May 5, 2004

Fall Sports Surprise, Disappoint

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The fall sports season witnessed Cornell’s teams achieve varying levels of success. The women’s cross country team narrowly missed a first-place finish in the ECAC meet, while the Red’s gridders narrowly avoided a winless year, and the women’s soccer team managed a .500 record. But regardless of each team’s finish, there was no shortage of excitement, as Cornell’s athletes opened up the year with countless close games and exciting finishes. We look now at some of the fall’s highlights.


The 2003 football season began encouragingly enough for Cornell. After winning a crisp, well-played season opener in front of a packed Schoellkopf on Sept. 20 against Bucknell, however, things began to unravel. A week later, the Red dropped its first game of the season at Yale, a harbinger of things to come. Before it was over, Cornell would lose every remaining game, to finish the season with a 1-9 record (0-7 Ivy), its first winless conference season since 1975.

Injuries were the story for the Red in 2003. Three players were lost for the season before the first quarter of the first game was over. By the time the season ended, Joel Sussman, Chad Nice, Mick Razzano, D.J. Busch, Anthony Jackson, Josh Johnston, Sean Nassoiy, and others missed substantial time. The team’s low point came in the season’s final game, a 59-7 thumping at the hands of Penn on Nov. 22. Three days following that loss, third-year head coach was dismissed, replaced on Jan. 30 by Jim Knowles ’87 after a nearly two-month long search.

Men’s Soccer

The men’s soccer team’s 2003 season was a roller coaster ride from the very beginning. After putting together a five-game unbeaten streak in mid-October, the team dropped its next six games, then finished the season strongly with a tie against third-place Columbia. While the Red struggled to score in the latter half of the season, the team played with tremendous tenacity, finishing the season with a 5-9-2 record (2-3-2 Ivy League). Of the team’s 16 games, only three were decided by more than two goals, including the Red’s 4-1 win in the season opener over St. Bonaventure. Senior tri-captain Ian Pilarski became the first Cornell midfielder to make the All-Ivy first team since 1986. In January, Pilarski was taken in the MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire, becoming the program’s first ever draftee.

Women’s Soccer

The women’s booters finished their season with a 7-7-2 overall record, a 1-5-1 mark in the Ivy League, three All-Ivy selections, and great tans. Literally highlighting the team’s year was the Red’s first trip to Hawaii to face the Rainbows in Hilo. Though the University of Hawaii team featured the No. 3 scorer in the country at the time, the Red defense proved too strong, and Cornell won the match, 2-0. The women won six other games besides that one, though only one — a 3-0 shutout versus Columbia — came against Ivy teams. The league record, however, was not indicative of the team’s ability, as it tied Harvard, lost to Yale, 2-1, in overtime, and relinquished one-goal wins to Brown and Princeton. Three members of the squad also earned All-Ivy honors. Senior co-captain Emily Knight and junior defender Natalie Dew both earned first-team honors, while sophomore Shannon Fraser made the honorable mention list. In all, the team will graduate eight seniors this May, but looks forward to welcoming a solid recruiting class and improving next fall.


Cornell’s volleyball team found almost a perfect blend of youth and experience in 2003, posting one of its best seasons in memory. Ivy League Rookie of the year Elizabeth Bishop and sophomore Kelly Kramer helped to anchor the lineup, ranking seventh and fourth in digs, respectively. Meanwhile, senior Debbie Quibell capped her remarkably successful career by helping the team to a 21-4 (11-3 Ivy) record, it’s most wins since 1989. Cornell had three All-Ivy selections in Bishop, senior Ashely Stover, and senior Jamie Lugo. Bishop was also named an honorable mention AVCA All-Region selection to cap one of the best rookie years in program history. The Red stayed in the Ivy League race until the very last weekend of the season, falling just short to first-palce Penn, while tying Princeton for second in the league.

Cross Country

Cornell’s men and women delivered fine performances in their long distance travels this fall. The women’s team, led by junior Kate Boyles, placed second at the East Coast Athletic Conference Meet, while the men took sixth of 16 teams at the IC4As. Boyles was the overall winner of the women’s contest, placing first with a time of 17:57 — a full ten seconds ahead of the second-place runner. Phenomenal freshman teammate Nyam Kagawima placed third overall with a personal best of 18:17, and senior Emily McCabe rounded out the top ten with her own personal record of 18:30. For the men, senior Dan Hart capped his final campaign with a 15th place finish, good for All-East honors. He ran the five mile course in 25:45.

Archived article by Sun Staff