Moments and Performances to Remember
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – There were so many games and moments to remember.
For two basketball teams, history-making runs through the college basketball’s championship tournaments. For a two-time football national champion, a homecoming. And for more than a few talented Miami Hurricanes, individual performances that earned them national recognition and showcased their talents in a myriad of ways.
Before the summer gets any hotter and a new season of competition begins, here’s a look back at the 2022-23 year that was in Coral Gables.
While the Hurricanes opened the season with a rousing 70-13 win over Bethune-Cookman to give head coach Mario Cristobal a memorable victory in his return to Miami, the Hurricanes faced their share of challenges during Cristobal’s first season back at his alma mater.
Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, the 2021 ACC Rookie of the Year, was one of several Hurricanes limited by injuries last fall. Still, Van Dyke finished the year completing 63 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,835 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, safety Kamren Kinchens emerged as one of the top players in all of college football.
Kinchens put together an All-American campaign, finishing the season with a team-high 59 tackles. And his six regular-season interceptions were tied for tops in the nation.
In December, Miami signed a top-10 recruiting class filled with playmakers that will, no doubt, make a difference for the Hurricanes for years to come. And this spring, three of the players who led the Hurricanes in the fall – cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, tight end Will Mallory and cornerback DJ Ivey – each heard their names called in the 2023 NFL Draft.
For the second straight year, the Hurricanes earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
One of the biggest reasons why? A late-season surge that bolstered their tournament resume.
Miami won six of its last seven regular-season matches and during that stretch, rallied to upset then 10th-ranked Georgia Tech in a memorable four-set thriller before the Hurricanes finished the season 19-11.
Senior middle blocker Janice Leao earned first-team All-ACC honors after leading the Hurricanes with 93.5 total blocks, while senior setter Savannah Vach – who became just the fourth Hurricane to total 4,000 assists in her Miami career – and junior outside hitter Angela Grieve earned second-team honors.
Freshman Flormarie Heredia Colon, meanwhile, earned a spot on the 2022 ACC All-Freshman team.
Miami’s soccer team finished the season with five home wins and five shutouts – the most by the Hurricanes in six seasons.
One of those wins? An 1-0 victory over eventual NCAA College Cup semifinalist Alabama in August. Redshirt freshman forward Megan Morgan scored the first goal of her Hurricanes career – and the first of Miami’s season – in the 32nd minute to put Miami on the board, while goalkeeper Melissa Dagenais finished the day with three saves to help the Hurricanes secure the win.
Sophomore Daphnee Lavassas turned in another strong season for the Hurricanes, posting a top-25 finish at the NCAA South Regional Cross Country Championships in November.
Lavassas crossed the line with a new personal best mark of 20:22.8 in the 6K to finish in 22nd place and earn All-Region honors. It was Miami’s best performance in the regional race in 16 years.
A season ago, the Hurricanes made history when they advanced to the ACC Championship Game for the first time.
This season, they went and took things further. Much further.
Miami, which finished the regular season with an 18-11 record, entered the ACC Tournament as the No. 6 seed and after coming up short in its quest to advance to a second straight conference title game, might have been considered by some to be on the bubble ahead of the NCAA Tournament.
But the Hurricanes earned a tournament berth as the No. 9 seed in the Greenville 2 region and went on to put together an unforgettable March Madness run.
In its tournament opener, Miami rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to notch an unforgettable comeback win over Oklahoma State. That was followed by a thrilling 70-68 win over top-seeded Indiana on the Hoosiers’ home floor that culminated when veteran Destiny Harden hit a game-winning jumper with 3.3 seconds left to silence more than 14,000 fans.
That victory gave the Hurricanes their first berth in the Sweet 16 since 1992 – and the first since the tournament field expanded in 1994.
But knocking off one of the nation’s top teams wasn’t quite enough for the Hurricanes.
Miami went on to earn its first Elite Eight berth with a 70-65 win over fourth-seeded Villanova, thanks in large part to a memorable performance from sophomore Jasmyne Roberts who finished with a team-high 26 points and team-high nine rebounds.
The Hurricanes magical run came to an end a game later after a hard-fought 54-42 loss to eventual national champion LSU, but all of Miami’s coaches and players were beyond proud of what they’d accomplished.
