(Photo Courtesy of Cornell Athletics)
Ivy League coaches got some gut-wrenching news on Thursday, as it was announced that Cornell senior attackman Jeff Teat has received a fifth-year waiver through the Ivy League and will be returning in 2021.
The two-time Tewarraton Nominee and three-time USILA All-American immediately makes Cornell, who saw head coach Peter Millman leave for Johns Hopkins earlier this summer and will be led by Connor Buczek on an interim basis for a year, a top-flight contender within the Ivy League and nationally next season.
Before the 2020 season was cut short, Teat recorded 27 points (12G/15A) and helped lead Cornell to a 5-0 record, with included wins over Albany, Towson, High Point, Ohio State, and Penn State. Teat has amassed a career record of 268 points (116G/15A) during his four years with the Big Red.
Having their leader on offense back will be huge for the Big Red in 2021. But they will also return three of their other top five scorers in attackman John Piatelli, midfielder Jonathan Donville, and attackman Michael Long, in addition to multiple other younger guys who could step up big time next season.
They will also return goalie Chayse Ierlan, faceoff man Angelo Petrakis, and some other good pieces on defense.
But does just having Teat, a majority of the supporting cast on offense, starters at both specialist positions, and some key pieces on defense back in 2021 mean they will likely be the team to beat next season? No. But it is a good start, and certainly puts them at the top of the conversation, for sure.
However, one could look at the rest of the Ivy League heading into next season and suggest that the Big Red might just be the team that comes out on top of the conference when Selection Sunday rolls around.
Yale will be right back at the top of the national conversation with faceoff man TD Ierlan returning for a fifth season. But beyond that, the Bulldogs return an experienced amount of youth on the offensive end and defenseman Chris Fake, who will be a senior, will be leading the charge at close defense again.
Penn loses some quality seniors, two of whom will take their talents to South Bend, Ind., but with younger guys like Sean Lulley and Dylan Gergar returning on attack, BJ Farrare returning at LSM, and Patrick Burkinshaw likely to be their starter in goal again, the Quakers could be seen as the darkhorse of the Ivy.
Princeton loses an all-time great in Michael Sowers, who is taking his talents to Duke to be able to play a fifth season, but they still return some very good underclassmen on both ends. But how things will look without Sowers is still unseen and his vacancy could mean a step back for the Tigers, at least early on.
While Brown, Dartmouth, and Harvard will, undoubtedly, return some great talent on both ends, the likely hood of any of those three churning out special seasons in 2021 seems lower than it was a season ago, at least according to general expectations.
A year after a historic year that wasn’t for the Ivy League, Cornell has the potential to assert themselves as the top dog in the conference early on, especially with Teat back. 2021 could be the year of Cornell.