New life in Eagles this fall

Sideline Scholars

It's said that spring is the season for new beginnings.ÿBut, for the American Eagles, this fall season brings a clean slate.

A new school year.ÿA new Athletic Director (To Be Announced).ÿ And a new opportunity for many of AU's squads to rise to national prominence.

AU's Golf, Cross Country, Men's Soccer, Field Hockey and Track and Field squads attempt to reach the top of the heap in the Patriot League, while Women's Soccer and Volleyball look to stay there.

The 2003-04 campaign is vital to the future success of AU athletics.ÿFollowing the sudden resignation of Athletic Director Tom George during the summer, the Eagles must rebound from the loss and move forward with a new Athletic Director.

While George did rebuild many of AU's programs and guide the Eagles' smooth transition into the Patriot League from the Colonial Athletic Association, a fresh face running AU Athletics is certainly a welcome addition.

Barry Goldberg's Volleyball squad is the pride and joy of AU, having won consecutive PL titles. Anchored by Academic All-American and Patriot League All-Everything senior Karla Kucerkova, the Eagles will aim to make it three in a row and bring a dominant consistency to AU.ÿ

While Volleyball has been a model of perfection for AU the past couple years, 2003-04 is the year that other Eagle squads must join them.ÿIn order for AU to establish itself as one of the top dogs in the PL, it must join Holy Cross as perennial contenders in every sport.ÿ

The X-Factor in this whole equation is the men's soccer team.ÿPicked to win the PL in the coaches' preseason poll, the pressure is on the AU men, especially after the national attention they received after sophomore Freddy Llerena's injury.ÿ

If the Eagles, who finished in second place last year, can overtake Holy Cross and win the league, they will start the ball rolling for a successful year of AU sports.

While the teams and players will determine how successful AU is on the field, whoever the new AD is will be largely responsible for the success off it.ÿGeorge brought a great deal of stability to the Eagles' programs and has left his successor with large shoes to fill.

In addition to large shoes, George left the new AD with many teams ready to reach the next level.ÿStarting with Soccer and Volleyball this fall, and continuing throughout the winter and spring, many of AU's teams seem poised to reach the NCAA Tournament.ÿ

The Men's Basketball team has come painstakingly close to making the Tournament the past couple years and the Women's team is loaded as well. Dual trips to the NCAA's would be huge for AU.

Following basketball in the spring are the Men's Tennis and Women's Lacrosse teams, who are both coming off PL championships.ÿIn addition, Women's Tennis should contend this year.

While George may have moved on, he left AU in a solid position.ÿSolid may not be what AU fans want to hear.ÿBut this solid includes room for greatness and a future label of Patriot League powerhouse.

If that is to happen, though, 2003-04 has to be the year. It must be a year of excitement, of fan support, of success and must be remembered as the year when American University "took the next step" and reached the upper echelon of college athletics. It all starts this fall.

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