On New Year’s Eve, we finish our three-part series by counting down the top six moments for NC State sports in 2018. The final part of the series features national titles for swimming and wrestling, a stellar season for women’s basketball and two upset wins over local rivals for men’s basketball. In case you missed them, be sure to check out parts one and two as well.
6. Women’s basketball advances to Sweet 16- The 2017-18 women’s basketball team started just 12-5 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, before catching fire and winning 10 of its next 11 games. The Pack completed the season at 22-7, 11-5 in the ACC, good enough for a five seed in the ACC tournament.
After defeating UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke, the Pack fell to top-seeded Louisville in the
ACC semifinal matchup. Its performance was enough to get a four seed in the NCAA tournament and host the first two round, which it won to advance to the Sweet 16.
NC State was unable to keep the tournament run going, falling to one of the best teams in the country in Mississippi State. Despite the loss, head coach Wes Moore was able to take the Pack to the Sweet 16 for the first time in over a decade.
5. Men’s soccer wins first NCAA Tournament game in 24 years- On a cold and wet night at Dail Soccer Stadium in mid November, the Wolfpack men’s soccer team accomplished a win in the big dance for the first time since 1994. The Pack put four goals past Campbell in a 4-1 win, sealing the victory with a six-minute, three-goal spurt midway through the second half.
The win was a huge step forward for the program in head coach George Kiefer’s second season, as the Pack was able to move on in the tournament and do it in front of its home crowd in Raleigh. NC State would go on to lose to Maryland in the next round, but still put together a historically good season.
4. Men’s basketball knocks off No. 2 Duke- In year one under head coach Kevin Keatts, the NC State men’s basketball team got off to a rough start to ACC play, dropping its first two games. Things looked to be spiraling quickly with No. 2 Duke coming to PNC Arena for game three. Instead, the Pack pulled off a monumental upset win, taking down the Blue Devils 96-85 in front of an electric home crowd.
A late corner 3 by guard Torin Dorn, who had 16 points in the win, that put the Pack up by 7 is a memory that will stick with Wolfpack fans for years to come. The fans stormed the court after Keatts picked up his first ACC win against a Tobacco Road rival. That win sparked an 11-7 regular season in ACC play for the Wolfpack, sending the team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
3. Men’s swimming brings home five national titles- The Wolfpack swimming program continued to flourish at the NCAA Championships in March, as the Pack men captured NCAA titles in a school-record five events.
NC State started the meet out with a title swim in the 800-yard freestyle relay, the second year in a row the Pack took home gold in the event. The team of senior Ryan Held and juniors Andreas Vazaios, Justin Ress and Jacob Molacek broke the NCAA record to claim the national title.
On the third day of the meet, sophomore Coleman Stewart won NC State’s first national title in an individual event since 2006. Stewart took first in the 100-yard backstroke by just .01 seconds. He was joined on the podium in the event by Vazaios, who finished third.
Things really heated up for the Pack on the final day of competition, as NC State won three national titles to wrap things up. Senior Anton Ipsen placed first in the 1,650-yard freestyle, winning the longest event of the meet by more than five seconds.
Vazaios got an individual title in the 200-yard butterfly, and the Pack finished things off with a title in the 400-yard freestyle relay, swam by Held, Ress, Molacek and Stewart. As a team, NC State finished fourth for the third straight season.
2. Macchiavello captures NCAA title with late takedown- Redshirt senior wrestler Michael Macchiavello finished his time with NC State with a storybook ending, winning a national title at 197 pounds. Macchiavello entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed in the weight class, but made a great run to become the eighth individual national champion in NC State history.
In the final at the NCAA Championships, Macchiavello out-wrestled Jared Haught of Virginia Tech, who had beaten Macchiavello twice earlier in the year. With just 12 seconds left in the bout, Macchiavello scored a clutch takedown to win 3-1.
For Macchiavello, the title was the ultimate end to a long journey with the Pack. The North Carolina native wasn’t heavily recruited after winning just one state title in high school, but after redshirting a year in the middle of his college career ended strong with a permanent place in NC State history.
1. Men’s basketball takes down archrival UNC-Chapel Hill at Dean Dome- The top moment for NC State sports in 2018 was an instant classic, as Keatts and the men’s basketball team took down the school’s biggest rival on the road.
Highlighted by the performance of guard Allerik Freeman, who put up 29 points and shot 7 for 7 from 3-point range, NC State beat the No. 10 Tar Heels 95-91 in the Dean Smith Center. After the two teams battled down the stretch in regulation, NC State pulled away thanks to a 3-pointer from guard Markell Johnson for its first win over the Tar Heels since 2015 (also in the Dean Dome).
The win was part of a banner first season for Keatts that also saw the win over Duke, a third-place, regular-season finish in the ACC and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The most exciting and biggest win of the calendar year for the Wolfpack is Technician’s top moment for NC State sports in 2018.