March 27, 2007


Purple Tigers pick up where they left off

CHS heads into opener with 19 returning players


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Senior Joel White, Cortland High’s leading scorer last season, is among 19 returning players for a Purple Tigers squad that opens the season Wednesday against Johnson City.

Staff Writer

As far as the Cortland High boys’ lacrosse team is concerned, it’s almost as if the 2006 graduation ceremonies never happened.
The Purple Tigers, who open their 2007 season against Johnson City at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex, lost only one key player, defenseman Jasmin Sahbaz, to graduation from a team that went 11-5 in OHSL B and 13-7 overall last season.
That campaign ended with a 16-8 loss to Jamesville-DeWitt in the Class B sectional semifinals.
A total of 19 players are back from that squad, which leads for some cautious optimism from Coach John Spallone.
“We’re setting small goals,” said Spallone of the challenges awaiting the Purple Tigers against some quality league opponents. “We’re going to take it one game at a time, looking to improve our level of play every day.”
Heading up the list of returning talent is senior midfielder Joel White, who led CHS in scoring last year with 50 goals and 44 assists for 94 points. He was named to the all-league first team for the second year in a row.
White was both a co-captain and a co-team MVP with classmate Zach Zayac, the Purple Tigers’ starting goalie, who gave up eight goals a game last season and totaled 302 saves. He was an honorable mention all-leaguer between the pipes.
Other returning seniors are attackman Taylor Brown (28-10 38 in ’06), and midfielders Theo Bishop (29-8 37), Jay Hartnett (19-7 26), Dan Leonard (2-3 5), Nick Becker (3-0 3) and Brendan Schreiner (3-0 3). Bishop will be a tri-captain along with White and Zayac.
Juniors who are back for another season include attackman Jack Spallone (27-26 53), defensemen Jesse Brown (2-0 2) and Chris Fernandes (1-0 1), attackman Nate Thomas (29-6 35), midfielders Brian Sypher (2-1 3), Levi Walrath (2-0 2) and Brad Rogers (2-0 2), defensemen Matt Marks, Steve Planck and Matt Pitcher and goalie Travis Carruthers.
Jesse Brown — Taylor’s brother — was a second-team all-leaguer. Zayac, Bishop, Hartnett, Taylor Brown and Spallone were all-league honorable mentions.
There are only five newcomers on this year’s roster — juniors Mike Hartnett (attackman/midfielder), Brett Miller (defense) and Kyle Peterson (defense) plus sophomores Alan Kryger (attack) and Joe Rosetti (midfield).
No wonder Coach Spallone cites the “experience of our starters” as one of the strengths CHS will carry into this season. The newcomers may have to be patient as far as playing time is concerned with this cast of veterans.
“There is a constant need to improve skill level, game knowledge and building of team chemistry,” said Spallone, hoping Cortland’s off-season work helps get those things_accomplished.
“This is the best off-season we’ve had in a long time, since the Cutia days,” the coach added, referring to former Purple Tiger and current Nazareth College sticker Steve Cutia. “We played a lot of off-season lacrosse and the players who did, it shows. They are way ahead of the players who didn’t.”
That will come in handy as the Purple Tigers look to contend for league honors with the likes of J-D, East Syracuse-Minoa and New Hartford. Rival Homer is always a tough outing for CHS, while Coach Spallone feels Whitesboro will be an improved squad.
After opening up with Johnson City out of Section 4, the annual Guido Tournament at SUNY_Cortland will provide a good barometer of where the Purple Tigers stand.
The tournament gets underway at 6:30 p.m. with Syracuse CBA facing Niagara-Wheatfield out of Section 6. The Brothers of CBA were Class C sectional runners-up a year ago, while Niagara-Wheatfield was the 17th-ranked team in Class A with a number of players who participated in the Iroquois Under-19 team that competed in the World Championships.
CHS meets South Jefferson, always a solid Section 3 competitor, in the 8:30 p.m. nightcap. The consolation game is at 4 p.m. Saturday back at SUNY Cortland, with the title game to follow at 6 o’clock.
Spallone will be assisted once again by Dick Penoyer on the varsity level. Joe DiSanto heads up the junior varsity squad, with Bob Edwards and Jeff Hering as assistants. Dan Law and assistant Tom Murphy will guide the junior high program.



