My Moments: Zack Sluka
Even with no live sports on, WZBC Sports is committed to producing engaging content for our readers. We have lots of new and exciting ideas to keep our readers entertained until sports can return, so stay tuned.
This is a new series called “My Moments” where WZBC board members share their favorite sports memories.
Next up is one of our Sports Saturday directors Zack Sluka. Here are his moments.
MLB: Nationals vs. Mets – August 9, 2019
It’s Outta Here! It’s Outta Here! As any Met fan knows, when Gary Cohen, the play-by-play voice of the team, repeats his infamous line twice, something big just happened. Not just another home-run in the 4th inning to take the lead or a consolation shot in the 8th to bring the team within a few runs. It has to be something big. And man, was this one big! With the Mets down 3 runs headed to the bottom of the 9th against reliable closer Sean Doolittle, the team’s chances of making it 16 wins in their last 17 games looked slim. That was until Todd Frazier (he’s from New Jersey by the way) stepped to the plate. With JD Davis and Wilson Ramos watching on the base-paths, the Todd Father sent out a rope to left field that stayed just inside the foul pole, allowing Gary to unleash his rare (but always welcome) double home-run call. A few batters later, Michael Conforto hit a line drive over Adam Eaton’s head in right field to score Juan Lagares, and the Mets capped off a 9th inning comeback to keep the momentum going in the summer months of the 2019 season. Now, while I am a die-hard Met fan, I do remember the details of this game more vividly than the details of other games, and why is that the case? Well, I was actually in the ballpark for this game! Feeling the roar of the crowd like it was October and seeing Marcus Stroman, probably my favorite pitcher in the MLB, make his Citi Field debut made for an experience at the ballpark that I will never forget. Now it’s time to get our writing director, JD Biagioni to Queens so he can experience the magic of the better New York ballpark!
Soccer: Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich – 2019-20 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st leg
While my study abroad experience taking place this spring was cut short, I was still lucky enough to have gotten a bucket list trip in to London’s Stamford Bridge, the home of my favorite soccer club, Chelsea. Before crossing the Atlantic in January, so many people told me about the magic of European soccer games.
“You’ll never be a fan of American sports again.”
“The results mean everything to them.”
“The chanting lasts from the first whistle until the last one.”
After taking in a Tuesday night Champions League match against one of the world’s best clubs, Bayern Munich, I can confirm that the experience of watching European soccer is like none other. From that aforementioned first whistle, the Chelsea and Bayern faithful each began to sing, chant, and roar all the way until the play stopped after 90 minutes. Unfortunately though, the result did not go in the favor of my favorite club, Chelsea, as they suffered a resounding 3-0 defeat, but I was so enamored by the environment that the result didn’t weigh as heavy on me as I had previously thought it would. Instead, I walked out of the Bridge with a scarf around my neck and a game program in my hand wondering when the next time I would be able to see a match here would be.
NBA: Start of NBA Free Agency – July 1, 2019
As a Nets fan, there haven’t been too many moments on the court to celebrate during my lifetime, but a recent development happening off the court has given me reason to believe that the future will be littered with on-court memories. Now, I know that the largely Boston-based readership of this article may not be as optimistic about the situation as I am, but on July 1st, 2019, the Brooklyn Nets achieved what I believed to be the impossible in landing Kyrie Irving and then later in the day, Kevin Durant. Kyrie’s first season with the Nets has been filled with injuries, and Kevin Durant, who tore his Achilles in the NBA Finals, has yet to don the black and white, but my hopes still prevail. When the 2020-21 season kicks off, whenever that may be, the Nets will hopefully be among the NBA’s best teams, with that Brooklyn swagger that has come to define the team in recent years. Surely, this team is far removed from its memorable New Jersey days with Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, and Kenyon Martin at the helm, but here’s to hoping that Kyrie and KD can bring Nets fans like myself back to the days of winning (and maybe throw in one or two titles in there as well).
NCAA: UNC vs. Boston College – 2019 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Final Four
I know that JD wanted to steer clear from the beaten path when writing his NCAA moment, but this is definitely not my goal in writing about Boston College’s women’s lacrosse team. I genuinely believe that this women’s lacrosse game between BC and UNC was the best BC game I have ever watched across all sports, and I don’t think it’s even close. This matchup between two of the nation’s best was layered with storylines coming in, with the ACC rivals splitting two previous matchups over the course of the season. First, it was the Eagles in the regular season prevailing over the Tar Heels, in Chapel Hill, securing a key ACC road win that would carry a ton of weight heading into postseason play. Yet, the Tar Heels would later respond in no small way, defeating the Eagles in the ACC Championship game that was played in front of thousands of BC fans at Alumni Stadium. So, this Final Four matchup between these two rivals was clearly meant to decide it all – who would get the last laugh and the chance to compete against #1 Maryland for the National Title? If you thought this game was going be anything other than a nail-biter that would keep fans of both teams on the edge of their seats from start to finish, I honestly don’t know what you were thinking.
Initially, this game looked like it was picking up right at the end of the latest installment between the two teams in Chestnut Hill, as the Tar Heels jumped out to a 6-0 lead. But honestly, we can all admit this in hindsight, including you UNC fans out there, we knew the likes of Sam Apuzzo, Dempsey Arsenault, and Kenzie Kent were not going to let their seasons end like this. Instead of curling up into defeat, the Eagles rallied at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to grab the lead. UNC, to give credit where it is due, behind the then-sophomore-sensation Jamie Ortega, traded blow-for-blow with the Eagles following BC’s run, sending the neutral-site game in Maryland into overtime. And wow, this is where the fun of this game reached its climax. Each team was able to muster a few shots on goal during the first OT, but neither team could find the back of the net to win the game in this golden-goal format. This would be the case until the 2018 Tewaaraton Award winner, Sam Apuzzo found a shooting lane in 2OT and buried the ball into the back of the net. Sam let her stick soar into the air, and the rest of the Eagles rushed towards her in celebration. While the Eagles would later fall short to the Terps in the title game, this game against the Heels should not be forgotten, but rather be celebrated for many years to come.