|VOL. 23, NO. 2||September 12, 1997|
Head to the Stands of Baker Field!
Columbia Fall Athletics
he impact of last fall's record-breaking and headline-generating success on the athletic fields still ripples through the campus as a new year approaches in Columbia sports. In addition to the hundreds of talented returning players, the Lions coaches attracted the University's third-largest class of recruits, with 211 student-athletes from across the country deciding to compete at Columbia this year.
The Lions will look to quarterback Bobby Thomason, CC'98, to spark the offense.|
This fall, a winning season is expected from the football team, and another year of broken records is within reach for women's soccer.
In the more than 125 years of Columbia football, few teams experienced as successful a season as the 1996 squad, which won eight of 10 games and finished second in the Ivy League. Head coach Ray Tellier was named the national coach of the year and his star player, Marcellus Wiley, was a second-round NFL draft selection of the Buffalo Bills and played in Sunday's game against the Jets.
But Tellier is hardly ready to rest on his laurels in 1997. "This is a critical time at Columbia," he says. "Now that we are competitive, I hope we don't take a deep breath and relax."
Goalkeeper Ali Ahern, CC'00, last fall set Columbia's record for shutouts in women's soccer.|
The Lions will return one of the strongest defenses in the Ivy League, despite the loss of Wiley. Four All-Ivy League playersdefensive backs Roy Hanks, CC'98, Michele Bellanca,CC'98, and Joey Bolder, CC'98; and linebacker Jeremy Taylor, CC'99lead the defense. The offense will likely be paced by quarterback Bobby Thomason, CC'98; two record-breakers: tailback Jason Bivens, CC'99, and tight end Bert Bondi, CC'99; and tackle Jay DuPertuis, CC'98, a co-captain.
Columbia opens its season Sept. 20 in Cambridge, Mass., against a Harvard team that lost to the Lions in overtime last September.
While the football team was busy making national news last fall, the women's soccer team was quietly staging one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Columbia sports history. The team had been inching closer to a winning record since coach Kevin McCarthy took over the reigns three years ago but had never finished over .500 until exploding in 1996 to a 12-5-1 record and, in the process, earning an ECAC post-season bid.
This year's squad returns 10 of 11 starters and 14 of 16 letterwinners, including three of the top 10 point-scorers in the Ivy League in captain Tosh Forde, CC'99; Kriszen Williams, CC'00, and Kerry Martin, CC'00, and an outstanding defense led by All-Region back Liz Cheung, CC'98, and goalkeeper Ali Ahern, CC'00, who posted a school-record eight shutouts last season.
Tom Kloos, CC'99|
Throw in another talented class of first-year playersoffensive talent Ashley Ott of Brandon, Florida; high school all-conference goalkeeper Caroline Andersen of Greensboro, N.C. and standout midfielder Theo Beck of Atlantaand the Lions have become contenders for the league's top spot.
Their first home game is next Tuesday night, against Fordham at 7:00 P.M.
The Lions hope to return to the upper echelon of the conference with a stifling defense and 12 freshmen to spark Columbia's past weakness: scoring. Matt Napoleon, SEAS'99, the under-20 national team's goalkeeper this past summer, is stalwart in net, and he is protected by some of the league's most tenacious defenders in Soroosh Seyhoon, CC'00; Anthony Balsamo, CC'99; and Jeff Traola, CC'98. Central midfielders Rino Matarazzo, SEAS'99, and co-captain Greg Smalling, SEAS'98, bring experience and leadership.
The offensive problem may have been solved with the arrival of striker Leslie Fitzpatrick, CC'01, of Port of Spain, Trinidad. The first-year forward is an exciting and determined scorer. Senior Khouri Mullings, CC'98, is healthy again and may have a strong season. Sophomore Gerry Karavitis, CC'00, has made tremendous improvement which may see him become a key offensive threat.
Their first home game is next Wednesday night, against St. Francis, at 7:00 P.M.
Men's Cross Country
With mixed success in recent seasons, the Lions now have the ingredients necessary to become a contender for the Heptagonal Championships (the eight Ivy schools plus Navy). With a strong front-runner in Tom Kloos, CC'99, and very good depth, the Light Blue is out to achieve coach Willy Wood's goal of finishing in the top three spots at the Heps, held this year in Van Cortlandt Park on Oct. 31.
While having five excellent runners is the first step to having a successful program, it is important to have enough depth that other runners are challenging for those top five scoring spots each race, and the Lions have just that within addition to Kloossenior Geoff Warren, juniors Mike Grant, and Amerigo Rossi, sophomores Ray Biersbach and Jason Gibbons, freshman Noel Nelson and, potentially, some other first-year harriers.
Kara Kerr, CC'00|
Women's Cross Country
Columbia may have to rely on youth a good deal again in 1997, but the team's young runners may be enough to improve the team's finish at last year's Heptagonals. Kara Kerr, CC'00, established herself as one of the top distance runners in school history in her first year; and, if she is able to recover from injuries, Marissa Hurwitz, CC'00, could provide a potent sophomore tandem.
First-years will play a vital role in the Lions' effort to improve their standing. Bree Akesson, CC'01; Barb Nellenback, CC'01 and Cassie O'Shea, CC'01sister of Olympic Trial qualifier Casey O'Shea, CC'96should all contribute to that end.
When Carolyn Elwood was hired as the head coach at Columbia she brought with her experience and an attitude that made her players realize she was serious about volleyballbut she also made the sport fun for the team.
Elwood was tested last year as the Lions struggled with a 7-14 overall record and a 0-9 record in the Ivy League. But she was still happy with the progress Columbia made throughout the season.
"Anytime a new coach takes over a program there is a natural transition," Elwood said. "I feel that we did what we needed to do in that time to put us in a much more competitive position for 1997."
The return of two of the Lions' top assist leaders will help. Cheryl Bucci, the lone senior, and Erica Retblatt amassed 611 assists last season. Erica Loberg and Summer Ornelas, the top returners for the Lions in digs, should again lead the team in that category; Ornelas was also the team leader last year with 23 service aces. Loberg was also second on the team with 157 kills while Laura Alexander the top returner in blocks, had 39 to her credit.
"With some key players returning and a great class of newcomers we expect to make the conference stand up and take notice," Elwood said.
The Lions have four first-year recruits rounding out the squad.
"The time is right and we are ready to make our move," Elwood said.
Last year the field hockey squad competed for the first time as a varsity sport at Columbia, and this year they will be face their first Ivy schedule. It will not be an easy season for the inexperienced Lions, though they were much more competitive than anyone expected and lost only one player to graduation.
Katie Bergstom, CC'00, a key returner for the Lions had three goals last year for six points while sophomore Lauren Reynolds, CC'00, also added three goals and three assists for nine points.
Natalie Hubbard, CC'98, and Antoinette Allen, CC'00, will also be two major factors in the success of the Lions' program this year as they face Ivy foes.
Their first home game will be this Sunday at noon against Bucknell.
Athletic Communications and the Office of Public Affairs