We begin in Northfield where after years of knocking on the door, the Norwich women's hockey team busted it down yet again. The Cadets ended a 13-game winless streak against Plattsburgh before the New Year and carried the momentum all the way to a 25-1-3 campaign and home ice advantage for the D3 Frozen Four in March. Norwich rolled Hamline in the semifinals, then got a winner from Sophie McGovern in the final minutes of the national championship game to beat Elmira 2-1 and claim the program's second NCAA title.
On the other side of Kreitzberg arena, the men's team saw the end of an era. After nearly 500 wins, 12 trips to the Frozen Four, and four national titles over 23 years, Cadet head coach Mike McShane announced his retirement in June.
McShane has been replaced by former UMass-Lowell assistant Cam Ellsworth, and the Cadets sit at 6-4-1 in his first season, just outside the national rankings.
In other highlights, Norwich men's lax team made it to the GNAC final for the first time in 5 years, and the Cadet football team dominated Castleton to reclaim the Maple Sap Bucket.
Speaking of Castleton, a pair of the school's programs continued remarkable streaks in 2018. For the fifth consecutive year, the Spartan baseball team ran rampant over the North Atlantic conference, capping off yet another tournament championship with a comically dominant 22-5 win over NEC. A pair of CVU grads, Davis Mikell and Deegan Poland, played large roles and were all-conference selections
For the women's lacrosse team, it was seven straight NAC titles as they downed Colby-Sawyer in a hard fought title game. Emily Cross, a Shaftsbury native and Mt. Anthony alumna, led the way with four tallies in the win. But neither the women's lax nor baseball teams will get the chance to defend their North Atlantic Conference titles this coming Spring, as Castleton moved its athletic programs to the Little East conference ahead of the 2018-19 school year.
Across the lake, Plattsburgh's women's hockey team saw it's remarkable run of four straight national titles end at the Frozen Four last March, but the Cardinals have rebounded early this season and sit 2nd in the country in the most recent USHCO poll
Meanwhile down in the Upper Valley, Dartmouth had a great 2018. The Big Green ski team claimed a second consecutive EISA championship and placed third at the NCAA championships with Katherine Ogden leading the way. The then-freshman became the first Dartmouth skier in 56 years to sweep the Nordic events and claim multiple national titles in the same year. Tanguy Nef and Brian McLaughlin were no slouches, as they won the men's slalom and GS individual titles respectively.
And the Dartmouth football team had one of the best seasons in school history, finishing at 9-1 with eight of those victories coming by double-digit margins. Isaih Swann was a first team FCS All-American for Dartmouth by racking up nine interceptions. But the Big Green lost a late-fourth quarter lead against Princeton in November, costing them a perfect season...and as it turned out, the Ivy League title. Dartmouth became just the second Ivy team to ever win nine games and not earn at least a share of the conference crown as Princeton finished undefeated.
And then...there was Middlebury. The Panthers women's hockey team became the first to ever win three-straight NESCAC titles by taking down Amherst in the conference title game. Unfortunately for Midd, they ran into a local rival in the quarterfinals for the second straight year, seeing their season end at the hands of Plattsburgh
In May the men's and women's tennis teams both made trips to California for the final four. The men ended up winning the whole darn thing as they beat conference rival Bowdoin! It was the program's third national title in 15 years.
After a weather delay pushed the D3 women's lacrosse national championship game to Memorial Day, the Panther women came oh so close to claiming their second NCAA title in three years. The Panthers went through Gettysburg to win that 2016 title, but the Bullets got their revenge this year with an 11-9 victory.
The women's soccer team went farther then ever before in the fall of 2018, winning just their fourth ever NESCAC title by avenging their lone regular season loss against Williams. The Panthers scratched and clawed their way through the NCAA tournament, using penalties and second half winners to reach their first national title game. Up against the Ephs of Williams one more time in the national championship game, Midd caught a break with a 78th minute Eph own goal to force OT, but fell 3-2 in the shootout as Clare Robinson was denied in the final round.
But Midd did add one more natty to the trophy case this Fall. For the third time in four years, the field hockey team ran roughshod over the rest of the country, dropping just one game against 21 wins while averaging more than 4 goals for and fewer than one against per game. The Panthers capped off their season with a third win of the year over NESCAC rival Tufts in the NCAA title game. Across all sports, it was the 37th national title in the last quarter century for the school, and if this year was any indication, that number will likely rise in 2019.