January 23, 2002

Lady Cagers Rise in Ivies

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There is perhaps one thing in this world that will never be forgotten because it will not let you forget. Like a shadow, it dutifully follows behind, never lagging and never disheartened if you ignore it for a while. No matter how fast you run, you can’t lose it.

Your past is your closest companion. Even in the darkest night, it remains steadfast and unwavering in the face of the present and future as a constant reminder of the misfortunes and disappointments of yesteryear.

Nowhere is this scenario more talked about than the sports world. The Boston Red Sox, Buffalo Bills, and Atlanta Braves all have their own depressing history of squandered opportunity that forms a cursed and dark cloud over their current efforts.

Fortunately for its fans, the women’s basketball team has launched a massive campaign to erase its shadow.

Two seasons ago, the Red patrolled the bottom of the league standings thanks in large part to a host of injuries that forced the coaches to perform a juggling act with the lineup.

Last year, a tough 2-4 start in the Ivies made Cornell wonder if history was going to repeat itself, but the team pulled together to win six of the final eight games, propelling it into to third place, the Red’s highest finish ever for a season.

This year, three games into conference action, the Red (9-7, 3-0 Ivy) is the only undefeated team, holds a one game lead over its nearest competition, and is poised to make a serious run for the Ivy crown. Although the start is a good one, the team remains realistic about the remaining games.

“I think it is early [to think seriously about winning the title]. There are 11 games left in the season, and we haven’t even played Harvard, Dartmouth, Penn, or Princeton. We have only played three teams,” senior guard and tri-captain Breean Walas rationalized. “Especially in the Ivy League, you can’t think that by starting 3-0, you automatically are going to be at the top.”

Head coach Marnie Dacko echoed similar sentiments.

“We still have a lot of work to do. It’s not by any means that we are going to walk into the title. The title is a long shot away, a long shot away, and we have to chip away at it. This is a marathon, and we are just beginning,” she said.

Talk to any team that has not seen much success in the past few years, and it will tell you it’s out to gain some respect among its rivals. The past does play a role, perhaps a minor one, in any team’s future because neither it nor its opponent will forget where it stood in the rankings last season.

“Right now, many teams still don’t respect us as a good team and they think they are going to beat us,” Dacko commented. “I think that works in our favor because I respect everybody.”

Besides the lack of respect stemming from previous years’ performances, the Red focuses mostly on the goals it sets prior to the start of each season.

“You really need to set your goals early, and that’s what we did. Then the team focused [over the summer] and came back in great shape,” Dacko mentioned about setting goals. “We had a nice addition with our freshman class and then everybody worked extremely hard in the weight room. They came in ready to go, and it’s been building ever since.”

“We do have a lot of goals for our team this year, and they are high goals, but I think we are capable of achieving them,” Walas stated.

While the team is happy with its success, it keeps focused on the task at hand.

“We basically take it one game at a time. We just go out and try to win the game we are playing right then before we look at the next game,” Walas confirmed. “That philosophy has helped a lot for our team this year. We are much more focused this year.”

“One game at a time. I really try to keep them focused on that,” Dacko emphasized. “Our goal has been to take every game at a time and not look beyond because every game is so crucial and because we don’t have a tournament.”

“You have to take each game like it’s your last game, and that you have to win that game to win the championship. And even if it is just the fourth or fifth game, you have look at the whole season that way.” Walas said. “The title is in the back of everybody’s mind and that’s one of our goals, but we know that in order to reach that goal, there are a lot of other little goals to reach along the way.”

Archived article by Katherine Granish