“It was amazing to say the least,” said Roberts, who averaged 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds during the NCAA Tournament. “We really made history and we did something that no team at Miami that’s played for [head coach Katie Meier] has done here. We’ve got to hold our heads high on that. It’s meant a lot to have everyone’s support and everyone cheering for us.”
Said Meier, “When they had an opportunity, they kind of kicked the door down. We’ve had other teams that might have been ranked higher…But this particular team, [when] there was an opportunity, there was a little crack, they were like ‘Let’s kick it open.’ And that’s why I’m so happy for them, because they were not intimidated by any matchup, and they just went for it. Nothing to lose, everything to gain. It was fun.”
The Miami women weren’t the only ones to put together a historic run through March.
A season after advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history, the men’s basketball team took another huge step forward, advancing to the program’s first Final Four.
Before that, though, in November, head coach Jim Larrañaga notched the 700th win of his career and in March, the Hurricanes won a share of the ACC regular-season title while posting an impressive 16-1 record on their home floor at the Watsco Center.
Still, despite their regular-season success and having veterans Jordan Miller and Isaiah Wong – the ACC Player of the Year – on the roster, the Hurricanes were picked by more than a couple of college hoops experts to be one of the teams likely to be upset in the NCAA Tournament.
That didn’t exactly sit well with Miami’s coaches and players who, in a pre-tournament video, playfully urged college basketball fans not to pick the Hurricanes when filling out their brackets.
Once the tournament began, the Hurricanes got past Drake – the 12th seed a few of those college hoops experts touted as the potential spoiler of a Miami run – and fourth-seeded Indiana.
Miami then knocked off top-seeded Houston and second-seeded Texas, with the win over the Longhorns proving to be one of the most unforgettable victories in program history.
The Hurricanes overcame a 13-point, second-half deficit to clinch an 88-81 win, with Miller posting a perfect game, shooting 7-of-7 from the field and 13-of-13 from the free throw line to finish with a game-high 27 points.
The victory sent Miami to its first Final Four and while the Hurricanes came up short in Houston after a tough 72-59 loss to eventual national champion Connecticut, Miami’s run was one that won’t be forgotten in Coral Gables – and beyond – any time soon.
“The sky’s the limit for this program. You know, each year, the program’s only going to keep getting better,” said guard Nijel Pack, who was named the Midwest Regional’s Most Outstanding Player during Miami’s run. “There’s a certain expectation for this group now and I’m glad to be a part of this, be a part of Miami history. It sucks that we weren’t able to finish it, but we’ve done some great things for this program and now, each year, I expect us to do even better.”
Said Larrañaga of his team, “They’re so much fun to be around, on the court and off the court…They’ll have great memories of the entire season and some of the great wins we have had. I told them all along these memories last a lifetime. You’ll be telling your grandchildren about it one day.”
The Hurricanes finished the season with a 29-8 record and tied the school record for wins. They were ranked third in the final USA Today Coaches Poll, Wong was named a third-team All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and in June, both he and Miller were selected in the NBA Draft.
Miller went to the Los Angeles Clippers and Wong to the Indiana Pacers.
Swim & Dive
Miami’s dive team put together another strong showing and brought home more than its fair share of trophies during another memorable season.
Max Flory earned ACC Men’s Diver of the Year recognition and was named the back-to-back ACC Men’s Most Valuable Diver after sweeping al three diving events at the 2023 conference championships. He was the first diver to accomplish that feat since 2014. He successfully defended his title on the 3-meter springboard and his win on the platform also marked the seventh year in a row a Miami diver finished atop the podium.
Flory finished the year earning second-team All-America honors by finishing in the top 10 nationally in both the 1-meter and platform events at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships.
On the women’s side, Mia Vallée turned in a pair of All-America performances at nationals, finishing in third place in the 1-meter and in fifth place in the 3-meter.
Graduate student Tara Vovk, meanwhile, captured second-team All-America honors with her 11th place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships.
For the second straight year, the Hurricanes finished fifth at the ACC Championship, tying last season’s showing for the best finish by Miami since the league expanded to nine teams in 2015.
