Sports Editor Abby Rubel gives you a preview of fall sports in case you need to impress anyone with your knowledge of Columbia Athletics.
Football: Last year, the Lions finally showed us that they’re capable of having a winning record. After decades of disappointment, the Lions went 8-2, tying for second place with Dartmouth and trailing first-place Yale by only one game.
Some at Columbia were actually disappointed with the team’s success, bemoaning the new emphasis on athletics the victories seemed to indicate and arguing that a losing team is part of Columbia’s culture. Alumni of the team emphatically disagreed, with former quarterback John Witkowski calling that attitude “disgusting.”
Notable losses from last year include starting quarterback Anders Hill, who had a 63% passing success rate and 16 passing touchdowns last season. The Lions planned to start sophomore Josh Bean at quarterback, but he sustained a concussion in Saturday’s game against Central Connecticut State and it’s unclear how many games that will cost him. Fellow sophomore Dillon Davis stepped in to finish the game and excelled, leading the team to a 41-24 victory. But Davis didn’t do much last season—no stats that made the cumulative season statistics—and will need to grow quite a bit into his new role if he is the new starting quarterback.
Much of the team’s success can be attributed to Head Coach Al Bagnoli, who took over from Pete Mangurian in 2015. The team improved to 2-8 from 0-7 in his first year. Last year’s success seems to indicate that a radical shift has been made in the team’s culture — a shift which could propel them to further success this year.
Soccer: Last year, the men’s team finished second in the Ivy League with a 12-3-3 overall record and a 5-1-1 conference record and won a game in the first round of the NCAA tournament in their first trip since 1993. The team welcomes back many of its top players from last season, including senior Dylan Castanheira and junior Vana Markarian. Castanheira, a goalie, played every minute last year and posted 11 shutouts in 18 games. Markarian was ranked 81st nationally and third in the Ivy League in preseason rankings. In Ivy League team rankings, Dartmouth came out on top, with Columbia in second place. But Dartmouth lost one of its star players and its head coach, and the Big Green currently stand at 0-3-2 to Columbia’s 3-1-1 season start. Columbia is poised to win its first outright Ivy title since 1985. (The team shared the title with Princeton in 1993 and Dartmouth in 2016.)
Tennis: The men’s tennis team enters the 2018-19 season having won the Ivy title, or at least a share of it, every year since 2014. Last year, the team’s only conference loss was to Dartmouth, and the two teams shared the Ivy title. The Lions started the season ranked 16th in Division I, and dominated in their first matches last weekend at the Penn Invitational, dropping only four out of 36 matches (two in doubles, two in singles). The team only has one new first-year, Ben Gollin, and a plethora of returning seniors. In his first collegiate test, Gollin won his two doubles matches and lost his singles match. Expect the team to continue their success.
Cross Country: The women’s cross country team excelled last year, coming in first at the Ivy League Heptagonal championships, fourth in NCAA regional, and 28th in national NCAA. The team lost five seniors last season and of the five All-Ivy runners who graduated last year, two were from Columbia. The Light Blue added six first years to the ranks, but they’ll need to compete with teams like Dartmouth, who welcome back three All-Ivy runners. In their season opener at the Marist Invitational, the women came in third place out of six teams. Last weekend, the Light Blue tied with 20th-ranked Indiana in the team competition, but Indiana came out ahead thanks to race winner Katherine Receveur. Columbia seniors Erin Gregoire and Libby Kokes finished in second and fourth place, respectively.
Volleyball: The volleyball team is 6-4 after a highly successful weekend. Last season, they went 10-13 overall and 5-9 in the Ivy League. Only one senior graduated from last year’s team, so expect them to do the same or better. Keep an eye on first-year Emily Teehan, who is fourth in the Ivy League in average points per set scored so far this season and second in raw point total. Junior Chichi Ikwuazom is also on pace to have a phenomenal season. She is second in the Ivy in both average points scored per set (4.08) and in average kills per set (3.64).
The team welcomes new head coach Allison Keeley following Brie Katz’s resignation last year. Keeley comes to Columbia from Boston College and has 20 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 11 as a head coach at the Division I level.
Golf: After a rough fall and spring season last year, the women’s golf team managed a fourth place finish in the Ivy League tournament. The team’s first match isn’t until the last weekend in September at Princeton, so they have a few weeks for the new freshmen to acclimate to the team. The performance of those first years—Alexis Florio, Marlene Tartaro, and Jennifer Want—will have a large impact on the team. Only one senior, Amy Ding, and one junior, Emily Chu, are on the roster. Columbia alumna Jackie Chulya will return as an assistant coach, which could help guide a rather young team. In her time on the team, Chulya averaged 75.989 strokes per round, a close second in Columbia history.
Field Hockey: After finishing last season at 9-8, the Light Blue are 3-3 two weeks into their season. Like the golf team, conference play doesn’t start until the end of September, which will give the eight new first years (out of a team of 22) time to acclimate. Sophomore Kelsey Farkas returns to the team having competed in the Young Women’s National Championship, which pitted her against the top collegiate players in the country. (Farkas’s team went 0-2-1 in the tournament.) The team lost star Maeve Doherty last year, but junior Jennifer Trieschman seems poised to fill the gap she left. Trieschman is second in the Ivy League in points per game (1.67) and tied for third in average goals per game (.667).
Stiff arm and stiff upper lip via gocolumbialions.com