Part two of the three-part series counting down the top 19 NC State sports moments of 2019 includes postseason runs from NC State Icepack, softball, women’s soccer and women’s tennis, a big draft day for some former Pack football players, and a recent ranked win for women’s basketball.
13. Garrett Bradbury’s drafted 18th overall, leads group of NC State draftees
For the second year in a row, a member of the NC State football team was selected in the first round of the NFL draft as center Garrett Bradbury was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 18th pick.
Bradbury has started every game at center for the Vikings this season. Bradbury’s blocking ability has helped running back Dalvin Cook to 1,135 rushing yards on 250 carries, an average of 4.5 yards per rush, and 13 touchdowns. Bradbury has also helped in protecting the quarterback with Kirk Cousins being sacked less than two times per game on average.
Linebacker Germaine Pratt was next off the board, selected in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Ryan Finley was also drafted by the Bengals and wide receiver Kelvin Harmon was picked by Washington. Wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Stephen Louis, guards Tyler Jones and Terronne Prescod, safety Dexter Wright and defensive lineman Darian Roseboro all went undrafted but signed with a team after the draft.
12. Women’s tennis reaches Sweet 16 for first time in program history
Back in May, NC State women’s tennis made a run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championships after beating VCU and Tennessee in the first two rounds at home. The No. 12 Pack beat them by a combined score of 8-1 to advance to take on No. 5 Duke in the super regional. Unfortunately, the next round did not fare as well as the Wolfpack was swept 4-0 by the Blue Devils.
“Overall, it would be hard to say our season wasn’t a great success,” head coach Simon Earnshaw told NC State Athletics after the match. “We pretty much hit every goal that we had. I told the girls after the match, ’We should’ve set our goals a bit higher.’ We’ve come so far. We were just trying to get into the tournament.”
11. NC State softball reaches ACC semifinals
In what was an up-and-down season for NC State softball in its first season under new head coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift, the Wolfpack saved its best ups for last. Entering the final regular-season series of the season, NC State needed a three-win sweep over Louisville, which was sitting pretty at 35-19 overall and 12-9 in the ACC, to advance to the ACC Softball Championship. The Wolfpack proceeded to sweep the Cardinals in thrilling fashion, with back-to-back walk-off wins to sneak into the tournament.
NC State wasn’t done yet, though. A three-run first inning led to a 4-3 win over Syracuse in the first round, setting up a showdown with No. 1 seed Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals. In what was one of the premier upsets of the 2019 softball season, the Wolfpack shut down the Hokies, winning 3-2 and holding the high-powered VT bats to just four hits behind dominant showings in the circle from then-junior Devin Wallace and then-freshman Kama Woodall. With the win, NC State went from starting off ACC play 0-7 to reaching the ACC semifinals.
10. Women’s soccer takes down Arkansas
The NC State women’s soccer team has reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship three times in the last four years and in 2019 the route to the Sweet 16 was an exciting one. In the first round, the Pack easily handled Navy, but in the second round, the Wolfpack was matched up with Arkansas who, at that point, was the only team to have beaten UNC-Chapel Hill.
The Wolfpack came away from the game with a 2-1 over the Razorbacks. Set-piece goals from defenders senior Kia Rankin and redshirt sophomore Lulu Guttenberger, and four saves from goalkeeper Jessica Berlin was enough to put the Wolfpack into the next round.
9. Kai Crutchfield lifts women’s basketball over No. 9 Maryland
The No. 13 NC State women’s basketball jumped right over its first big hurdle of the 2019-20 season by defeating No. 9 Maryland at home 66-59. Junior guard Kai Crutchfield scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Despite turning the ball over 28 times, the Pack defense held the Terps to just 33.8% shooting and was had Maryland under pressure the whole game. At the end of 2019, the team sits at 12-0, just a season after its historic 22-0 start. Expect the 2020 list to include a couple of moments from the rest of the women’s season.
8. Men’s club hockey reaches nationals
Although not a varsity sport, the NC State club hockey team made its best case yet in 2019 to become one. The Icepack went 27-0-0 during the regular season and regionals, winning its league, the ACCHL, and ACHL D2 regional to earn a bid at the ACHA D2 Nationals in Dallas, Texas. NC State didn’t just dominate the ACCHL on the ice, it also dominated in the hardware department, with players who won MVP, Rookie of the Year and tournament MVP.
The Icepack then held its own in Dallas, dropping two pool-play games to Massachusetts-Amherst and Trine, but sandwiching in a win over second-seeded Northern Colorado between the two losses. What started out as a potentially bright season turned into 27 straight wins, complete domination of its league and region, and a competitive showing on the national stage.