Big Red winter sports teams celebrate successes
Upon arrival at Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis., the memories came flooding back for Mike Schafer, the Jay R. Bloom '77 Head Coach of Men's Hockey, and assistant coach Topher Scott -- and few of them were good.
It was in that building, six years earlier, that the Big Red lost a 1-0 game in triple overtime to Wisconsin in an NCAA Midwest Regional final with a berth in the Frozen Four on the line. It was the longest game in program history, and also one of the most gut-wrenching.
But those demons would be exorcised on this trip, when it would be Cornell celebrating an overtime victory after sophomore Rodger Craig scored in the extra session of a regional semifinal against Michigan, the second-ranked team in the country. It was the same Rodger Craig whose only other goal on the season also came in dramatic fashion, proving to be the winner against ECAC Hockey's first-place team, Union, at Lynah Rink.
The game was a microcosm of the season -- a season where nothing seemed to come easy, but the end result was more often favorable than not. Michigan was overwhelming in the early going and scored just 71 seconds into the game. The Big Red regrouped to tie the score and then took the lead 40 seconds into the second period on a shorthanded goal by freshman defenseman Joakim Ryan. And while the team's Achilles' heel of surrendering a late lead flared up again on this night, the Big Red atoned with Craig's heroics.
Cornell's season ended the following night in the regional final against Ferris State, a team that ultimately advanced to the national championship game. But the foundation has been undoubtedly set for the Big Red for years to come. The squad is graduating just four seniors, meaning several key contributors are expected to return.
For the second consecutive season, Greg Miller led the team in scoring, while the junior center was also one of three finalists for the ECAC Hockey Best Defensive Forward Award. Five of the Big Red's top six forwards are expected to return, including Brian Ferlin, the ECAC Hockey and Ivy League Rookie of the Year who missed the entire postseason due to injury. Sophomore Andy Iles was named the team's Most Valuable Player after serving as the team's exclusive goaltender throughout the season.
The team also excelled in the classroom, with Schafer saying that the team's fall grade-point average was the highest the program has seen in his 17 years as the head coach. Iles and seniors Sean Collins and Keir Ross were three of the record 104 student-athletes in the fall that joined the university's 400 Club, an honor bestowed on student-athletes that achieve a 4.0 or higher grade-point average for the semester.
Here's a look at the rest of the Big Red winter season:
Women's hockey: For the third straight season, the Big Red won the ECAC Hockey title and advanced to the Frozen Four (see this March Ezra Update story on the women's team senior leaders). Junior defenseman Laura Fortino and senior forward Rebecca Johnston were named first-team All-Americans. Junior defenseman Lauriane Rougeau was also named a second-team All-American and provided the highlight of the season with a spectacular goal to end a triple-overtime game against Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament -- the longest game in Lynah Rink history. Fortino, Johnston, Rougeau and sophomore center Brianne Jenner went on to win gold medals for Team Canada in April's World Championships.
Wrestling: Kyle Dake, Steve Bosak and Cam Simaz each won individual NCAA titles, giving the program three champions in the same year for the first time. Dake became the first wrestler to ever earn three NCAA titles at all different weight classes, winning at 157 pounds this year. The Big Red finished in fourth place in NCAAs as a team after winning its 10th consecutive Ivy League title.
Men's basketball: Senior Chris Wroblewski became the program's career leader in assists, and junior Johnathan Gray was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year after the Big Red improved in Bill Courtney's second season at the helm to a 12-16 record and 7-7 mark in the Ivy League. Wroblewski was named to the All-Ivy first team, and Gray garnered honorable mention.
Women's basketball: The Big Red posted its highest win total since winning the Ivy title in 2008, going 12-16 with a 6-8 record in Ivy League play. Junior Clare Fitzpatrick and sophomore Allyson DiMagno averaged better than 10 points per game apiece and were both tabbed as honorable mention in the All-Ivy League voting. The team is scheduled to graduate just two seniors.
Men's squash: For the first time in program history, the Big Red won a quarterfinal match in the College Squash Association's Potter Cup, defeating Yale by a convincing 8-1 margin en route to a final national standing of fourth. Thomas Spettigue was named the team MVP with a 12-2 individual record.
Women's squash: Freshman Danielle Letourneau was named the team MVP, a member of the All-Ivy League team and first-team All-American, finishing the season with a national ranking of ninth. Junior Jaime Laird was also All-Ivy and a second-team All-American, and the Big Red moved up the national rankings to finish the year sixth -- tied for the second-best in program history.
Men's swimming and diving: Phillip Truong's preliminary score of 339.80 points in the Ivy League Diving Championships set a program record, and he eventually finished fifth in the event. Harry Harpham was the only swimmer to advance to the championship final at the Ivy meet, finishing sixth in the 200-meter butterfly. The Big Red was eighth in team scoring with 575.5 points.
Women's swimming and diving: The Big Red posted its third-highest score in program history at the Ivy League Championships, finishing eighth with 630.5 points. Freshman Meredith Drummond set program records in the 200-meter breaststroke (2 minutes, 15.01 seconds), 400-meter individual medley (4:21.55) and 200-meter individual medley (2:03.55).
Men's polo: The Big Red advanced to the national semifinals before being eliminated, 28-10, by two-time national champion Virginia. Cornell finished the season 11-8, advancing to the semifinals by defeating Southern Methodist in the quarterfinals to avenge a loss earlier in the season.
Women's polo: The Big Red advanced to the national championship for the second straight year, finishing as runner-up to Virginia. Cornell finished the season 13-6, earning its 11th Northeast Region title in the last 14 years.
Equestrian: The Big Red won the regional championship for the second consecutive season, and senior Bronwyn Scrivens won the program's first Cacchione Cup for top rider in the region. Cornell captured five titles at the regional championships and four reserve titles en route to a second-place team finish at the Ivy League Show. Scrivens and freshman Georgiana de Rham will compete at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Nationals in May.
Women's indoor track and field: The Big Red finished strong, placing second at the Heptagonal Championships in Barton Hall. Falling to Columbia by just 21 points, Cornell student-athletes won the 60-meter dash, the shot put and the 4-by-400 relay. One week later at the ECAC Championships, the Big Red became the first Ivy League team ever to win. Cornell overcame a later deficit in the final three events to claim first place.
Men's indoor track and field: The Big Red had a terrific season, placing second at the Indoor Heptagonal Championships held in Barton Hall. Cornell was just eight points behind first-place Princeton, but the team did rack up three event wins and nine runner-up showings. The next week at the IC4A championships, Cornell won five events and claimed first place in the 40-plus team field. Montez Blair (high jump) and Stephen Mozia (shot put) were good enough throughout the year to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Boise, Idaho.
Fencing: Sophomore Christine McIntosh finished 18th in foil at the NCAA championships and was honored with the NCAA Elite 89 Award, which is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the NCAA finals. Sophomore April Whitney finished 14th nationally, and the Big Red finished 13th as a team. Three Big Red fencers also finished in the top 10 at NCAA Regionals -- Whitney (third), McIntosh (sixth) and Rebecca Hirschfeld (tenth).
Gymnastics: The Big Red had a strong showing at the USA Gymnastics national championships, with three All-America efforts. Senior Melanie Standridge finished second on the beam, junior McKenna Archer took third on the vault, and sophomore Melanie Jorgensen tied for seventh on the bars. Senior Tiffany Chen and junior Sarah Hein were all second-team All-Americans in the vault. Standridge also won the ECAC title on beam, and the Big Red finished fourth at the event as a team.