Game of the Year: Northwestern 43, Notre Dame 40 (OT) – Football
If there’s one thing Wildcat fans can be proud of over the previous two 5-7 seasons, it’s Northwestern’s stunning upset victory over then-No. 18 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The game was the antithesis of the misery that so frequently defined NU’s up-and-down 2014 campaign. The maligned offense exploded for 547 yards, the Cats recovered a miracle fumble to earn a shot at sending the game to overtime and sophomore kicker Jack Mitchell became an instant hero by booting the tying and winning field goals straight through the uprights. NU earned its Chick-fil-A that night and sent fans home with a game to remember.
Honorable Mention: Northwestern 82, Michigan 78 (2OT) – Men’s Basketball
Team of the Year: Field Hockey
Field Hockey captured its first-ever Big Ten Championship in 2014, edging out top seed Maryland in the championship game, 3-1, to take home the trophy. The Wildcats excelled under the leadership of sixth-year coach Tracey Fuchs, who has quietly built Northwestern into a conference powerhouse. Fuchs organized this year’s squad around the talents of senior goalkeeper Maddy Carpenter, who started every game in net, posted a career-high .760 save percentage and earned first team All-Big Ten recognition. The Cats disappointed in the NCAA Tournament with a first round exit at the hands of Duke, but should remain a conference and national power in 2015 with the return of leading scorers sophomores Dominique Masters and Isabel Flens.
Honorable Mention: Women’s Golf
Most Northwestern Moment (tie): Trevor Siemian falls down on the final play against Michigan
This was a painful game to watch from start to finish, with each offense mired in ineptitude and unable to score during the first half. Michigan eventually scored in the second half after a muffed punt by senior receiver Tony Jones, but Northwestern rallied and drove for a potentially-game-tying touchdown, scoring with just three seconds left in the game. Coach Pat Fitzgerald opted to leave the offense on the field and attempt a game-winning two-point conversion, and on the field is exactly where Trevor Siemian stayed. The senior quarterback took the snap, rolled to his right and slipped and fell to the turf in an attempt to avoid an oncoming Wolverines defender, ending the game. NU left the field with a 10-9 defeat, which was another ugly loss in an ugly season.
Most Northwestern Moment (tie): Dez Wells scores a last-second putback to sink Northwestern
The Wildcats lost five Big Ten games in a row after winning their first, and that was before travelling to College Park, Maryland, to face the then-No. 13 Terrapins. Despite the long odds, Northwestern actually managed to string together its best performance to date — up until the last shot. Freshman guard Bryant McIntosh laid in 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting and junior guard Tre Demps hit a beautiful step-back jumper to give NU a late lead, but none of that mattered when Maryland guard Melo Trimble lofted a 3-pointer with just a few ticks remaining. The shot clanged off the rim and into the hands of forward Dez Wells, who put it through the hoop to seal the win for the Terrapins. Another five games passed before the Cats finally picked up that elusive second conference victory.
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