Trojans will rely on returning long sticks

Staff Writer

One year ago, it was all about the offense as Homer Central boys entered the OHSL lacrosse season.
In 2007, head coach Tom Cottrell will be counting on his veteran defensive unit as the Trojans entertain Marcellus tonight at 7 p.m. on the Butts Field turf in non-league action. This will be the seventh season for Cottrell at the helm.
Cottrell saw his top seven scorers and eight of his nine top point scorers graduate from a team that went 11-5 in B division play and 13-7 overall. That was 182 of 197 goals scored and 266 of 284 total points. The good news is that 14 of the 22 players on the roster are returning, including a core of three-year defensemen and a goalkeeper entering his second full season as the starter.
“The offense will be a work in progress that will continue to get better,” Cottrell said. “The guys have been practicing real hard and we are doing some real nice things.
“Our strength will be our defense, especially early in the season,” he added. “Those guys will have to dictate what we do. They know what needs to be done and they really must lead by example.”
Heading the veteran list of returning players are seniors defenseman Mark Brenchley and Joe May, along with junior Mike Carboine. All are three-year veterans. Backing them up and also slated to see time as long-stick midfielders are returning senior Zach Walter, plus juniors Vic Marchetti and Jake Phelps up from the junior varsity ranks.
The anchor of the defense will be senior goalkeeper Kyle Crosley, who played 847 of 960 minutes in 2006, making 202 saves. His back-up will be junior Trevor Caughey, who moves up for the JV ranks.
While the emphasis may be defense, it does not mean the Trojans do not have players who can put the ball in the net. There is an interesting mix of returning players and talented players coming up from the JVs to man the attack and midfield positions in 2007.
Steve Schillo (one goal-two assists) is one of two returning seniors on attack and he will team with junior Brett Capps and sophomore Paul Armideo on the first attack line. Armideo led the 12-5 JV Trojans with 32 goals and nine assists in 2006 with Capps adding 22 goals and four assists.
The second attack unit consists of returning seniors Matt Sears and Steve McGee, along with junior Jay Riley, up from the JVs.
Experience is a good thing for Homer at midfield. The first unit boasts returning seniors Erich Lindhorst (six goals-one assist) and Kyle Metzger (four goals) and junior Talon Sprouse (three goals), plus junior newcomer Shawn Cleary (14 goals-six assists) who is up from the JVs. Metzger is also the leading returnee at the face-off X, winning 54 percent of his chances in 2006.
Also returning are seniors Pat Cleary and Joe Riley, while juniors Will Connery and Cory Kellogg move up one level.
“During the preseason, our guys have done a good job of working within the offense,” Cottrell said. “The guys are moving around and passing the ball well. We have guys who can score and it really will be a more balanced attack. That should work to our advantage because people will not be able to key on one particular person. That has really made us much more team-oriented this year and that is a big positive for us.”
Homer faces another tough OHSL B Division with Chittenango, Cortland, Jamesville-DeWitt, East Syracuse-Minoa, New Hartford and Fulton, plus a home-and-home with Whitesboro. The non-league portion of the schedule includes Marcellus, Westhill and Jordan-Elbridge, plus Cazenovia.
“This is a loaded division,” Cottrell said. “After three tough nonleague games, we face J-D in our first league contest. ES-M is always tough. New Hartford is going to be very good. Of course, Cortland and Chittenango always have a lot of talent as well. Cortland really should challenge for the division title this season.”



Purple Lion Finnerty co-MVP in Division I

Staff Writer

On the heels of successful 2006-2007 Interscholastic Athletic Conference basketball seasons, both Dryden High and Groton Central were each rewarded with divisional first-team all-stars selections from the league coaches.
Marathon also received first-team consideration for the past season.
Dryden High senior Tim Finnerty was the co-IAC Division I MVP while Groton senior Paul Cooley and sophomore Peter Jackson, plus Marathon Ben McDonald were each selected Division III first-team_all-stars.
Finnerty shared MVP honors with Watkins Glen senior Sam Schimizzi for their outstanding play in Division I.
Other Division I first-team selections were Elmira Notre Dame seniors Greg Schieffen and Chris Wood, plus Waverly junior Mark Kuzma, Trumansburg senior Christian Smith, Newark Valley senior Bryan Marsh and Watkins Glen senior John Bianco.
Division I second-team all-stars included senior David Pargh and junior Rob Leviere of Dryden, Trumansburg seniors Zach Golden and Jarrod Surine, Watkins Glen senior Aaron Thomson and Notre Dame junior Brett Shay.
Division III all-stars Cooley, Jackson and McDonald were joined on the first team by Lansing senior Ryan Shaff, Lansing junior Teagan Barresi and Union Springs junior Julius McClary. Shaff was the Division III MVP.
Division III second-team all-stars were Groton freshman Ethan Tilebein, Groton senior Tyler Tilebein, Marathon senior Tony Ortiz, Southern Cayuga seniors Lucas Pettit and Mike Mahaney, Lansing seniors John Sluty and Chris Reukauf, Moravia senior Chris Schillawski and Moravia junior Justin Stanton.
IAC Division II MVP Luke Thomas, a Candor senior, was joined on the first team by classmates Clint Foster and Pete Ahart, Odessa-Montour seniors Matt Thomason and Bobby Potter, Newfield senior Matt Ruger, Spencer-Van Etten senior Mason Bishop and Elmira Heights Edison junior Jon Coats.
Division II second-team picks included Candor seniors Dustin Quick and Matt Hawes, the Odessa-Montour trio of senior Matt Jacobs, sophomore Brendan Letteer and sophomore John Blaha, Newfield senior Brian Murray, Tioga senior Luke Monell and the Spencer-Van Etten senior trio of Darek Vennel, Jake Ulacco and Zach Wittig.