Krysten Mayers ’18 finished the season as Cornell’s all-time leader in career goals (42) and points (99), breaking both previous records with an overtime goal in a 2-1 win over Brown in October. Mayers was one of four Big Red players to earn post-season honors from the Ivy League, the most since 2014. Defensive anchor Sam McILwrick ’18 was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy pick, while Mayers and Maddie Henry ’20 were second-team honorees and Maddy Conklin ’20 earned honorable mention. In addition to the players’ success, head coach Donna Hornibrook collected her 300th career win in the season finale as Cornell finished 10-6, marking double-digit wins for the fifth straight season.
The Big Red got off to its best start in more than 45 years, winning its first seven games. The squad’s most dramatic victory came against Harvard. After the Crimson took a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Big Red tied it up early in the second. The score remained 2-2 throughout most of the second and third periods before defenseman Alec McCrea ’19 slipped in a shot with just 2.3 seconds left on the clock.
For the second straight season, Cornell sent a player to the finals of the Inter-collegiate Tennis Association Northeast Region-als. David Volfson ’19 didn’t give up a set in five straight wins before losing the championship match. Volfson reached the semifinals as a freshman in 2016, but missed the tournament last season due to injury; it was won by Chris Vrabel ’17.
Cornell finished 12th at the Atlantic Coast Championship Regatta, its best showing since earning varsity status in 2012. The tandem of Gabby Rizika ’20 and Tara Bergstrom ’18 were 13th in the A Division, posting top 10 finishes in eight races including one in first place.
The Big Red enjoyed its best Ivy finish since 2006, going 8-6 in conference play to end up tied for third, and finishing the regular season 12-11. Trudy Vande Berg was named Ivy Coach of the Year while three players earned post-season honors. Kiley McPeek ’18 was a first-team All-Ivy pick—Cornell’s first since 2008—after leading the league in digs per match (which counts the number of times a player makes the initial defensive contact with the ball). Jenna Phelps ’20 was a second-team selection after leading the Ivies in service aces per set and coming in second in blocks. Kit McCarty ’18 (seen above in a September game against Columbia that the Big Red won 3-1) received honorable mention for the second time.
Priyanka Shah ’18 provided two of the season’s biggest highlights, reaching the round of 16 in the ITA Northeast Regional and finishing second in the top flight of the Cissie Leary Invitational. Shah, who was seeded fifth at the Invitational, upset the top seed in the semifinals but lost the three-set championship match, which lasted three and a half hours.
Wins over Harvard, Brown, and Princeton gave Cornell its first three-game Ivy winning streak since 2005 and put the Big Red in a tie for first place in November, a position it hadn’t been in for decades. While the win over Brown was dominant (34-7), the other two were comeback victories, with Cornell rallying from a 14-0 deficit against Harvard to win 17-14 and outscoring Princeton in the fourth quarter (13 points to none) to win 29-28. It was Cornell’s first win over Harvard since 2005 and its first against Brown since 2007.
Two former Cornell rowers earned silver while competing for Team USA at the 2017 World Championship in Florida. After taking home gold in women’s quadruple sculls in 2015, Tracy Eisser ’12 switched to pairs in 2017 and finished second, losing only to the current world record holders. In the men’s eight, Alex Karwoski ’12 (whose boat finished fourth at the 2016 Olympics) also brought home silver, finishing behind Germany. Big Red men’s rowing was represented at the worlds by three other alumni—Michael Colella ’16, Christopher Lambert-Rogers ’15, and Jack Ruske ’17—who finished out of medal contention.
Joakim Ryan ’15 became the 30th Big Red alum to play in the NHL when he suited up for the San Jose Sharks against the Buffalo Sabres on October 12. He saw more than 21 minutes of ice time in his debut and later notched his first NHL point with an assist against the Nashville Predators on November 1.
Gabe Dean ’17, a four-time All-American and two-time national champion, is helping his former team as a coach, serving as a volunteer assistant for 2017–18. Dean has remained in Ithaca since graduation, working with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club and training for a post-collegiate wrestling career.
Melanie Jue ’10 is blazing new trails in professional women’s ice hockey as the sport makes an expansion into China, which is building its program in preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. A Chinese-Canadian from British Columbia, Jue played both ice and field hockey on the Hill. Now she’s on defense for the Kunlun Red Stars, one of the two new Chinese teams in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Based in Shenzhen, the team features a mix of North American and Chinese players.
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