2010-11: Your guide to AU sports

This year, AU is stacked with sports teams that are eager to become NCAA Champions. Becoming a fan of these teams and joining the Blue Crew is beneficial for you, the university and your athletic peers.

The Blue Crew is AU’s student fan group dedicated to out-numbering and out-yelling every other student group in the nation. Membership is free, and the Blue Crew gives away free food, drinks, shirts and other promotional items at athletic events year round. In addition, you can receive discounts at shops around Tenleytown and Friendship Heights with your Blue Crew card.

Paint your chest, pull out your rally towel and slip on that Blue Crew shirt. It’s time for another year of great sports at AU.

Women’s Soccer

AU women’s soccer kicks-off its season with a home game versus crosstown rival Georgetown University. The young team, with just two seniors in the lineup this season, had an 8-2 overall home record last season and will hopefully repeat that success this year.

While at Reeves Field keep an eye on juniors Patricia Bailey and Mikaila Weaver. Bailey scored the second highest number of goals last season, three, and will need to step up to fill the shoes of graduated teammate Kelsey Brasher, who lead the team in goals last year with seven. Weaver capitalized when it meant the most last season, scoring two game winning goals.

Men’s Soccer

Eight newcomers will compete for playing time this season and add a new life to the AU men’s soccer team. After its 0-1 loss to Bucknell in the Patriot League Championship last season, the team is back for another shot at the NCAA Tournament with new feet and energized players.

Head Coach Todd West foresees transfer Chase Humphrey and freshman Tyler Fisher filling the gaps left by graduated players, and recruits Michael Sheinfield and Billy Knutsen vying for the number two spot in goal after Matt Makowski.

Seasoned players, like seniors David Menzie and Mike Worden, should continue to feed off of one another, setting up crowd-pleasing scoring opportunities.

Field Hockey

Last season the AU field hockey team captured its seventh consecutive Patriot League Tournament Championship. Although the team graduated six players, including goalkeeper Alyssa Poorman, an eighth championship title is still within reach with help from seven new recruits and many returning veterans.

The team plays smart on the field and in the classroom, and earned the third highest NCAA Division I Field Hockey GPA for the fall 2009 semester, a 3.5. Quick on the attack is senior forward Christine Fingerhuth, who led the Eagles in goals last season and will surely out-smart the opponent’s defense for more breath-taking goals this year.

Lacrosse

After finishing last season with a 3-3 conference record, the young AU lacrosse team starts this year with a season of experience under its belt and better team dynamics.

The team graduated its two highest scorers, leaving room for new offensive leaders. Look for junior Emily Stankiewicz to rise to the challenge and register needed goals for the Eagles. Stankiewicz will have offensive support from sophomores Samantha Marshall and Emily Burton who ranked third and fifth in assists last season.

Men’s Basketball

The AU men’s basketball team returns this year with new additions to its coaching staff and seasoned players, after ending a hard-fought post-season run that fell short of its third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance last year.

Powerhouses senior Vlad Moldoveanu and junior Stephen Lumpkins, who led the team in points last season averaging 18.1 points per game and 13.0 points per game respectively, are expected to provide the baskets and entertainment AU fans are looking for this year.

In addition, this will be Moldoveanu’s first full season with the AU Eagles, after joining his teammates mid season last year. Pull out your “AU hearts Vlad” gear and get ready for some ball.

Women’s Basketball

Last season the AU women’s basketball team finished 13-1 in conference play, only to fall short of the conference title. Returning this year with many of the same players and five recruits, the team has all the elements for a successful season and deserves a packed house each home game.

Ready for their senior year are offensive threats Liz Leer and Michelle Kirk, both aggressive players who led the Eagles in scoring last season, averaging 12.6 points per game and 17. 7 points per game respectively. The players’ chemistry on the court, combined with offensive support from their teammates, is a recipe for conference success.

Expect to see a familiar face on the sidelines this season, 2010 AU alumna and powerhouse forward Ohemaa Nyanin is the team’s new director of women’s basketball operations. Nyanin’s hire will hopefully help to continue last season’s solid team dynamics.

Wrestling

AU wrestling finished its 2010 season sending five student-athletes to the 2010 NCAA Championships, and placed 14th overall, a new program record. But of the three wrestlers who placed in the championship, only senior Steve Fittery returns to AU this fall.

Fittery placed fifth in the championship in the 157-pound weight group and will surely want another taste of the NCAA tournament this season.

Many of the wrestlers on the team are redshirt athletes who did not compete in a previous season in order to focus on training and schoolwork. With a year of additional practice under their belts, the AU redshirt wrestlers will be back this season looking for a consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship.

Swimming and Diving

AU swimming and diving saw key athletes graduate in Spring 2010, among them 2010 Patriot League Champion in the men’s 100-meter backstroke, Matt Pelletier.

Despite the losses, Swimming and Diving Coach Mark Davin continues this season with a group of model student-athletes. For the third consecutive semester, the men’s team earned the highest grade-point average of any Division I team in the country with a 3.463 in the Spring 2010 semester. The women’s team was fourth in the country in its category with a 3.586 GPA.

Two more reason to catch a meet are seniors Jessica Ballance and Dorothy Isaacs, who return this season with one last chance to break the few school records they haven’t already broken.

Volleyball

This season, the AU volleyball team will have a leg up on its opponents thanks to five senior players who have plenty of Patriot League experience.

Senior Cassandra Ricketts, standing tall at 6 feet 3 inches, had the third most blocks last season and is sure to deny more kills this year. Her classmate, senior Angelina Waterman, led the team in kills last year, with a total of 361, and will definitely be a crowd pleaser this season if she can repeat that accomplishment.

Bringing new life to the Eagles this season are two additions to the coaching staff, Michael Rupp and Ajola Berisha. Rupp played volleyball professionally for the U.S. national team and brings 12 years of experience to the team. Berisha is a 2001 graduate of AU and helped lead the Eagles to an NCAA tournament appearance in 1998.

Track and Field

Back this year for his 12th season with AU track and field is Head Coach Matt Centrowitz, countless runners have flourished under Centrowitz’s guidance and the same should be expected this year.

Senior Colin Eustis, who won 10,000 meter title at the 2010 Patriot League Championship, is back this season and surely has his eye of more Patriot League titles. Another athlete who constantly pushes himself is junior Zach Wright, a high jumper who won AU’s first ever field event title at the 2010 Patriot League Championship. Wright matched the university’s high jump record to win last season, and is back this year with a chance to beat that same record.

Cross Country

AU Cross Country returns this year with a strong pack of junior and sophomore runners.

For the men’s team, the now junior runners had success their sophomore year, with Josh Olsen, Craig Brown and Ryan Williams helped the Eagles place in multiple conference meets. Also expect more from senior Colin Eustis this year, a student-athlete who strides for perfect on the course and in class.

Last year, senior Greta Wicklund led the women’s cross country team and was named the 2009 Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Now, all eyes are turned towards junior Octavia Rinehardt, a veteran runner who placed 35th at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.

kgreubel@theeagleonline.com

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