The men's and women's cross-country teams finished opposite each other: the women far exceeded their expectations, and the men failed to live up to theirs.
Headlining for the Light Blue was senior Kara Kerr, who finished second and first-year Haley Acre, who pushed Kerr all year. In the Metropolitan Championships, the Light Blue smothered every other team for their second consecutive first place finish.
With expectations high, the Lions prepared for Heptagonals in Michigan against top national competition, where they finished sixth out of 13 teams.
The season came to an in-league climax, as the women avenged a previous loss to Yale at Heptagonals with a fifth place finish. The Lions deemed the season a success and seem primed to overcome the loss of Kerr, among others, next year.
The men, on the other hand, had the unfortunate task of replacing their top three runners and some had put the dreaded "rebuilding year" tag on the team.
For the men, stellar performances were flanked by inconstancy. In their first top-level race, they finished second out of three teams, beating Cornell, but losing to Army.
One of the few bright spots for the men was the strong performance by senior captain Ray Biersbach, who led Lion runners with a time of 25:02.
The season's peak for the men occurred at Mets with the men finishing first for the fourth year in a row.
Next, the Light Blue men finished a respect-winning fourth place in the Michigan race.
Inconsistency conquered the Lions again at Heps on the road to a disappointing fifth place out of nine.
The Lions finished seventh out of 35 teams at Regionals.
Biersbach qualified for the NCAA Championships where he ended up 101st of 248 runners.
The men will have to replace Biersbach next year, but hope this year's performances will motivate for next year
--Ian R. Rapoport
This fall, the players who were first-years in 1996, when Columbia football finished 8-2 (its best record since 1945) and second in the Ivy League, were playing their final season. They had seen that impressive season deteriorate over the next two seasons into two middling 4-6 results.
As it turned out, 1999 would not see the return to glory that these seniors had hoped for. In fact, the 3-7 result may have been a step back.
At least that what Head Coach Ray Tellier called it before Columbia's season-ending 23-6 loss to Brown on Nov. 20. "We're going to call it like it is. We've taken a step back. It's been a tough year," Tellier said at the time.
The season will be remembered because of an unanswered quarterback question, which saw Columbia's coaching staff alternate starts for junior Jeff McCall and senior Mike Glynn.
The uncertainty at quarterback was reflected in the unpredictability of the team.
An October 2 63-13 loss to Lehigh was followed with a 10-7 victory over Bucknell a Saturday later.
Columbia's Ivy results, on other hand, were quite consistent. A 1-6 record in the Ancient Eight was its worst mark since 1993.
Whether Tellier and his staff will answer those questions will be seen next September. One thing is for sure; the team will not look the same as Tellier switches to one-back offense next season.
But another quarterback controversy may be brewing. Though it may not be a true indication of what will happen next season, rising sophomore Eric Moss looked extremely strong in the spring scrimmage. He passed the Blue team to a 14-10 win over the White.
--Max J. Dickstein & Michael Mirer
Defense wins games.
It's a mantra that anyone involved with sports has heard over and over. And the 1999 men's soccer team proved why.
A stonewall backfield that held opponents to a team record-tying eleven shutouts and the stellar play of junior goalkeeper Matt Hill led the Lions to an impressive 11-5-3 record, and nearly won the squad an NCAA tournament bid.
The team opened with wins over two nationally ranked teams, Butler and UCLA, in Florida.
And in their first Ivy matchups, the Light Blue looked strong as well. After dropping their first league game to Harvard, the team rebounded for two huge wins over Penn and Ivy powerhouse Princeton.
A loss to Yale took the Lions out of the running for an Ivy championship, but a 0-0 draw at home against Dartmouth kept their tournament hopes alive.
But the Lions' year ended with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Cornell.
Despite that finish, Columbia has lots to look forward to next year. The '99 squad featured a solid group of first-year recruits who were a force on the field. They helped to take some offensive pressure of junior forward Tiger Fitzpatrick, who had been the focus of the Lion attack in previous years.
