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Big Red successes make 2010 a winter to remember

Cornell's Louis Dale drives on Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins in the Sweet 16

Robert Barker/University Photography

Senior guard Louis Dale drives to the basket during the Sweet 16 game against Kentucky at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse March 25.

Women's hockey team

Jason Koski/University Photography

The unranked women's hockey team celebrates the victory over No. 1-ranked Mercyhurst in the NCAA semifinals. The Big Red fell to No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2 in triple overtime, in the finals -- the longest tournament game in women's hockey history.

Kyle Dake

Sports Information/Provided

Freshman Kyle Dake is national champion at 141 pounds. The wrestling team finished a best-ever second in the NCAA tournament.

Katherine Thompson

Sports Information/Provided

Katherine Thompson, Beverly Yang and Adelaide McDonnell competed at the NCAA fencing tournament, March 25-26 in Cambridge, Mass.

Men's and women's polo teams with Eastern Regionals trophies

Robert Constant/Provided

Both the women's and men's polo teams captured the Northeast Regional titles. The women are seeded No. 1 in the national tournament and will play April 7. The men are a No. 4 seed and will compete April 6. The tournament is being held at the University of Virginia.

The winter of 2010 will certainly be etched in the mind of every Cornell fan. There was a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 by men's basketball, a pair of national runner-up finishes in wrestling and women's ice hockey, a conference title and NCAA tournament appearance in men's ice hockey, and national championship appearances in women's fencing and men's and women's polo.

Men's basketball made an unprecedented run to the NCAA championship's Sweet 16, becoming the first Ivy League school to advance to the second weekend since the field was expanded to 64 (now 65) teams in 1985. As if winning an Ivy League-record 29 games and setting numerous Cornell records on the court wasn't good enough, the Big Red became media darlings after easily dispatching a pair of top 20 teams in Temple and Wisconsin to advance. Though top-seeded Kentucky, the standard-bearers of college basketball for more than 100 years, proved too much, a filled-to-the-brim Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., gave the team's eight seniors a send-off no one could have expected just four seasons ago.

While men's basketball was pegged early on as capable of having a special season, the women's hockey team had a true breakout season. Cornell, under the direction of national coach of the year Doug Derraugh '91, accomplished numerous firsts in program history on the way to a spot in the national title game. The Big Red claimed the regular season ECAC Hockey championship, with a 4-3 victory over Clarkson in overtime on March 7, and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

The Big Red wasn't done there, winning at arch-rival Harvard, 6-2, on March 12, and knocking off top-seeded Mercyhurst, 3-2 in overtime, in the national semifinals March 19 in Minneapolis. Then, in a truly epic national title game, Cornell skated with Minnesota-Duluth through three overtime periods before falling, 3-2.

While women's ice hockey is newly in position to stand among the nation's best, Cornell wrestling has had a head start, finishing in the top 10 at NCAAs in six of the last eight seasons, including four years in the top five. Behind a national championship run by freshman Kyle Dake at 141 pounds and a second-place finish by junior Mack Lewnes at 174 pounds, the Big Red finished in second place in the team standings. Besides Dake and Lewnes, senior Troy Nickerson and junior Cam Simaz also earned All-America honors.

Cornell won its eighth-straight Ivy League title and extended its conference dual meet win streak to 43 matches in sporting a perfect 5-0 mark in 2009-10. Head coach Rob Koll, who has built one of the nation's most consistently dominant programs, isn't done either. Six of Cornell's eight NCAA qualifiers will return next season to East Hill.

Like wrestling, men's hockey continued to cement itself as a perennial national power, capping the 2009-10 season with its first ECAC Hockey tournament title since 2005 when it defeated Union, 3-0, March 20 at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. The Big Red earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, where it suffered a first-round loss to New Hampshire. The season had plenty of high points, as three players (seniors Colin Greening and Blake Gallagher and junior Riley Nash) each reached the 100-point mark for their careers. Senior goaltender Ben Scrivens also posted the third-longest shutout streak in NCAA history during the season, finishing at 267:11, with three straight shutouts in the Big Red's ECAC Hockey playoff run.

The winter has long belonged to men's hockey and the polo teams, who have combined for 23 national titles. The women blazed through the regular season with a 15-1 record and won the Eastern Regional title. The men's team also won Easterns and finished the regular season with a 14-5 mark. Both squads will enter the national tournament among the top seeds.

The Cornell women's fencing team posted a 14th-place finish in the NCAA tournament, using scorers in both saber and epee to place ahead of fellow Ivy schools Yale and Brown.

With a winter like 2010, you'd think no one would want to move into spring.

Well, except perhaps defending Ivy League championship teams in men's lacrosse, baseball, softball and men's track and field.

Related links:
Cornell Chronicle coverage of run to Sweet 16
Cornell's post-season Facebook page

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