August 27, 2002

Falling Into Cornell Athletics

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Most people associate the beginning of the school year with the waning of summer, the shortened hours of daylight or huge back-to-school sales at every retail store in the hemisphere.

Those of us in The Sun sports section associate the start of the academic year with the beginning of the fall sports seasons. Football, field hockey and soccer practices mean summer has ended and classes, exams and papers are about to begin.

Media guides arrive in the mail, preseason polls are released and ESPN’s Lee Corso is resurrected for another five months.

Here on East Hill we wait with anticipation for the fall varsity athletes to take their positions on the field, put it all on the line and represent their university in Division I competition.

You can’t walk through the athletic campus without crossing a football player heading to lift, a cross country runner jogging across your path or a soccer player carrying a ball to the practice fields.

In a few short weeks these weeks of preparation will manifest themselves in games, matches and races. Already there are expectations of the season to come.

After a disappointing 2-7 record last year, the football team hopes to improve upon that mark. Head coach Tim Pendergast will have a large talent pool in his first full recruiting class. Helping along the way is junior quarterback D.J. Busch, a transfer from Colorado State University, who is competing for the starting job.

The offense has a deep corps of receivers who will help lead the Red down the gridiron. Senior Keith Ferguson is looking to capture the all-time career reception and career yardage records. He is currently third on the list in both.

The women’s volleyball team has been among the top teams in the Ivy League for the last two years and many think this third season may be the charm for the team searching an elusive Ivy title. Head coach Christie Jackson has called the group “the most talented class I’ve brought to Cornell, and they’re joining the most talented core of players I’ve ever had returning,” in a press release.

The field hockey team has seven new members joining the squad, lifting it into the new season. They will join First-Team All-Ivy selection junior Carissa Mirasol and honorable mention senior Sarah Rosenbaum under head coach Michelle Tambroni’s leadership. It will enter the fall in good shape.

Ranked No. 22 in the nation and awaiting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the men’s soccer team was snubbed during selection time. The team has only lost two starters, maintaining the core of the successful 2001 squad. Last year’s captain, then-junior Liam Hoban, will lead the team in the fall campaign.

In his second year as coach, Berhane Andeberhane helped the women’s soccer team improve to a 4-8-3 record. This year the team is poised to challenge its Ivy foes. Senior captain Sarah Olsen has been identified as one of the top players in the league. Sophomore goalie Katie Thomas should be more comfortable between the pipes than she was last year, when she earned an All-Ivy honorable mention.

The women’s cross county team placed second at the heptagonal championships. Losing Lena Mathews ’02 to graduation will hurt, but the team has plenty of young runners. The team placed sixth at the ECAC championships and 30th at the NCAAs. Sophomores Kate Boyles and Alyssa Simon, juniors Jessica Parrott and Lorraine Ricci and senior Carlan Gray will keep Cornell afloat.

Perhaps the most memorable moment from last year’s men’s cross country season was when Max King ’02 lost his shoe during the NCAAs. Aside from King’s mishap at nationals, the men’s team, led by head coach Nathan Taylor’s crew, came within a minute of first-place Bucknell at the IC4A championships. The team should be in good hands again this year with senior Dan Dombroski pacing the pack.

Sprint football usually takes the back seat to the varsity football squad, but the 150-and-under pounders have a promising season ahead. Head coach Terry Cullin, an institution at Cornell, holding the same position his father once had, always manages to field a competitive team.

These teams are savoring the last days of summer, winding down until the season openers. Many have been waiting the last 10 months for their next game, though. Soon we will see whether the expectations from the offseason will be met or exceeded. Win or lose, it should be an exciting fall.

Archived article by Sun Staff