment during the Men’s Basketball season that was worth writing about for a top moment of the year, and that was, of course, the team’s upset of #1 ranked Syracuse, at Syracuse. The team was very, very bad; they finished 8-24. But for one night, they made a national statement.
On Feb. 19, the team entered into a game that many thought was a guaranteed win for the Orange, who were riding a 25- game unbeaten streak; ESPN even gave them a 99% chance of victory, as seen on SportsCenter.
Maybe it was best for the Eagles to play with that type of chip on their collective shoulder all season, because with all odds stacked against them, they shined on national TV. In the 62-59 overtime victory, Oliver Hanlan dropped 20 points, and Lonnie Jackson added 10, including all four vital free throws down the stretch. For at least one night, the basketball team put on a show for those on campus, and for basketball fans everywhere in their upset of the number one team in the country.
However, that was as good as it would get for the Eagles, and once the season ended, Brad Bates took the actions that he deemed necessary to point the team back in the right direction. For that reason, the basketball team’s postseason is worthy of being a top moment.
As the sport that brings in the second highest amount of revenue to the school, the basketball team shouldn't just be good. It should be very good. However, for the last four years, they have been far from that—last appearing in the NCAA tournament in 2009 when Al Skinner was still head coach.
After witnessing four seasons of disappointment, including a 2010-11 season in which the Eagles were an NCAA tournament bubble team that ended up getting a one-seed in the NIT, Bates decided that enough was enough. He fired Donahue and brought in Jim Christian, the former Ohio University coach and record holder for the highest winning percentage (.700) in MAC history.
While it remains to be seen just how good of a fit Christian will be for the program, Donahue’s firing brought a much-needed sigh of relief. Furthermore, while Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon have decided to transfer following last season, Christian has already received one blessing heading into next season with the news that Olivier Hanlan will be sticking around for at least another year. That alone should make the adjustment easier and provide another glimmer of hope for the future of the program.
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