February 12, 2008


Muka takes soccer skills off to UMass


Staff Writer

The top scorer in the history of Cortland high soccer — boys’ and girls’ — is New England-bound.
Natalie Muka made it official last week when she signed her National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Massachusetts starting this fall. She leaves CHS with three-year career totals of 82 goals and 25 assists for a school-record 189 points. She scored 32 goals and added nine assists this past fall, leading the Purple Tigers to the Section 3 Class A championship.
She has been an OHSL Freedom Division first-team and All-Section 3 Class A selection each of the past two seasons, and was a second-team all-leaguer in 2005. This past year she was also named to the all-state Class A third team and to the All-CNY first team (after being a third-team pick in 2006). She was also selected as a member of the National Soccer Coaches’ Association/adidas High School Girls’ All-East Region II team.
“I visited the campus a couple of times and loved the atmosphere,” Muka said of her decision. “It’s a big campus in a small town, and I’m a small-town girl. I love coach Rudy (head coach Jim Rudy) and coach Angie (assistant coach Angela Napoli). They’re nice. And the girls made me feel welcome. I didn’t want go somewhere that I couldn’t get along with the other players.”
“Natalie is very focused, especially when it comes to soccer,” Cortland High coach Abby Albright said. “She came to every practice and game with a goal in mind, and gave her all to achieve it. She was definitely a leader on the field and off, and as one of our captains took that responsibility on when it came to communicating things to the team and myself. She kept everyone else focused.
“Her strength is being able to put points on the board, and that came out during our post-season run this past season,” the coach added. “She knows when she needs to step it up a notch, and does it. If she stays focused and keeps her mindset like it has been, I think she’ll be able to go in and make an immediate impact for UMass.”
Muka scored three goals in Cortland’s 4-0 win over East Syracuse-Minoa in the sectional quarterfinals. She scored three more in the 4-0 win over Whitesboro that gave the Purple Tigers the Class A sectional title and had two goals in a 3-3 regional tie with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake that CHS lost 4-2 in penalty kicks.
In thinking back over her Cortland High career, Muka said that the highlight “Has to be winning the sectional championship. The team this past season was amazing, and with that team winning sectionals was the topping of everything.”
Asked about her standout memory of Muka, Albright laughed and said “She scored the first goal in the sectional championship game and threw her fist in the air. I remember the look on her face; it said ‘It’s going to be ours tonight!’
“I’d like to thank her for all of her hard work and dedication; she’s one of the people I’ll remember the most from the past two seasons that I’ve been coach. She’s more than just an athlete; she’ll stop by my room at school just to say ‘hi,’ and when I see her away from school she gives me a hug. She’s friendly and fun to be around.”
“There was a lot of time management,” Muka said with a laugh in addressing her overall success in the game. “I had to choose sometimes between soccer and hanging with my friends, but in my time spent with soccer — the high school team, club teams and Olympic Development Program — I gave it my all. I practiced on my own, and always looked to improve, taking coaches’ advice and using it in game situations.
“I want to thank everyone who contributed— it wasn’t just me — including all my coaches and teammates and especially my parents, Steve and Cheryl Muka, and my grandmother, Joy Hall.”




Wilson runs a pair of titles for Trojans

SYRACUSE — Heather Wilson grabbed a pair of titles, while teammate Caitlin McMahon picked up a second and a third place, for Homer Central girls at the Section 3 Class A Indoor Track and Field Championships Monday night.
Those performances gave the Trojans a fourth place team finish out of nine schools, Wilson and McMahon the lone competitors on hand for Homer.
Senior Wilson got off to a quick start and led from start to finish in the 1,000-meter run at Manley Field House on the Syracuse University campus. She was clocked in 3:06.56.
McMahon followed with a solid effort in the 600-meter run. She escaped traffic and almost ran down the race leader, settling for second place in a season-best 1:48.50 time.
Both girls were in the 300-meter run, in which Wilson again never trailed. She turned in a season best 44.56 winning time for her second Class A title. McMahon finished third in 46.46 in her first-ever 300m race.
Homer boys will compete in the Class A meet back at Manley Field House on Wednesday.
THIS PAST FRIDAY at the Dan Hurley/Doug Quinney Invitational held at Cornell University in Ithaca, Dryden senior Tara Brenner won the girls’ pole vault by clearing the bar at 10-feet even. Brenner was the only local competitor to place in the top third for the night.
The top Homer finish was posted by the sprint medley relay quartet of Eli Kabat, Jake Morris, Justin Spinner and Andrew Gregg. The team finished with an official time of 3:59.24 to win their heat and finish ninth overall out of 25 teams.
Other notable Homer performances included:
— Chris Dewey posting a personal best time of 7.54 seconds in the 55-meter dash to finish fifth in his heat.
— Jake Morris broke the 22 year-old sophomore class record in the 55-meter dash running an impressive 7.05 to finish third in his heat.
— Justin Spinner (42.05) and Zandrew Zimmerman (42.83) clocked season-beats in the 300m dash to finish first and third, respectively, in their heat.





