Now that the academic year has come to close, we’re looking back at what was, for the most part, a stellar year for Northwestern athletics on the whole. From field hockey’s second straight NCAA Championship appearance in the fall to lacrosse’s 21-game winning streak en route to a national title in May, 2022-2023 was filled with awesome seasons that took multiple programs to new heights. Our writers shared their favorite moments from the year. Drop your own in the comments below!
Iggy Dowling: Northwestern men’s basketball upsets No. 1 Purdue
The correct answer is lacrosse’s dominant victory over Boston College for the national title, but I’ll settle for one I was actually there for (and was lucky enough to cover). It’s been four months now since that game, and everything about it still feels like a blur. The utter shock I felt watching Chase Audige come alive in the final four minutes was so fitting, given how astonishing the season was as a whole to the general public. And it turned the dreams that had lingered around Evanston for weeks — of an NCAA Tournament berth and the transformation of Welsh-Ryan Arena into one of college basketball’s best atmospheres — into tangible realities. I basically forgot how to do my job for a few minutes that Sunday, but I’m never going to forget watching that sea of black swarm midcourt.
Honestly, I could’ve picked the entire week of Northwestern men’s basketball that came after Purdue. But I’ll save that for the massive oral history about the entire season some fourth-grader will write on this site 10 years from now. It’ll be one heck of a story.
Bradley Locker: Northwestern men’s basketball’s return to March Madness
As Iggy noted, lacrosse is the obvious choice, but the winter season was particularly unforgettable — after an underwhelming fall — because of the resurgence of Chris Collins’ men’s basketball squad. While there were no shortage of incredible moments throughout the entire year, the capstone was undoubtedly watching the team make the Big Dance for just the second time ever. From a festive Selection Sunday show in Welsh-Ryan Arena to thousands of fans donning purple and white out in Sacramento to leaving it all on the floor against a vaunted UCLA team, it was surreal to see Northwestern back in all of the bracket madness and in the national spotlight for the first time since 2017. I’m eternally grateful to have been there in Golden 1 Center (and Punch Bowl Social) for a trip I won’t forget any time soon.
Adam Beck: Northwestern men’s basketball defeats No. 14 Indiana at home
When looking at the men’s basketball team this year, the obvious answers for best moments come down to beating Purdue and Boise State. However, beating Indiana for the second time was the moment where something was clear: this team wasn’t a fluke. Coming off the monumental win at home against the Boilermakers, Northwestern dominated the Hoosiers out of the gate, dashing out to a 39-20 advantage by halftime. But Indiana responded in the second half, and with seconds left the score was tied at 62. With the clock winding down, Boo Buie dribbled right — may or may not have pushed off Trey Galloway — and connected on a six-foot floater, sending Welsh-Ryan Arena into a frenzy.
We already knew this team was special, but after beating Purdue, this win showed the national audience that Northwestern was to be reckoned with.
Sarah Meadow: Lacrosse wins eighth national championship
Ever since the Lake Show defeated UNC at home back in March, I knew this team was something special. Maybe it was the X-factor of adding Molly Laliberty in goal or Hailey Rhatigan on attack, or maybe it was the storybook ending of Izzy Scane lifting the trophy after a year watching from the sidelines while the ‘Cats took a devastating loss in the NCAA Semifinals to UNC, but this team was magical.
Northwestern lacrosse was at the pinnacle of the sport in the early 2010s, but after making it to the 2019, 2021 and 2022 Final Fours without advancing to the championship games, naysayers could say their time was done.
This season, not only did they go on a 21-game winning streak, only losing in the season opener to Syracuse, the ‘Cats also trounced every team in the playoffs after a close victory over Michigan, 8-7. From there, Scane never took her foot off the gas, and would also take home the 2023 Tewaaraton Award (the equivalent of the Heisman) as well as IWLCA Attacker and Player of the Year. Northwestern’s will to win never wavered, and look for the Lake Show to go for the repeat in 2024, with Scane back for one more year and Maddy Taylor only in her second season — with the possibility of some more fifth-year or transfers adding to a stacked program again.
As I wrap up my time as a student reporter, I’m forever grateful that I was able to cover the past three seasons of this team, and it was a cherry on top to cover the championship run.
Sophia Vlahakis: Lacrosse wins eighth national championship
There is quite literally nothing more you could ask for from this team. From the first game of the season in the JMA Wireless Dome to the last game of the entire lacrosse season, Kelly Amonte Hiller and her squad came out with the intent to win and a will to fight for it.
In the national championship, Northwestern was running the clock on Boston College — a powerhouse with arguably the most postseason experience. In this game, it became clear that the 2023 Wildcats were not just another talented team; they’re the type of team that gets talked about after the fact.
Now, I can keep on going about this team. I can talk about the powerful quartet of Izzy Scene, Erin Coykendall, Hailey Rhatigan and Madison Taylor or the underrated defense anchored by Molly Laliberty. I can list the statistics and awards and reasons why Scane is a generational talent. But, I don’t need to. The national title says all of that.
I am biased. I did get to see the victory in person, but even if I didn’t, it would still be my favorite. Yeah, it was great to see Northwestern in March Madness and see the ‘Cats take down No. 1 Purdue. But, this lacrosse team is the best of the best; they deserved that trophy.
Keep in mind, for lacrosse, this is the highest level. It doesn’t get better than Northwestern, Maryland, Boston College, Syracuse and North Carolina. Year in and year out, those are the storied programs that get the best players in the country. In my personal opinion, there is no comparison for seeing the best talent and best quality of play a sport has to offer. When Northwestern took the crown, it quite literally was on the top of the lacrosse world.
David Gold: Northwestern’s 31-28 victory in Ireland
After attending a school that did not have a college football program, finally having a school to root for was a really cool experience. I could not sit still for a single moment of the game, constantly bouncing around as Ryan Hilinski sliced up the Huskers’ defense. To sit around with my family, embracing a school that actually cared about sports, cemented that my decision to transfer was the correct one — even before I ever stepped on campus. I really thought that the Wildcats were going to be a good football team, and I could not have been more wrong. Turns out, Scott Frost is just better at losing football games.