Story by Nathaniel Rivas
Sports fans eagerly awaited the final result of the NBA Finals to see if a third repeat champion would be crowned this year. But this year, the Golden State Warriors did not blow the 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Warriors secured their fifth title on their home court, their second in three years. In the NFL, the New England Patriots also won their second Super Bowl in three years. The Chicago Cubs broke the curse in the MLB. However, repeat champions were crowned in hockey and soccer.
In the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins reclaimed the Stanley Cup with a 4-2 series victory over the first-time cup contender Nashville Predators. Up until Game 6, home ice proved crucial as the home team was 5-0 (three times for Pittsburgh, twice for Nashville). Game 6 almost had the same result. But with 1:35 remaining, Patric Hornqvist located the rebound of a missed shot and hit the puck off the back of Nashville’s goalkeeper Pekka Rinne. An empty net goal with 13 seconds left sealed the victory and another Cup for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh becomes the first team to win back-to-back Cups since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998, according to NHL.com. The organization joins only the Chicago Bulls to win five titles since the 1990-91 season, according to an Instagram post by ESPN. Sidney Crosby led the league with 44 goals and was second in the postseason with 27 goals in 24 games. He received his second Stanley Cup Finals MVP award becoming the third player to win it back-to-back, according to NHL.com.
The Penguins dominated their home ice, outscoring the Predators 15-4. Pittsburgh notched three goals in the first 3:18 of the third period of Game 2. And Game 5 had the sole shutout of this series with a dominate 6-0 Pittsburgh victory.
The soccer world witnessed Real Madrid becoming the first club to win back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles as they defeated Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff, Wales. Cristiano Ronaldo added two goals to his total of 12 goals this season. He finishes the season as the top scorer in the League for the fifth season in a row. Real Madrid claimed their 12th European club title and prevented Juventus from completing the Treble, winning three European titles in one season.
The first half of play remained up in the air despite a goal scored from each side. Ronaldo scored in the 20th minute, but seven minutes later, Juventus answered with a sensational over-the-head kick from Mandžukić. Possession favored Real Madrid at the start of the second half with Madrid dominating the midfield and creating constant opportunities on goal. Casimero delivered the go-ahead goal in the 61st minute as his shot deflected off defenders and into the back of the net. Three minutes later, Ronaldo added a goal to his day, and Marco Asensio scored in extra time.
Madrid recorded 18 shots with five being on target opposed to Juve’s 11 total shots and four on target, according to the match report. Possession favored Madrid with 56 percent. Juve played sloppy at the end of the match with a red card being issued to substitute Juan Cuadrado. Approximately 12 minutes separated Cuadrado’s yellow cards. In the 77th minute, Welshman Gareth Bale entered the game for Madrid and received a warm welcome from his home country.
When a team is crowned champions of the world, that team becomes public enemy number one. The task of repeating may become too difficult for some teams, but the Pittsburgh Penguins and Real Madrid defied both odds and history. Although Nashville looked promising in the postseason, Pittsburgh still reign supreme. Juventus could not complete the Treble, and Real Madrid stamped its name in the history books.