Lady Saints defeat rival to reach finals

Cortland Christian Academy girls have reached the title game of the Empire State Christian Athletic League basketball playoffs at the expense of county rival.
The Lady Saints pulled away in the second half to beat visiting Cincinnatus Christian Academy 33-18 in Monday’s semifinal match-up.
Second seed Cortland Christian (8-3) will now face top seed Valley Heights from Norwich in Friday’s title game, which will get a championship doubleheader underway at 5 p.m. at Cincinnatus Central School. Valley Heights rolled past Finger Lakes of Seneca Falls in the other semifinal last night.
Cortland Christian boys will be looking to advance to the boys’ title game when they host Baldwinsville Christian tonight in a 5:30 p.m. semifinal.
A bid to reach the finals by Cincinnatus Christian boys fell short last night, Valley Heights a 74-47 winner in Norwich in semifinal play. The boys’ champion will be crowned at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Cincinnatus Central.
Cortland Christian Girls 33, Cincinnatus Christian 18: When Brianna Harvey scored her second straight basket for Cincinnatus Christian, the visitors were within 16-13 with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
The Lady Saints dominated the rest of the way, outscoring the third seeds 17-5 until the final horn.
Courtney Hall  had 10 points to lead Cortland Christian, and became the first girl to surpass 500 career points — the senior now with 503. She also had six rebounds and four assists for the winners.
Karyn Harding added eight points and nine rebounds, while Larissa Miller scored seven points, to get Cortland Christian into the title game.
Elisabeth  Perrott led Cincinnatus Christian (6-5) with nine points.
Valley Heights Boys 74, Cincinnatus Christian 47: Roger Rose and Luke Halberg were unstoppable for top seed Valley Heights. Rose scored 27 points and Halberg added 25 to out-scoring the visiting Eagles by themselves, both players also with a pair of 3-pointers.




Weather helps out Golden Eagles

The weather made the Cortland-Homer hockey team’s road to the Section 3 Division II tournament a little easier Monday.
The cold temperatures closed all Syracuse public schools, including Corcoran, whose squad was to have hosted Syracuse CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt Monday night.
Had the Brothers won the game, which was wiped out by the closing and will not be made up due to sectional seeding deadlines, they would have forced a play-in for the fourth and final playoff berth in the CNYHSHL Division II West with Cortland-Homer. That game would have been played tonight at the J.M. McDonald Center.
The Golden Eagles, who finished 10-6 (20 points) in the league, thus were awarded the fourth seed ahead of the Brothers, who wound up 8-5-2 in the league, two points back with one fewer game played. C-H thus will face Division II East champion Whitesboro (19-3-2, ranked second in the state) in the first round of sectionals, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Whitestown Community Center.
“I found out when I went into the locker room before practice at 4:30 p.m. Monday, started talking about it being a pre-game practice and the players said there wouldn’t be a game,” C-H head coach Don Armstrong said.
“I questioned them about it, and got hold of the CBA coach, Jason Mucha, at home about the time they would have been playing to verify it.
“We talked for several minutes,” he added. “Obviously Jason and his team are disappointed, and we’re disappointed for them — we had planned on playing another game with them.
This could have happened to any team. You want the chance to complete your schedule, but due to the circumstances they weren’t able to. Jason said that they put themselves in that position and was magnanimous. He’s a class guy. He wished us the best of luck and said that he hoped we did a great job of representing the league. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”



Pee Wees post victories

The Cortland Flames Pee Wee Travel youth hockey team won twice at home over the weekend, 3-0 over Ithaca on Saturday and 6-5 over Center State on Sunday.
Goalie Zach Randall made 10 saves for the shutout on Saturday, while Jordan Zehr scored twice and Nick Burton once. Dakota Baylor had two goals and two assists in Sunday’s game, while Burton had a goal and three assists, Kyle Gibbons a goal and two assists, Zehr a goal and an assist and Joel Potter a goal. Randall stopped 23 shots.
The Stars’ 16-Under girls beat the Tri-County Eagles 19-Unders 5-3 as Cortland’s Janesa Cornish scored a goal and goalie Annabelle Jones from Homer stopped 13 shots.
Cortland fell to visiting Lysander 3-2 as Mike Turck and Maggie Walsh scored one each and goalie Devin Baylor made 14 saves.
The Huskytown Auto and Truck Repair squad fell 5-1 to the host Cortaca Bandits as Zach Daniels had the goal while goalies Brandon Paquin and Cory Broyles made 17 and 14 saves, respectively. Broyles again made 14 saves and Paquin 17 in a 3-0 loss to visiting Onondaga.