Top DC sports moments of 2017

WASHINGTON — A note, before we begin. We debated whether or not “top” should mean all positive moments, or if it should include the full spectrum of important results. In the end, we decided the latter was the only fair way to go. That means that this list includes some painful memories for our local teams as well as triumphant ones. This being D.C., it seemed the only fair way to tell the full story of the year that was.

We debated whether or not “top” should mean all positive moments, or if it should include the full spectrum of important results. In the end, we decided the latter was the only fair way to go. That means that this list includes some painful memories for our local teams as well as triumphant ones. This being D.C., it seemed the only fair way to tell the full story of the year that was.

James Madison head coach Mike Houston smiles after being dunked by his team following their 28-14 win against Youngstown State in the FCS championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
10. James Madison football wins its second FCS national title

Harrisonburg may be on the fringe of our listening area, but the Dukes are the most successful local college football team we’ve got right now. After hammering South Dakota State last weekend, JMU will be playing for a second straight national title. The Dukes knocked off top-seeded North Dakota State up in the Fargodome en route to last year’s title game, a 28-14 victory over Bo Pelini’s Youngstown State. They haven’t lost since September 17, 2016 to FBS North Carolina, a run of 26 straight victories.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: The Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate after defeating the Washington Capitals in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
9. The Penguins dump the Caps (again)

Once they fell behind 2-0, and even more so when they went down three-games-to-one, the Caps’ demise at the hands of the hated Penguins seemed inevitable. But they fought back with a victory in Game 5, then went to Pittsburgh and stunned the crowd in Game 6, scoring the first five goals en route to a 5-2 triumph. That meant a home Game 7, a chance to exorcise the demons once and for all. Oh well.

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

8. John Wall’s Game 6 game-winner vs. Celtics The Wizards are still looking for their first Eastern Conference Finals berth in decades, but don’t blame John Wall. He kept Washington’s season alive with this deep, hand-in-the-face three to win Game 6 against the Celtics, leaping onto the scorer’s table and raising his arms to the crowd after the final buzzer. The Wiz couldn’t get a road win over the top-seeded Celtics in Game 7, but this shot was arguably the biggest Wall has hit in his career to date. (Getty Images/Patrick Smith)
Ultramarathoner Mike Wardian takes on the first leg of the World Marathon Challenge in Antarctica. (Courtesy: Mike Wardian/World Marathon Challenge)
7. Local man shatters world record, finishing seven marathons on seven continents in seven days

Ultramarathon running may not register high on your radar of sports interests. But there was probably no singular athletic achievement more impressive last year than what Arlington resident Mike Wardian pulled off. Simply completing the World Marathon Challenge — seven marathons, on seven different continents, on seven consecutive days — is madness enough. That he averaged 2:45:57 per marathon, which equals 6:30 miles over better than 183 miles, is insanity.

(Courtesy: Mike Wardian/World Marathon Challenge)

Justin Williams; Evgeny Kuznetsov; Marcus Johansson
6. Marcus Johannson ties it in the 3rd, wins it in OT to send Caps past Maple Leafs

The Caps bowed out before the Stanley Cup Finals yet again, but not before getting the kind of win that always seems to break against them. After falling behind (no thanks to a terrible bounce) on the road in the third period of Game 6 against the Leafs, the Caps saw Marcus Johannson tuck the equalizer home to force overtime. Six-and-a-half minutes into the first OT, Johannson did it again, scooping the Justin Williams rebound and sliding it home for a series-winning goal.

5. Congressional Baseball Game takes on new importance

The Congressional Baseball Game has always been a quirky, inside-the-Beltway local tradition for the cross section of national pastime lovers and policy wonks. But after a gunman opened fire on the Republican team practice the day before the game this year, the event was thrust into the national spotlight. In a year of bitter partisanship, it provided a few hours of respite for those involved as well as the crowd watching in person and on television.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

4. Stephen Strasburg, Michael A. Taylor keep the Nats season alive With all the confusion and controversy heading into Game 4 of the NLDS, there was every reason to believe the Nats could easily collapse and fold. Instead, despite being under the weather, Stephen Strasburg threw perhaps the best game of his life. But despite allowing just three hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out 12, it seemed like it might be for naught until Michael A Taylor crushed a shot through a fierce wind and into the basket over the Wrigley Field wall for a grand slam to put the game out of reach. (AP/Alex Brandon)
3. Giants pick off Kirk Cousins to end Washington’s playoff hopes This play felt like it was unfolding in slow motion as it happened. As the pocket starts to collapse, Cousins pulls the ball down and, for a split second, looks like he might take off running. Then he reloads, off-balance, floating the ball late over the middle. In a game against an already-eliminated also-ran, it never should have come down to the final drive. But once it did, the creeping feeling of inevitability was always there, that the back-breaker was coming, sooner or later. With another disappointing season coming to a close and more questions than answers about the Burgundy and Gold’s future, this may have been the closest the team will get to the postseason for a while. (AP/Alex Brandon)
Maryland's Alex McKay (19), Bairre Reilly (32) and Meghan Doherty, far right, celebrate with the trophy after they defeated Boston College to win the NCAA college Division 1 lacrosse championship final, Sunday, May 28, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
2. Maryland men’s lacrosse wins its first national title since 1975; Women’s team wins third title in four years for historic double

The Maryland women’s lacrosse team is an absolute powerhouse, winning three of the last four national titles and 13 overall since 1986. While they continued to dominate in 2017, the men finally broke through, winning their first title in 42 years. That gave the Terps a sweep of the sport for the first time in school history and marked just the third time any university had accomplished the feat.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates next to Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals after Harper struck out to end Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Cubs won the game 9-8 and will advance to the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
1. Game 5 strikes again

When people pressed me for my prediction of what would happen in Game 5 of the NLDS, I said only two things — that I thought it would be high-scoring, and that things would get weird. But none of us could have predicted the alternate dimension into which that game slipped, producing one of the strangest displays of baseball any of us have ever seen. The end result was all too predictable, though, to any D.C. sports fan.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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James Madison head coach Mike Houston smiles after being dunked by his team following their 28-14 win against Youngstown State in the FCS championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: The Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate after defeating the Washington Capitals in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ultramarathoner Mike Wardian takes on the first leg of the World Marathon Challenge in Antarctica. (Courtesy: Mike Wardian/World Marathon Challenge)
Justin Williams; Evgeny Kuznetsov; Marcus Johansson
Maryland's Alex McKay (19), Bairre Reilly (32) and Meghan Doherty, far right, celebrate with the trophy after they defeated Boston College to win the NCAA college Division 1 lacrosse championship final, Sunday, May 28, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates next to Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals after Harper struck out to end Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Cubs won the game 9-8 and will advance to the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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