The class of ’02 has logged three seasons of playing time; some already have gained National Championships, some have national records, and most are climbing up the Cornell all-time record lists. In three years of varsity sports, these students have endured it all — last second wins, devastating losses, and painful injuries. Here is a list of the top ten junior athletes (A-Z, of course) out of a selection pool tougher than the one to get into this school. Just think, if this is what they have done so far, imagine what is going to happen next year!
Justin Cynar, Men’s Lacrosse
Last year, Justin Cynar defied all logic during Cornell’s monumental win over then No. 1 Syracuse, making startling save after save against a tenacious Orange attack. A year older now, he’s been no less impressive for Jeff Tambroni’s squad. Lauded by his teammates as one of the best goalies in the Ivy League, if not the nation, Cynar has been the glue of the Red’s veteran defense. In the unofficial Ivy League title game against Princeton, Cynar kept the Red’s championship hopes alive for nearly the entire game, making 15 saves. And, he’s put many a win Cornell’s column, stopping point blank shots in the waning minutes of several games.
Carrie Giancola, Women’s Lacrosse
The lacrosse team is awesome. No one opponent has scored in double digits against the Red this season. Not even one of the nationally-ranked teams Cornell has battled. This is due to the astounding defensive skills of goalie Carrie Giancola. Known as “G,” she has emerged as one of the nation’s leading net-minders, and she’s only 5-2. Her remarkable skill and speed have overcome her stature, and proved she’s one of the best. Starting every game, she has 96 saves and a .568 save percentage. She has racked up a 6.10 goals against average. In the huge Ivy match-up with seventh-ranked Yale, Giancola came up with 14 saves, helping the Red win 11-7. She is one of the most expressive members of this national powerhouse squad, driving her team to win. She is the ultimate clutch player, coming up with key saves at critical moments.
Olga Puidgemont-Sola, Women’s Squash
The honors are endless for Cornell’s top squash player. Olga Puidgemont-Sola finished the year ranked fifth in the nation. She was named to the WISA All-Tournament team and earned All-American honors for her 5-3 record in the year-end championships. She finished 14-5, with a career record of 49-14. She brought the Red to a regular season and a Howe Cup fifth place finish. Cornell finished third in the Ivy League, behind Harvard and Penn. Puidgemont-Sola brought the Red up from an eighth-place ranking last year to fifth this year. This is her third year as an All-American, bringing Cornell into the national limelight.
Ricky Rahne, Football
Quarterback Ricky Rahne led the Red to second place in the Ivy League this season. He is the gun in Cornell’s pass-happy team. The squad went 5-5 (5-2 Ivy) with Rahne at the helm for all the games. He finished the year with a 111.21 efficiency rating, amassing 2944 yards and 18 touchdowns. He averaged 294 yards per game. He also was the team’s second leading rusher, averaging 9.2 yards per game. Rahne set records for total offensive plays in a game and in a season. Amassing 5726 passing yards so far at Cornell, Rahne has already broken the team record. This offensive powerhouse totaled 250 yards in eight of 10 games. Rahne is the clutch guy, as C.U. trailed in the fourth quarter in all five victories this year, winning the first three by one point. The QB received the team’s MVP award and was named to the honorable mention All-Ivy team at the end of the season for his efforts.
Jaimee Reynolds, Women’s Volleyball and Women’s Lacrosse
The pros have Deion as their two-sport star. Cornell has Jaimee Reynolds. She is an amazing all-around athlete, with lightening-quick speed, sharp accuracy and endless ambition. In volleyball, she helped with the Cinderella season, with the Red finishing one game shy of the Ivy title. She had a .329 attack percentage and 19 blocks, of which eight were solo. In lacrosse, she dominates the field. She is the team’s leading scorer, with 24 goals, and second in assists with nine. Reynolds leads the team in ground balls (52) and interceptions, with six. She even totaled six goals in the 15-6 win over Rutgers. The midfielder has scored three or more points in six games this season. With Reynolds at the helm, the team has beaten six ranked teams and has a chance at a berth in the NCAA tournament. She has helped make Cornell a nationally known and feared team . . . in two sports.
Eric Rico, Baseball
The brightest aspect of the baseball team has been the play of Eric Rico. He is one of the most versatile players on the team, leading the Red through his dominating play. Starting all 36 games, he is batting .379, with 33 runs and 50 hits. Those numbers lead the team, as well as his 30 RBIs and his .682 slugging percentage. He usually plays right field, but also DHs and pitches. He has the second-lowest ERA at 5.04, behind junior ace Brendan McQuaid’s 2.86. Rico is in the team’s top three for homers, wins and strikeouts. He made the Ivy Honor Roll after back-to-back player of the week honors. He also pitched the game during Spring Break when Cornell lost 2-1 to powerhouse Miami.
Melissa Riggs, Women’s Polo
Cornell’s national champions — the women’s polo team. Melissa Riggs led her team to a second straight top-ranking this year. In the final match-up against Virginia, Riggs scored 12 goals, half of her team’s total of 24. Afterwards she was named the No. 1 player in the country. No. 1 if you missed that. Her performance also earned her All-American status. Last week, she garnered the ROTC Athlete of the Week honors as well. In her career at Cornell, she is 39-2-3. She brings an offensive zeal to the team, setting the tone of the game with early scoring. Riggs looks to complete her tenure at Cornell with a three-peat next season.
Jim Stanec, Men’s Wrestling
Jim Stanec was the last wrestler to finish. Unlike other sports, this made him the best. He advanced in the NCAA tournament to finish seventh in the 174-pound weight class, ending the year with a win. His tremendous effort earned him All-American honors. He led Cornell, which finished 28th in the tournament. Stanec fell earlier in the EIWA championships, but still qualified for the NCAAs. His skill helped the Red earn a piece of the Ivy title. This All-Ivy pick won matches in the final five regular-season games. Stanec, who has only played three seasons, will return next year to lead the Red.
Deborah ‘Do’ Stevens, Women’s Basketball
Named Deborah, she goes by Do. She plays basketball, but calls herself a baller. She can say whatever she wants, after leading the Red to a third place Ivy finish. At 11.5 points per game, Do was the team’s leading scorer. She was the top scorer in 10 of the team’s 15 wins. She also had an amazing 30-point game and two 20-point games during the year. She played through injuries, with a sore back and ankle. Do finished the year with a .328 three-point percentage and averaged 4.6 rebounds per game. She is the heart of the team, aggressive on the boards and always moving to set up plays and make shots available. She was named second-team All-Ivy, the only member of the team to do so. Do also earned honors as the MVP in the Cornell Classic Invitational. Twice during the season, Do was named Ivy Player of the Week for her play.
Matt Underhill, Men’s Hockey
The hockey team had another stellar season, reaching the championship game in the ECAC tournament. How did it get there? Defense. And who controls the net? Matt Underhill. Th
e junior goalie had a phenomenal season, playing 25 of 33 games. He racked up a .928 save percentage and a 1.88 goals against average. The save percentage puts him fourth on the all-time Cornell list and ranked him fourth in the nation. His G.A.A. is fifth all-time and third in the nation. All without a scholarship. Underhill had 45 saves, his best effort of the season, in the ECAC semifinal win over rival Harvard. His stellar play earned him an All-Ivy pick and an honorable mention ECAC selection.
Archived article by Cammy Kandiko