July 16, 2003

The Official, Unofficial Guide to Cornell University Athletics

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About five weeks from the time you read this, you will arrive on the Cornell campus for the beginning of “the best four years of your life.” If you’re not at least a little scared yet, you will be soon. But don’t worry. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll feel right at home in your new home on the Hill.

With one of the largest athletic programs in the nation, there is a flavor to satisfy every taste. Whether you choose to take in the action at storied Lynah Rink or the intimate, inviting setting of the Oxley Equestrian Center, you’re sure to find your very own way to bask in the Red’s glory.

But where to start?

With 36 varsity teams, finding one’s way around Cornell’s athletic landscape can be a little daunting. So consider this your official, unofficial guide to Cornell Athletics.

At the risk of regurgitating from the Big Red Book, you should start your venture into Red fandom with Freshmen on the Field. This annual tradition plays out at the completion of the first home football game of the season, which is on Sept. 20. Aside from being an experience that you will get to share with your new classmates, attending the season-opening game will give you a look at the football team, which will attempt to continue its climb up the Ivy standings during the third year of the Tim Pendergast era.

Cornell also boasts two of the more successful soccer teams in the Ivy League. Head coach Berhane Andeberhan’s women’s soccer team compiled an undefeated non-conference record in 2002, thus earning a berth in the ECAC tournament. This year’s squad is poised for a run to the NCAA tournament.

Of course, the event of the fall that absolutely must not be missed is the always-entertaining hockey ticket line. Season tickets to Lynah Rink will go on sale in early October, an event rivaled only by the tent city of Krzyzewskiville at Duke. Fans will set up camp outside of Bartels Hall well in advance of the opening of the official line, as they vie for the right to obtain seats in the coveted Section B to cheer on the Red icers.

The Red’s football season will conclude Nov. 22 with the renewal of one of the oldest rivalries in college sports, when Cornell plays Penn at Franklin Field. Even though the season-ending contest is away this year, there’s no need to miss it, as it will be aired as part of the YES Network’s Ivy League football package.

That same weekend, Cornell’s Oxley Equestrian Center will play host to the top collegiate polo teams in the country in the annual Bill Field Tournament. It will mark the beginning of the women’s polo team’s quest for a fifth straight national title.

What would college be without a road trip or two? With December comes the start of the basketball season, and the Red’s annual trip to the Carrier Dome.

Always a well-attended event, this year’s trip will be all the more special following Syracuse’s national championship of this past April. In last year’s contest, the Red even had a brief lead, causing the Syracuse bench (and fans) to remain standing for the first two minutes into the game.

Any Cornell-Syracuse event, for that matter, should not be missed. Even though the Red’s Central New York neighbor has dominated this rivalry in recent years, there have been plenty of memorable moments. For example, in last season’s field hockey game between the two foes, controversy abounded, as what would have been the game-tying goal was waived off and an assistant coach was thrown out of the game — all by an official who was later banned for life due to head coach Michelle Tambroni’s protest.

And in the spring of 2002, the men’s lacrosse team upset the then top-ranked Orange on a rainy Schoellkopf Field. Syracuse returns to Ithaca this year in what will undoubtedly be one of the most crucial contests of the season.

On Dec. 6, the hated Crimson will favor us with a visit to Ithaca in what will be the most anticipated event of the fall semester. The fans will be frenzied, fish will fly, and some outstanding hockey will take place. Years from now, you will still remember your first Harvard game at Lynah. It’s the experience of a lifetime.

And just a few weeks later you can return the favor in person, as the men’s hockey team will visit archrival Harvard at the Bright Hockey Center in Boston, known affectionately as “Lynah East.” This annual pilgrimage is a must for the most fanatical of Cornell fans and is certainly worth the trip.

The winter season will begin to heat up towards the end of January, when the wrestling team hosts the Body Bar Invitational in the brand-new Friedman Wrestling Center. This will be among your first opportunities of the season to see junior Travis Lee in action. Lee is coming off a national championship in the 125-pound weight class, the seventh Cornellian to accomplish the feat.

The spring season will begin in early March, when some of Cornell’s most successful teams take to the fields. Men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, track and field, and crew have all ranked favorably with the top squads in the East over the past several years. As the weather gets warmer, the competition will get stronger.

So welcome to Cornell. There’s much to look forward to in the world of Cornell sports. And if you’re still nervous, don’t worry. The Sun will provide previews every season, so let us be your guide. Good luck!

Owen Bochner is a Sun Assistant Sports Editor. In the O-Zone will appear every other Wednesday this semester.

Archived article by Owen Bochner