AU top 10 sporting moments in the past decade: #4 and #3

Christine Fingerhuth leads field hockey’s ‘last dance,’ and wrestler David Terao makes cinderella run in NCAA tournament

AU top 10 sporting moments in the past decade: #4 and #3

Number 4: Christine Fingerhuth and AU Field Hockey run through the regular season - 2010

By Spencer Nusbaum

If an NCAA tournament appearance is the benchmark of athletic success for a mid-major school like American University, only two Eagle programs — field hockey and volleyball — hit that mark multiple times this decade. The 2010 field hockey squad, led by all-American senior forward Christine Fingerhuth, became the blueprint for success at AU.

Head coach Steve Jennings, then in his 11th season at the helm, dominated the prior decade as AU qualified for eight straight NCAA tournaments from 2003-10. The ‘10 run was the dynasty’s “last dance,” signaling the end of an era for seniors Fingerhuth, defender Anne van Erp, midfielder Kirstin Gebhart and keeper Hannah Weitzman. Their 18-4 finish stood as the team’s best record of the decade.

Eight of AU's 11 starters made an all-Patriot League team, with four players on the first team. Fingerhuth also became the only Eagle field hockey player to make the all-America first team in the 2010s, while van Erp earned a nod on the third team.

While Fingerhuth had a dominant run throughout her four years at the University, her 2010 season was a masterclass in offensive skill. Along with her all-America selection, she earned her second PL tournament MVP and PL offensive player of the year awards while scoring the most single-season goals (17) of any AU field hockey player since 1994.

The Eagles’ defensive front was just as impressive as the team’s production on the offensive end. Weitzman anchored the defense with a great season in goal, allowing 1.01 goals per game, the best mark since sophomore Katia Albanese in 1994. 

Their top regular-season victory came with a 3-2 October win over No. 4 ranked Princeton University. Throughout the season, AU outscored opponents 80-26.

AU cleaned up defensive-oriented Kent State 2-1 in the NCAA tournament’s play-in game. They would eventually fall to UConn in a heartbreaking shootout loss. 

Jennings fielded plenty of great teams this decade, but 2010 was the dynasty’s last dance.

snusbaum@theeagleonline.com 

Number 3: David Terao’s improbable NCAA tournament run - 2016

By Zeke Cohen

Wrestling has always been a highly competitive sport, a joy to watch as a fan or compete in as an athlete in the circle. Even though wrestling can captivate, with its mano a mano brute strength slugfests, fans often overlook the sports in favor of one of America’s “big four” sports (baseball, basketball, hockey and football).

Even though many sports fans believed in this philosophy, sometimes unprecedented dominance is enough to force people’s attention toward a lesser-known athlete.

125-pound AU wrestler David Terao’s senior year run, in which he placed fourth in the NCAA tournament and broke the University’s career wins record, is a prime example of this dominance. 

Going into the 2015-16 season, Terao had already amassed 101 wins with 21 falls, 23 majority decisions and eight technical falls. 

Terao led the team in total wins in each of his first three years at AU while breaking the University's single-season wins record with 39. Terao qualified for the NCAA tournament every year he took the mat for AU.

His senior year was a storybook finish to a great career. Terao finished his career going 29-7, breaking the school’s career wins record with 130 victories to edge out the former first-place holder, 125-pound Marc Hoffer (1997-02).

As Terao qualified for the NCAA tournament for the final time in his career, he entered into the event at Madison Square Garden as a 15-seed. Round after round, Terao outperformed his initial seeding placement, beating four competitors before the consolation final. The eventful matches included a victory over second-seeded Virginia Tech wrestler Joey Dance and a viral-GIF-inducing win over Stanford’s Connor Schram. Despite a valiant effort in the third-place match, Terao fell in a 5-3 decision to former NCAA champion and top-ranked Ohio State wrestler Nathan Tomasello

Terao received a standing ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd for his inspiring performance in his final tournament competing for the Eagles. 

Terao was the ultimate underdog that AU fans supported because of his tenacious work ethic and exciting matches during his time at the University. 

His NCAA 2016 tournament run was the perfect way for a great competitor to end his career, and he left AU as the benchmark for future Eagle wrestlers. As such, he earns a spot on the AU top 10 athletic moments of the decade. 

zcohen@theeagleonline.com

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