The beginning of the school year means sports are about to kick back into high gear, so here’s a preview of AU’s five fall sports teams.
» Women’s Soccer
Last season: Coach David Bucciero’s team got off to a very rough start, dropping the first eight games of the season and scoring two goals during that stretch. The Eagles rebounded with one loss in the season’s final seven games to finish at 6-10-3 and 2-2-3 in the Patriot League.
Key Player Losses: Friederike Engel and Brooke Sheppard. Engel was a four-time All-Patriot League First Team selection, while Sheppard was the team leader in points in 2010.
Outlook: AU needs to improve its 0.8 goals per game average from 2010 by developing dependable offensive threats. Brenna Smith and Jenna Stasiewicz will try to fill the huge void left by Engel in the back.
Last season: The Eagles finished 14-0 in conference play en route to a Patriot League Tournament title, a 29-3 overall record and an NCAA Tournament berth. In the tournament’s opening round, the Eagles jumped out to a 2-1 lead before falling to No. 9 UCLA.
Key Player losses: Magdalena Tekiel, Angelina Waterman, Cassandra Ricketts and Katerina Cinkova. Ricketts, Tekiel and Waterman combined for four First Team All-Patriot League selections at AU, while Cinkova led the conference in blocks per game.
Outlook: While this year’s squad will have a hard time replicating last year’s season, it wouldn’t be smart to discount coach Barry Goldberg’s Eagles. In the past 10 years, his team has won the Patriot League Tournament and regular season nine times.
» Men’s Soccer
Last season: As the No. 3 seed, AU defeated the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in the PL semifinals before falling to the Bucknell Bison in the finals for the second straight season. The team finished at 7-9-3 with a 3-2-2 conference mark.
Key Player Losses: Mike Worden and Jamie Davin. The duo combined for 142 appearances during their careers and tied for second on the team last year with three goals apiece.
Outlook: With Seth Goldman, Adem Gokturk, Michael Roberts and Alex Tilatti all returning to help 2010 Team MVP Matt Makowski, the back line will be very experienced. The questions now become can Alassane Kane duplicate his success, and who will fill the void left by Davin and Worden? Sophomores Colin Seigfreid and Cristobal Soto are two players to watch.
» Field Hockey
Last season: AU field hockey finished 18-4, went 5-0 in the conference and won the Patriot League Tournament. A season that saw the Eagles defeat five ranked opponents ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the No. 5 Connecticut Huskies in a stroke off.
Key Player Losses: Christine Fingerhuth, Kirstin Gebhart, Anne van Erp and Hannah Weitzman. Fingerhuth and van Erp were selected as All-Americans, while Gebhart led the team in assists and Weitzman started all 22 games in goal in 2010.
Outlook: Like the volleyball team, coach Steve Jennings’ teams have dominated conference play. The 2010 Patriot League Tournament victory was the team’s eighth straight, and the Eagles have been 40-1 in conference play since 2003. With the top scorers in 2010 behind Fingerhuth being then-freshman Shelly Montgomery and then-sophomore Gina Hofmann, the future again looks bright.
Last season: Both the men’s and women’s teams started their seasons by placing first in the Mount St. Mary’s 5K Duals. The men’s team won the Leopard Invitational, an event in which the women placed second. At the PL Championships, the men finished second and the women sixth.
Key Player Losses: Colin Eustis, Jeff Brannigan and Erin Koch. Eustis and Brannigan were both named to the All-Patriot League First Team as they wrapped up their decorated careers, while Koch used her fifth year of eligibility for a strong cross-country and track season.
Runners to Watch: Octavia Rinehardt and Craig Brown. Rinehardt, a three-time all-conference performer, became the third runner in women’s cross-country history to compete in the NCAA Championships. Brown earned All-Patriot League First Team honors for the second time in 2010.