Fourth-year junior Constance Stirling and third-year sophomore Alyssa Bacchus each earned spots on the All-ACC team, with Stirling earning first-team honors and Bacchus earning second-team recognition. The duo helped the first varsity eight boat place fourth in the grand final at the ACC Championship.
Third-year sophomore Sara Byrne capped a memorable season by qualifying for the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships after a third-place finish at the NCAA Palm Beach Regional last month.
Byrne tallied 17 rounds of par-or-better, out of 37 rounds this season and recorded her season and career best finish at the Palm Beach Regional, where she posted a 54-hole score of 214 (-2) at the par-72 PGA National Resort.
Both Byrne and teammate Daniella Barrett also posted top-25 finishes at the ACC Championships in April.
The Hurricanes, who spent the entire season ranked among the nation’s top 25 programs, put together an impressive run through the ACC Baseball Championship to advance to the conference title game for the first time since 2012.
That run – which included a 7-2 win over top-seeded Wake Forest, helped the Hurricanes secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the 49th time in program history.
The Hurricanes went on to finish the year with a 42-21 record with several players receiving national plaudits for their efforts.
Pitcher Andrew Walters, who finished the year with a 4-0 record, a career-best 1.21 ERA and 12 saves, earned first-team All-American honors from Perfect Game, Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, D1 Baseball, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Third baseman Yohandy Morales, meanwhile, earned second-team All-American recognition from Perfect Game after a season in which he hit .408 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI.
And freshman infielder Blake Cyr, one of five rookies nationally with 17 home runs and 63 RBI, was named a Freshman All-American by multiple organizations, including Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA.
In June, the Hurricanes named one of their own – J.D. Arteaga – the 10th coach in program history.
Arteaga, a member of the UM Sports Hall of Fame and one of the most decorated pitchers in Miami history, previously spent the past 21 seasons on the Hurricanes’ coaching staff, most recently serving as associate head coach and pitching coach.
The Hurricanes posted an impressive 11-0 record at home and finished the season ranked fourth in the ITA Southeast Region year-end rankings.
It’s the second straight season the Hurricanes placed fourth in the final regional rankings. The Hurricanes finished the season at No. 50 in the ITA national rankings.
Graduate student Dan Martin, a two-time first-team All-ACC honoree, checked in at fifth in the final ITA Southeast Region singles ranking, while sophomore Martin Katz came in at No. 15.
Martin’s fifth-place finish was the highest by a Hurricane in the year-end regional rankings since Daniel Vallverdu placed third in 2008.
Martin, who earned a berth in the NCAA Singles Championship, finished his six-year college career with a 94-49 overall singles record and totaled 20 wins over ranked opponents, including a defeat of Georgia’s Ethan Quinn, the then-No. 1 player in the country.
Newcomer Alexa Noel proved to be a force for the Hurricanes in her first season in orange and green, posting a 34-8 singles record and earning both ITA All-American recognition and first-team All-ACC honors. Teammate Isabella Pfennig earned third-team All-ACC honors after going 23-15 this season.
As a team, the Hurricanes notched a pair of top-10 wins, including one over eventual NCAA finalist North Carolina State, and finished the season with a 19-6 record. They also earned the third-place spot in the ITA Southeast Region year-end rankings and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Miami was ranked No. 16 in the final ITA national rankings. It marked the 20th straight year the Hurricanes have finished ranked in the top 25.
Track & Field
The Hurricanes wrapped up the 2023 season with more than a few big individual performances at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships earlier this month.
Graduate student Décio Andrade placed fourth in the men’s hammer throw with a final distance of 73.73m, a mark that was good enough to earn help the ACC champion earn first-team All-American honors in back-to-back seasons.
Junior Russell Robinson, meanwhile, posted a final jump of 16.94m in the triple jump, a mark that earned him a second-place finish at the national championship meet and earned him All-American recognition.
On the women’s side, Hannah-Sophia Hall continued her dominance in the shot put.
After winning the indoor ACC title, she claimed the conference’s outdoor championship with a final mark of 17.64 in May. She then threw 17.94m at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, a mark good enough for eighth place in the nation and first-team All-American recognition.