Oracle insight: Moments of the year

With the 2011-12 academic year wrapping up, The Oracle looks back at the five best moments of the year for the Athletics Department.

5. Beating Florida

Both the softball and baseball teams notched impressive wins over Florida and both of them did it in Gainesville. On March 28, the softball team outdueled No. 4 Florida, snapping the nations longest home winning streak in a 4-1 win. Sara Nevins pitched a complete game, allowing just one run as the Bulls beat the Gators. On Tuesday, the baseball team matched the feat, toppling No. 2 Florida in Gainesville, 5-3. Five pitchers, led by starter Matt Reed, slowed the Gators offense and Andrew Longleys two home runs powered the Bulls to victory.

4. Championships won

Some of USFs non-revenue sports had breakthrough years, winning Big East championships on the individual or team levels. In February, four Bulls Jared Thomas (weight throw), Monique Williams (long jump), Lindsey Lamar (60-meter dash) and Marqueshia Stallworth (triple jump) brought home conference titles from the indoor track and field championships in New York City. The womens golf team also took home a Big East crown this year, and both the men and womens tennis teams reached the championship matches.

3. The Notre Dame game

The USF football season couldnt have had a better start, as the Bulls beat Notre Dame 23-20 in one of the strangest games in program history. A game with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff ended deep into the night, as South Bend, Ind., was continually pummeled with lightning storms, leading to two stadium evacuations. There was even talk at one point of postponing the remainder of the game to the following day. Jerrell Youngs strip and Kavyon Websters 96-yard fumble recovery on the games opening drive gave the Bulls just enough momentum to stun the Fighting Irish.

2. Mens soccers run to the Elite Eight

Led by superb scorer Dom Dwyer, coach George Kiefer and the Bulls made a run to the NCAA Tournaments Elite Eight, including a dramatic home victory over previously unbeaten New Mexico in front of a capacity crowd of 3,592 at Corbett Stadium. USF beat UCF in the first round, setting up a home match against the Lobos. Overtime was not enough, as USF and New Mexico advanced to penalty kicks tied at 0-0. The Bulls won in the sixth round of penalties, advancing to meet Creighton on a snowy day in Omaha, Neb. USF lost that game in overtime, falling just short of the national semifinals.

1. The NCAA Tournament

The mens basketball teams run to the third round of the NCAA Tournament was nothing short of miraculous. Coming off a 10-win season last year and forced to play downtown while the Sun Dome underwent renovations, the Bulls rallied and enjoyed a breakthrough season, finishing tied for fourth in the Big East. In New York, USF advanced to the Big East Tournament semifinals before falling in overtime to Notre Dame. Selection Sunday carried drama, but the Bulls were selected for the first time since 1992 and sent to play California in a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio. The Golden Bears didnt provide much opposition, as the Bulls earned a trip to Nashville, Tenn., with a dominating win. USFs season would end in Nashville with a loss to Ohio, but not before the Bulls beat Temple to come within one win of the Sweet Sixteen.