The 2018-2019 season undoubtedly produced some of the most impressive victories in the history of service academy athletics. In order to earn a nomination for this category, the game must have ended in a victory for at least one of the respective service academy programs. You’ll see why that is important in our “Honorable Mention” category.
Below are your nominees for “Best Game of the Year”
Air Force Men´s Soccer Defeats Denver in NCAA Tournament
The Air Force Men’s soccer team defeated 15th ranked University of Denver by a score of 2-1 in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament on November 18, 2018. This marked just the second time in school history that Air Force advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Klint Parker and Austin Dewing contributed one goal each in the impressive win.
Army Football Crushes Houston in Armed Forces Bowl
Not only did Army end the Cougars season in a depressing manner, the 70-14 victory for the Black Knights actually led to the firing of former Houston head coach Major Applewhite. Applewhite was 15-11 in two seasons at the helm in Houston, but three of his losses came in bowl season and the powers that be decided there was no coming back from the 56-point thrashing he took in the Cougars home state. Junior QB Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. was the star in the win rushing for 170 yards and five touchdowns. Hopkins also contributed an impressive 100.0 QBR in the contest.
Navy Volleyball Defeats American to Win Patriot League Conference Title
The Midshipmen avenged two prior losses to American this season by defeating the defending Patriot League regular season champions on their home court in the Patriot League Tournament Finals. Coming into the contest, American had won the Patriot League tournament each of the last five years and compiled 15 tournament championships over the past 17 seasons. While Navy shared a regular season title in 1999, their 2018 victory made history as the program’s first tournament title thus earning the Patriot League’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Navy needed five sets to notch the victory 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 25-27, 15-9).
Army Men´s Lacrosse Nets Overtime Winner vs. Navy
With about two minutes and 40 seconds remaining in overtime, Matt Manown was juking, spinning and bulldozing his way into the crease. Once he got there, the junior midfielder for the Army Black Knights men’s lacrosse team was able to slice a shot past Navy’s keeper for a walk-off win. Manown’s shot was enough, as Army won its 100th meeting with Navy by a final score of 9-8 in Annapolis, MD. The Army victory contributed to Navy being left out of the Patriot League tournament.
These two games were discussed on our podcast and all throughout the blogger Slack channel. Ultimately these games just missed the cut to earn “nominee” status either due to tough competition or failure to meet full criteria (see Army football vs. Oklahoma).
Army Football Pushes Oklahoma into Overtime
The Black Knights limited Oklahoma to just seven possessions and the Sooners held the ball for just over 15 minutes all game as Army methodically worked their triple option to perfection in nearly pulling off the upset. While ultimately the Black Knights fell short in the 28-21 loss, this game put Army football on the map in the 2018 season. It was a shame they put this game on pay-per-view. While this game didn’t meet the “win” criteria it was the first (and likely, only) game I have ever watched on Twitch.
Army Football Upends Miami (OH) in Double OT
What started as smooth sailing for the Army Black Knights (5-2) in the first half ended in a literally second-by-second fight in double overtime against Miami (Ohio) (3-5, 3-1 MAC). With Hopkins, Jr. sidelined Coach Monken called on Cam Thomas to lead the Black Knights under center. Thomas ran for 137 yards and one touchdown but it was ultimately the defense that provided the victory after stopping the Redhawks at the two-yard-line in their attempt to win with a two-point conversion in double OT.
Well, there you have it. While the final two games didn’t make the cut to be part of the nominee list they certainly deserved some recognition.
Let us know any games you think we missed in the comment section below and don’t forget that voting for all of our end of year awards will begin on June 19th!