AU top 10 sporting moments in the past decade: #10 and #9
Kristen Largay becomes all-time leader in career digs, while Sa’eed Nelson scores 41 points in PL tournament exit
It could be the adrenaline rush overtaking a fan in the heat of the moment. Butterflies in the pit of an athlete’s stomach sitting in anticipation waiting for the moment to come. The overwhelming excitement and reaction when it arrives. History shows us that American University athletics has no shortage of those types of moments.
During the pandemic, sports have been canceled and fans are isolated in their homes. The chance of a 2020 season is still up in the air. So it’s time to take a look back. For the rest of the semester, The Eagle will break down the top 10 moments from the AU Eagles’ last decade.
Number 10: AU volleyball’s Kristen Largay sets a Patriot League digs record vs. Army — Nov. 24, 2019
By Zeke Cohen
Libero Kristen Largay, was one of the key players for the AU volleyball team throughout her four-year tenure at the University.
Arguably, the greatest moment of Largay’s career came in her final conference game, when she lit up the Patriot League Championship game with 23 digs against Navy in a 3-1 win. With her 20th dig, Largay reached the pinnacle of personal achievement, breaking the Patriot League’s record for all-time career digs.
When Largay broke the Patriot League all-time digs record, she passed former Colgate University libero Jackie Adlam. Adlam played for Colgate from 2005-2008.
Largay had broken AU’s all-time digs record a month prior, in a game against Bucknell University.
When she eventually passed Adlam, volleyball Head Coach Barry Goldberg commented on Largay’s place in AU history and her winning mentality on the court.
“I've always been impressed with her tenacity and fighting spirit,” Goldberg said. “A lot of good liberos have that, and Kristen certainly came in here with it immediately. We're going to miss her, but this is part of sports and collegiate athletics. She's been great for us and she has a place with us certainly in our hearts.”
This was a long time coming for Largay. As early as her freshman season, Largay looked destined for stardom, playing in all of the teams’ 35 games while averaging 3.77 digs and 0.86 assists per set as well as winning her first career Patriot League championship beating Colgate 3-1. For as clearly as fans could see Largay’s potential, her former coach had the best idea of her future at AU.
“I can even recall back to her first matches and the first weekend she played, and she played incredibly,” Goldberg said. “You could see that she was someone who went after it.”
Largay built upon the success of her freshman year, carrying that momentum through graduation.
In her sophomore year, she won the Patriot League Libero of the Year award. Largay totaled a career-high 529 digs during her complete 34-game season and collected her second career Patriot League Championship beating Navy in a 3-0 shutout.
During her junior year, Largay finished the season with her second-consecutive 500-dig season and had double-figure digs in 29 of the Eagles 33 matchups that season.
Her senior season, though, was truly the icing on the cake for a tremendous collegiate career.
Largay was named to the Patriot League Second Team, broke the school record for all-time career digs along with the Patriot League record with 2,012 total digs.
If that wasn’t enough records to break in a year, Largay also broke the all-time school record for digs per set averaging 4.21, set the all-time school record of career sets played with 478, and reached 100 career service aces, and collected her third Patriot League championship beating Army 3-1.
Largay broke numerous University and conference records, all while collecting three Patriot League championships along the way. She carved her name into the AU and Patriot League history books during her career and warrants a selection on the top 10 AU athletics moments of the decade.
Number 9: AU men’s basketball’s Sa’eed Nelson scores 41 points in the opening round of the Patriot League tournament
By Spencer Nusbaum
On Feb. 27, 2018, in the first round of the Patriot League tournament, Sa’eed Nelson had the game of his life. As a sophomore, with a depleted supporting cast, Nelson scored the most points by any player who has donned an AU jersey since Russell Bowers dropped 45 points against Harvard in 1980. It was also the most points for an AU player in a playoff game since the team became a Division I program in 1966.
Nelson carried the Eagles offense throughout his sophomore year, but his performance in the first round was his arrival as that guy on campus. Nelson spent the game weaving through double-teams and clogged lanes, routinely out-maneuvering Lafayette’s big men. His individual effort wasn’t enough, though, as AU lost 93-86. The seven-point loss will go down as one of the Eagles’ many hard-to-swallow playoff losses. But, it will also be remembered as a showcase of individual brilliance.
Only two other Eagles averaged over 6 points per game that season. So often, Nelson was called upon to lead this squad. He always left everything he had on the court, in the film sessions, and in the weight room. He played winning basketball. Even across the losses and the long offseasons that followed, Nelson was never discouraged.
On that one night in February, the Patriot League saw everything that Sa’eed Nelson was capable of contributing.