For the Love of the Game

by Jonathan Gault | 5/19/13 10:00pm

This will be my final article for The D's sports section and with it, I must arrive at the sad but necessary realization that my time in Hanover is almost at an end. I could write some 800-word retrospective on my "Dartmouth experience" but since you'll probably hear or read something like that a million times over the next three weeks, especially if you're a '13, I'll spare you this time.

Let's do something more fun. Let's count down the top 10 sports moments since I first set foot on Dartmouth's campus on Sept. 1, 2009. Without further ado:

  1. March 16, 2012: Upset City in the NCAA tournament. This was the day that not one, but two 15-seeds defeated 2-seeds in the men's tournament. Entering the day, just four 15s had beaten 2s since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Then Norfolk State stunned Missouri before Lehigh shocked Duke, making for one of the wildest days in tourney history.

  2. 2010 World Cup quarterfinal: Uruguay vs. Ghana. Ghana was trying to become the first African team to make the semifinals, and when Dominic Adiyiah sent a header toward the Uruguayan goal at the end of extra time, their ticket appeared to be booked. But Luis Suarez blocked the shot with his hands, and since he wasn't the goalkeeper, he was sent off. Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing penalty, the match ended up tied and Uruguay won on penalties. Heartbreak.

  3. 2012 Australian Open final. I don't watch a lot of tennis and I didn't watch this match (the 3:30 a.m. start time had something to do with it). But it was epic in every sense of the word. Novak Djokovic won his second straight title by defeating Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 in a final for the ages. The match ended up as the longest Grand Slam final in history, at 5 hours and 53 minutes.

  4. 2010 NCAA tournament championship game. Butler shocked everyone by reaching the title game against Duke, and what a game it was, with no team leading by more than five points for the entire second half. A Brian Zoubek free throw put Duke up two with 3.6 seconds remaining and when he missed the second, Gordon Hayward heaved a prayer from half court. The shot, if it fell, would have produced one of the greatest endings to any sporting event, ever. Instead, it missed by inches, relegating the game from legendary to merely great.

  5. 2013 Masters. This was Augusta drama at its finest. Aussie Adam Scott, who collapsed at the 2012 Open Championship, hit a 25-foot putt on 18 to take the lead. Moments later, Angel Cabrera, aka "El Pato" (one of sports' coolest nicknames), stuck his approach shot within three feet, hitting the putt to tie Scott. Scott hit a long birdie to win on the second playoff hole and cap a memorable final round.

  6. Super Saturday: Aug. 4, 2012. One of British sport's finest hours. America always cleans up at the Olympics, especially in track and field, but for one glorious night, Great Britain ruled the world. Jessica Ennis, the face of the Games, delivered by winning the heptathlon. Greg Rutherford surprised in winning the long jump. And Mo Farah capped it off with a dramatic win in the 10,000-meter. Three gold medals is great. To do it on home soil, 44 minutes apart, is unbelievable.

  7. 2010 Olympic hockey gold medal game. Imagine the Super Bowl, only everyone in America is rooting for the same team. That was what the Vancouver Olympic hockey final meant to Canada. Sidney Crosby scored 7:40 into overtime to defeat the Americans, who had, minutes earlier, tied the game with just 25 seconds left in regulation.

  8. Usain Bolt at the 2012 Olympics. Entering the London Olympics, track experts doubted Bolt's dominance. His losses to training partner Yohan Blake at the Jamaican Olympic trials suggested that he could be vulnerable. He was not. Three dominating wins, one Olympic record and one world record cemented Bolt's status as one of the best ever in track and field.

  9. 2011 World Series, Game 6. The Cardinals overcame two-run deficits in the bottoms of the ninth and tenth innings to deny the Rangers their first World Series title. David Freese's walkoff shot in the bottom of the eleventh capped one of the greatest games in playoff history.

  10. May 13, 2012. I wrote about it in my first column for this newspaper, and to me, nothing is greater than Manchester City's epic Premier League-winning comeback against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the season. Two stoppage-time goals ripped the title from archrival Manchester United, sending it to the blue half of Manchester for the first time in 44 years.

This is just my list and you're welcome to disagree with it. It's been a great four years, Dartmouth.