WHSV Sports: Top Ten Moments of the 2019-2020 JMU Sports Year

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- With all sports seasons at James Madison University cancelled due COVID-19, the WHSV Sports Department of TJ Eck and Alex Flum has compiled a list of the top ten JMU sports moments from the 2019-2020 academic year.

James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci celebrates after a 30-14 win over Weber State to advance to the FCS National Championship game.

The following is a subjective list based off the opinions of the WHSV Sports Department:

Top Ten Moments of the 2019-2020 JMU Sports Year
10. Showalter's One-Hit Shutout
Justin Showalter's junior season with JMU baseball was cut short but the Turner Ashby High School alum was off to a great start on the mound. The right-handed pitcher had a 0.67 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched with his best performance coming February 22 against Quinnipiac. Showalter delivered a masterpiece, allowing just one hit in a complete-game shutout while striking out six batters and walking just one.

9. Swimming & Diving Claims Third Straight CAA Title
The JMU women's swimming and diving team continued its dominance of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dukes claimed their third straight conference title posting a score of 716.5, almost 100 points more than second-place William & Mary, at the CAA Championships from February 19-22. Senior diver Hope Byrum was named Most Outstanding Female Diver at the Meet for the third consecutive year.

8. Dukes get revenge with dominant win over Drexel
The James Madison women's basketball team welcomed CAA-leading Drexel to the Convocation Center on February 28. When the game ended, JMU was tied with Drexel for first place in the league following a 30-point win over the Dragons. Kamiah Smalls, Jackie Benitez, and Kiki Jefferson combined to score 44 points in the victory, which was Sean O'Regan's 100th as JMU head coach. The win was sweet revenge for the Dukes who lost to Drexel, 70-48, in Philadelphia earlier in the season.

7. JMU football rallies for win in top-five matchup
No. 2 JMU outscored No. 5 Villanova, 21-0, in the fourth quarter to rally for a 38-24 win over the previously unbeaten Wildcats in one of the most anticipated FCS games of the 2019 season. MJ Hampton's 83-yard pick-six gave the Dukes the lead for good with 10:48 to play and sent a crowd of more than 25,000 fans into a state of pandemonium. JMU quarterback Ben DiNucci threw three touchdowns while freshman running back Latrele Palmer secured the win with a 69-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

6. Mohr's OT goal lifts JMU men's soccer to CAA title
Niclas Mohr's highlight-reel goal in overtime lifted JMU men's soccer to a 1-0 win over UNCW in the CAA Tournament championship match. The victory secured a second straight conference title for the Dukes and clinched a berth for JMU in the NCAA Tournament. Mohr's goal was the No. 2 play in WHSV's Top Plays of the Year for 2019.

5. JMU football loses to NDSU in FCS National Championship
For the third time in four seasons, JMU football appeared in the FCS National Championship game. The No. 2 Dukes met No. 1 North Dakota State for the national title in Frisco, Texas in a matchup fans and media members had expected from day one of the season. JMU lost, 28-20, in a game that was decided in the final seconds when Ben DiNucci's pass was intercepted at the goal line with eight seconds remaining. The Dukes finished the season as national runner-up with a 14-2 overall record.

4. Gordon sets JMU and CAA softball home run record
Kate Gordon became the most prolific power hitter in JMU softball history with an absolute smash of a home run to left field in the second inning of a home loss to UConn. The homer was Gordon's 47th of her career, which broke the JMU record previously held by Jailyn Ford. Unfortunately for Gordon, the Page County native and the rest of her teammates saw the 2020 season end after just 19 games with spring sports at JMU cancelled due to COVID-19. When the season was shut down, Gordon was leading the nation with a .557 batting average with 10 home runs and 21 RBI.

3. JMU men's soccer earns win over nation's top team
The James Madison men's soccer team welcomed No. 1 nationally-ranked Wake Forest to Sentara Park on Tuesday, September 17. The Dukes sent the Demon Deacons home with a 1-0 loss. Manuel Ferriol's goal off a free kick in the 51st minute proved to be the only scoring of the match. JMU goalkeeper TJ Bush had the play of the night when he made a diving save on a Wake Forest penalty kick in the second half to preserve the win in front of 1,453 raucous fans.

2. Dukes close out The Convo with win
The James Madison women's basketball team gave fans one last, fond memory of the JMU Convocation Center on March 1 with a 69-64 win over Delaware in the final game played at the venue. The Convo served as the home of JMU men's and women's basketball since 1982. The women's program won 82.5% of its home games in the building. Both programs are scheduled to move into the Atlantic Union Bank Center starting in the 2020-2021 season.

1. JMU football earns return trip to Frisco
The James Madison football team earned its third trip to the FCS National Championship game in the last four years with an impressive FCS semifinal win over Weber State, 30-14, at Bridgeforth Stadium on December 21. Quarterback Ben DiNucci accounted for 317 yards and three total touchdowns while wide receiver Riley Stapleton hauled in nine catches for 162 yards and a pair of TD grabs, including a 34-yard Hail Mary from DiNucci on the final play of the first half. Late in the game a celebration started at Bridgeforth Stadium with "If You're Gonna Play in Texas" by Alabama playing over stadium's sound system in reference to the Dukes clinching a spot in the FCS National Championship game in Frisco, Texas.

Honorable Mention
--JMU women's basketball defeats William & Mary to claim share of CAA regular season title
--JMU men's soccer defeats Hofstra in PKs in CAA Tournament semifinals
--JMU women's lacrosse earns overtime win over Virginia Tech in top-25 matchup
--JMU women's lacrosse dominates Penn State in top-25 matchup
--JMU women's soccer makes run to CAA Championship match with two postseason wins
--JMU men's basketball defeats Charlotte in season opener