Dec. 30, 2010
The 2010 calendar year was another good one for Cincinnati Athletics. Highlighted by a swimming national championship and a volleyball league championship and All-American, the standard of excellence continued this year. Here is a look at some of the best moments and storylines from 2010, presented in chronological order.
By Shawn Sell
Football Plays in Sugar Bowl (January)
Once again UC Football played on a grand stage, earning a second consecutive bid to a BCS Bowl, with a Sugar Bowl match-up against Florida. While the outcome wasn't what the Bearcats were looking for (a 51-24 loss), UC once again showed its place among college football's elite following a perfect regular season. The trip also featured countless thousands of UC fans making the trip to New Orleans for the game.
Josh Schneider Wins Swimming National Championship (March)
Josh Schneider saved his best for last. At the NCAA Championships, his final appearance as a Bearcat, Schneider set a school and pool record (18.93) in the 50 freestyle to capture an individual National Championship. The individual championship was UC's first in swimming since 1946 and the fourth in the history of the swimming and diving program.
Men's Basketball's BIG EAST Tournament Run (March)
Coming into the 2010 BIG EAST Men's Basketball Championship, the Bearcats were sputtering having dropped five of their last seven games. UC entered the tourney as the No. 11 seed against 14th seed Rutgers. It looked like it may be a short tournament appearance before Lance Stephenson hit the winning free throw with 1.8 seconds to play for a 69-68 triumph. The Bearcat magic continued a night later when Deonta Vaughn made two free throws and a game-saving steal in the final six seconds of a 69-66 stunning of sixth-seeded Louisville. Unfortunately, UC could not make it three straight the next night as West Virginia's DeSean Butler hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give his Mountaineers a 54-51 victory and a spot in the BIG EAST semifinals.
Women's Soccer Starts Hot, Earns National Ranking (August-September)
The start couldn't have been any better. In her third year at UC, head coach Michelle Salmon directed her team to an early 5-0-1 record, the program's best six-match start ever. The run included a shutout of No. 20 Wisconsin and helped the Bearcats climb the national rankings as high as No. 15.
Eric Finan Wins Cross Country Regionals (November)
Eric Finan made UC Cross Country history when he snagged first place at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet. With just over a kilometer remaining in the race, the junior emerged from a pack of 15 runners to seal the win and an automatic trip to the NCAA Championships. Finan finished his 10K winning race in 30:25.4. He was named the Great Lakes Region Athlete of the Year for his victory.
Men's Soccer Stuns UConn in BIG EAST Tournament (November)
After earning the No. 2 seed out of the BIG EAST's Red Division, the men's soccer team still faced a tall task, matched up in the quarterfinals with the No. 9 team in the nation, Connecticut. UC struck first in the 12th minute, but the Huskies answered 15 minutes later, knotting the score at 1-1. The deadlock would remain through the balance of regulation and two overtime periods, forcing penalty kicks to decide the winner. In PK's, UC converted its first four attempts, while UConn connected on one, before being stonewalled by Bearcat keeper Matt Williams to seal the Cincinnati triumph.
Jefferson Ave. Sports Complex Completed (Fall)
The long awaited completion of the Jefferson Ave. Sports Complex came midseason for UC Football, allowing the Bearcats to utilize the practice field for the remainder of the season. In the weeks following the completion of the football campaign, the bubble situated over the full-size field was installed, paving the way for teams to use the space for winter conditioning and practice.
Stephanie Niemer's All-American Volleyball Season (Fall)
Stephanie Niemer cemented her legacy among as perhaps the greatest Bearcat Volleyball player ever this fall with a remarkable senior campaign. The 2010 BIG EAST Player of the Year, Niemer put an exclamation point on her season and career by being named a second team All-American by the AVCA. Along the way, Niemer ranked among the leaders nationally in kills per set and set the UC single season records for kills. Her BIG EAST Player of the Year award was the first ever for a UC player and came after she won the league's rookie of the year award in 2007.
Volleyball Posts Season to Remember (Fall)
The list of accomplishments for the 2010 UC Volleyball team is long. Early in the season, the Bearcats pulled off the biggest win in program history with an upset of No. 5 Illinois, just over a week after toppling No. 16 Kentucky. After the Illinois win, UC knocked off Purdue, who would ultimately advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. In BIG EAST action, UC rolled, losing only once (to Louisville) en route to winning the conference regular season championship. After a runner-up finish in the conference tournament, the Bearcats moved on to the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Western Kentucky in first round, before falling to a familiar face, Illinois. UC finished the season with 30 victories, marking the first time a Bearcat team reached that plateau since 1983.
Men's Basketball Starts Undefeated (November-December) A balanced scoring offense and a smothering defense have led the Bearcats to the best start of the Mick Cronin era at 13-0 (through December 30). UC plowed through non-conference play and the first BIG EAST contest of the year, winning by an average of 22 points per game. The Bearcats biggest wins early came with a 68-34 drubbing of Dayton in a rematch of last year's NIT second round contest and a 10 point win at Oklahoma.
Baseball Wins Joe Nuxhall Classic (April)
Men's Track and Field Wins All-Ohio Championship (April)
Baseball's Andrew Strenge Named Freshman All-American (June)
Josh Schneider, Stephanie Niemer Named UC Athletes of the Year (June)
Cross Country's Katie Lewnard Named Homecoming Queen (October)
Football Keeps Keg of Nails, Victory Bell (October)
Adidas Provides New Football Uniforms, Throwback Uniforms for Men's Basketball (Fall)