AU top 10 sporting moments in the past decade: #8 and #7
Women's volleyball makes NCAA sweet 16, and men's soccer makes conference record history
Number 8: Women's volleyball team makes NCAA sweet 16 for the first time in program history - 2013
By Zeke Cohen
The 45th-ranked American University’s volleyball team made school history against nationally-ranked No. 14 Duke University on Dec. 7, 2013, defeating the Blue Devils in the Round of 32 to advance to the program’s first-ever Sweet 16.
The game in-and-of-itself was a nail-biter.
In a back-and-forth first set, AU and Duke were in a neck-and-neck fight. Juliana Crum tallied the first kill of the match for AU, but Duke kept the pressure on AU tying the game 4-4. Following a service error from Duke, the Eagles regained the ball and kept attacking. The Blue Devils kept the pressure on AU though, going on numerous scoring rallies in the first set, ultimately leading to a tie game with both teams at 23 points.
Ultimately, AU won the first set 25-23 after Monika Smidova gave the Eagles the lead and the set was secured by a clutch block from both Kelly McCaddin and Smidova.
The Blue Devils took an early lead in the second set, but AU stayed resilient and fought back with the help of two big-time blocks at the hands of Kristýna Lindovská and McCaddin. The Blue Devils then retook the lead until a big Lindovská kill that sparked a 6-1 run from the Eagles. American closed out a close second set with another kill from Lindovská and a pair from McCaddin to help secure a 2-0 match advantage with a 26-24 win.
The Blue Devils opened the third set starting off strong working their way up to a 9-2 lead. The Eagles followed a strong Blue Devil start by going on a 15-1 scoring run to take a 17-10 lead. Duke battled back once again going on a 9-1 scoring run to help narrow the lead to 23-22. The Eagles were able to hold on and secure the sweep following back to back kills from Lindovská for the 25-22 victory. They were Sweet 16-bound.
In 2013, American was coming off the heels of one of the best seasons in school history. The team had a 34-3 overall record and a 15-1 conference record that season. Although the Eagles would follow this game by playing and losing to the No. 1 seed University Texas at Austin Longhorns , their history-making game vs. the Blue Devils in the Round of 32 was enough to secure them at the number 8 spot on the AU top ten athletic moments of the decade.
Number 7: Men’s soccer has best conference record in history at 7-1-1 - 2016
By Spencer Nusbaum
If there is a senior class that has defined resiliency this decade, it is the men’s soccer class of 2017. AU’s seven conference wins in their senior year are a record for the program, and it represented AU men’s soccer’s closest swing at a championship since 2004.
Five players earned All-Patriot League honors that year, with seniors Panos Nakhid, Dale Ludwig, and Michael Cherry taking home first-team honors. Nakhid also took home Patriot League offensive player of the year. Every major statistical category — minutes, goals, assists, and saves — was also led by a senior.
Men’s soccer reached the PL championship game six times in eight years from 2009-2016, but failed to take home the title in any of their trips. The class of 2017 squad came the closest to the title, dropping 5-4 in penalty kicks against Colgate after two overtime periods remained knotted at 1-1.
The Eagles earned clutch wins throughout the season, though, most notably with their double-overtime victory in the tournament semifinals. In the win, senior Jake Garcia tied the game up on a header with two minutes remaining. In the second OT period, senior Chris Fanet knocked in a game-winning corner kick to send the Eagles to the championship.
The team fell to 3-6 the following year as nine members of the senior class departed, showing just how crucial those nine men were to the squad.
“This [result] doesn’t take away from us winning the regular season and hosting the [Patriot League] championship and what this senior class has meant to us,” AU head soccer coach, Todd West, told The Eagle after their loss to Colgate. “I can’t put it into words, but I love all those guys, [the seniors] and they meant a lot to this program and this university.”