Despite losing seven seniors to graduation, the Light Blue retains many key players, and should remain in the running for a postseason bid in 2000.
--M. Bryan Votta
In a season marked with potential and marred with disappointment, the Columbia Women's Soccer team will be waving goodbye to an old regime and old style, and welcoming a newer, more finesse class of soccer players.
After a surprising 12 win season in 1998 that almost led to an NCAA tournament birth, the women's soccer team entered last fall looking to continue its success by showcasing many of the same players from the previous year, in addition to a fresh crop of first years.
But a Jekyll and Hyde season in more ways than one caused the Lions' doom. With the seniors playing a more rugged brand of soccer and the younger players opting for speed, the team had trouble finding a compatible chemistry on the field, and usually yielded to its best opponents. The other side of their multiple personality was its performance against league opponents and non-league foes. The Lions registered a stellar 7-1-1 against non-league opponents, losing only a close game to perennial powerhouse Villanova, and 0-6-1 against Ivy League opponents, losing to teams that were obviously inferior.
Perhaps the biggest problem facing this team was its propensity for taking many shots with nothing to show for it. The Lions often dominated the shots statistic, but rarely put them in the net. Luck, in addition, was rare and the big goals never came when they were needed.
The Lions will graduate a strong senior class, but with the new regime coming into its own next year the Lions once again have every reason to expect success.
Just when volleyball was about to get on a roll this season, it would be derailed by injury.
Sophomore Candace Cedar reinjured her shoulder this year and later on, after the Lions had defeated Cornell for their first regular season Ivy League win since 1994, junior co-captain Rebecca Shumsky suffered ligament damage in her ankle and missed four matches.
The Lions opened with a five-game winning streak and a six-game home winning streak. The Lions were 10-4 at the start of their Ivy schedule.
The league highlight was the win over Cornell, volleyball's only league triumph. But at 15-12 (1-9) the Lions still produced a winning record, improving on last year's record by several matches.
The team's seven first-years stepped in immediately. Joanna August had multiple double-digit kill tallies for the Lions. Katie Beauregard racked up an impressive number of double-doubles (kills and digs). And with no returning setters, Julia Topik and Tara Twibell, quickly stepped into full time rolls.
The team also had strong leadership. Co-captain Shumsky was the most explosive hitter for the squad. While junior co-captain Rachel Miller was the cornerstone of the Lions defense, junior Serena Lewis came also into her own this season.
This year's Lion improved in record and in play throughout the season. And with every player returning next year, the Lions may yet again look towards a year with excitement and a shot at breaking into the top half of the Ivy League. --Sean Lane
"The pieces of the puzzle were always there. Now they're finally coming together," field hockey Head Coach Susan Eichner said in early October.
Her team, which at the beginning of the season hoped to make a great step forward to compete in the Ivy League, had floundered through September. The Lions went 1-5, including a demoralizing 7-0 loss to Ivy champion Brown.
But everything changed October 1. The Lions lost a close game to Cornell, losing 4-3, on two controversial Big Red goals.
Something clicked that day, and the Light Blue turned its season around. The Lions went 6-3 in October, including a 1-0 win over Penn, Columbia's first ever Ivy League field hockey victory.
Although the Lions were unable to match this Ivy success in the rest of the season, they did have several other highlights. They brought themselves to .500 by beating Rider. And on the last day of the season, November 6, the Light Blue flirted with greatness. Columbia led at halftime against Dartmouth, an NCAA tournament caliber team, before eventually falling 3-2.
Columbia finished 1-6 in the league, but could have been 4-3. The Lions proved they belonged in the world of Ivy League field hockey.
Only four Lions graduate this spring, and the offense returns almost totally intact.
The real question mark will be junior midfielder Florencia Battilana, who transferred from the school of General Studies to be the Lions' spiritual leader.
As of the end of last season, Battilana, who made second-team all-Ivy, had not decided whether she would return or become the field hockey equivalent of Stephon Marbury and leave after one year.