Editor's Note: This week, we'll be looking back at Syracuse sports in 2015 by announcing our selections for different superlatives, which were voted on by the TNIAAM staff. Today, we start with Best Moment.
Prior to this fall, it had been more than 60 years since an Olympic sports team won a national championship for Syracuse. More precisely, it was the men's cross country team that had most recently won a title — in 1951.
But on Nov. 21, this season's version of the men's cross country team ended that drought by capturing the national championship in Louisville. And this time, it only took one day for another SU Olympic team to win a national championship; the Orange field hockey squad did just that the next day, topping North Carolina, 4-2, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The sequence — two championships in back-to-back days — was enough to earn the TNIAAM award for "Best Moment" in Syracuse athletics in 2015. Other finalists were former Syracuse football coach Scott Shafer being carried off the field after the Orange topped Boston College in his final game; the men's and women's lacrosse teams winning their respective ACC tournaments on the same day; and the men's basketball team winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
At the men's cross country national championship, Syracuse had three runners place in the top 10, garnering 82 points — enough to knock off Colorado, which was looking for a third consecutive title. SU's Justyn Knight (29:46) finished fourth, while Colin Bennie (29:55) finished eighth and Martin Hehir (29:59) finished ninth. After that, it was Philo Germano (30:29, 39th) and Joel Hubbard (30:31, 47th) who finished the scoring for the Orange and sealed the championship.
Less than 24 hours later, the Syracuse field hockey team took the field in Ann Arbor for a date with the Tar Heels in the national championship. The Orange entered the game with only one blemish on their resume — a 2-1 overtime loss to North Carolina in the ACC title game.
But Syracuse avenged that loss. The Orange grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first half, relinquished it in the second half and re-took the lead when Zoe Wilson scored her first career goal with a little more than 11 minutes to play. That turned out to be the game-winner, and SU forward Emma Lamison scored an empty-net insurance goal with 6:18 to play.
The field hockey national championship was especially noteworthy, as it marked the national championship won by a women's team in Syracuse history. And it also marked the end to arguably the most successful weekend in the history of Syracuse athletics.