(Photo Courtesy of Cornell Athletics)
Cornell is one of few programs that went through a coaching change this offseason, as Peter Milliman left for Johns Hopkins. The Big Red have named Connor Buczek as the interim head coach for the 2021 season.
Last time the Big Red came into a season with an interim at the helm was in 2018 with Milliman. And things turned our pretty good, as the Big Red won the Ivy League and made a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals. This time around things could turn out even better for the Big Red. And that’s all thanks to Cornell allowing star atatckman Jeff Teat to comeback for a fifth-year, which is something that not every Ivy is allowing despite the NCAA’s ruling to grant spring sport athletes an extra year of eligibility.
The two-time Tewarraton Nominee and three-time USILA All-American returning immediately makes Cornell a top-flight contender within the Ivy League and nationally next season. And they will almost certainly live up to the hype.
Before the 2020 season was cut short, Teat recorded 27 points (12G/15A) and helped lead Cornell to a 5-0 record, which 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, being one of their biggest impact players since he first stepped foot in Ithaca, N.Y. as a freshman.
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. Additionally, multiple other younger guys will be returning and could step up big time, which could lead Cornell to have one of the deepest offenses in the Ivy.
They will also return goalie Chayse Ierlan, faceoff man Angelo Petrakis, and some other good pieces on defense. And that Cornell defense has taken some big steps over the past few seasons, and if they can take another one in 2021 that would be huge for the Big Red.
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, 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. Brown also has darkhorse potential with a few key fifth-year returnees.
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. Dartmouth and Harvard will, undoubtedly, return some great talent on both ends, but the likely hood of either churning out special seasons in 2021 seems pretty low, at least according to general expectations.
A year after a historic season 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.