March 29, 2007


Red Dragons rehearsal goes well

Unbeaten Cortland thumps Utica in home opener


Photos by Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s NIck Baker delivers pitch during Wednesday’s 13-1 win over Utica College.Baker pitched two perfect innings.

Sports Editor

For the defending champions, this mid-week baseball matinee was pretty much a successful dress rehearsal prior to the arrival of the SUNY Athletic Conference regular season.
For this undefeated SUNY Cortland baseball squad, which has moved up to the third spot in this week’s Division III national poll, it was a chance to display the depth that has helped carry the Red Dragons to 14 consecutive victories without a loss.
Despite giving some players a bit of rest after a busy weekend road trip, the Red Dragons still disposed of visiting Utica College with relative 13-1 ease on this blue-skied Wednesday home opener at Wallace Field. Five different pitchers limited the visiting Pioneers to just three hits. Ten different players contributed to a 14-hit attack.
“Our bench can probably beat our starters on any given day,” said junior outfielder and Cortland High grad Sean Caughey, who had two hits and drove in a run in a starting role. “When you have good players playing behind you, you work that much harder. And when you do get replaced by someone, you are confident that player can get the job done. We’re a close team, and we’ve been playing together for a couple of years now. It’s the most fun I’ve had, being on this team.”
Of course, winning is fun. And after scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning on consecutive two-out RBI hits by Travis Robinson, Caughey and Anthony Coromato, this outcome was never in doubt.
With Red Dragon pitchers in a stingy mood, those runs were more than enough.
Starting senior southpaw Jon Rockfeld allowed two harmless hits while holding Utica (4-5) scoreless over the opening three frames. Right-handers Nick Baker and Jason Hauck then combined for two perfect innings apiece, with Hauck striking out the first five batters he faced.
Though T.J. O’Leary struggled a bit when it was his turn to take the mound for the Red Dragons, giving up two walks and a double by Adam Keller to account for Utica’s lone eighth inning run, Nick DeVito came on to retire the final four batters in order.
“I WAS VERY pleased with our pitching,” said head coach Joe Brown, Cortland with 11 strikeouts on the day. “Jon Rockfeld has been tough in his last two or three outings, and our relief corps has been super.”
And top throwers like senior Jim Dougher, senior Mike Zgorzelski and sophomore George Jweid should be rested and ready when the Red Dragons visiting nationally-ranked Brockport on Saturday before hosting Fredonia noon Sunday in a pair of doubleheader conference tests.
Cortland heads into the SUNYAC season well tested, having already knocked off four teams ranked in the pre-season NCAA Division III poll. So this perfect 14-0 record, believed to be the best start of any Red Dragon squad, has been hard earned.
 “We don’t even think about that,” insisted Coach Brown of Cortland’s unblemished record. “It’s how you play that matters. You could go 32-0 and lose your last game, and that’s no fun. It’s all in the process, of working hard in practice and playing hard in games. If we go 20-20 and still make it to the World Series, I’ll take it.”
Against Utica, Cortland almost wasted a leadoff walk and stolen base by Steve Nickel. But senior first baseman Robinson smacked a double up the gap in left-center to drive in a run, Caughey singled through the left side of the infield and Coromato belted an opposite field double down the line in left and the Red Dragons were off to a 3-0 lead.
The Red Dragons did come up empty after loading the bases with no outs in the third inning. Matt Vitalone beat out an infield hit, Robinson was plunked by a pitch and a perfect Caughey bunt ended up going for another infield hit to fill the sacks. A strikeout and double play spoiled that scoring chance.
But Utica helped Cortland add three runs in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit. Three walks, a couple of wild pitches and an error helped the hosts build a 6-0 lead.
CORTLAND LOADED the bases again with no outs in the fifth, on a Coromoto infield hit, a DeVito single to right and a walk. After a strikeout, a grounder to shortstop was thrown away at second base and two Red Dragons scored.
A walk and singles by Dan Maycock, John Zilnicki and Josh Hicks helped post two more runs in the sixth for a 10-0 lead. More clutch two-out hitting arrived in the eighth, when Paul Merriweather doubled in a teammate before catcher Mike Zaccardo singled home the final two Red Dragon runs.
Shortstop Vitalone, Caughey, junior centerfielder Coromato and designated hitter/pitcher DeVito each had two hits — DeVito scoring three times.
Now comes the Brockport test, the Golden Eagles (8-4) ranked 22nd in the country and considered prime contenders in the SUNYAC. Sophomore Mike Avery, another Cortland High product, has been an integral part to Brockport’s early success.
“I’ve been talking to him about it,” said Caughey, referring to his former CHS teammate. “We’re really good friends and we played together in the summer. We worked together, too, so we’re looking forward to it.”


Plenty of talent returns for CHS

Staff Writer

When the Cortland High girls’ lacrosse team opens its season Saturday at East Syracuse-Minoa, it will have a familiar look.
That’s because 15 active players return from the team that swept to the OHSL Freedom Division championship last spring with a 9-1 record and finished 14-5 overall after losing to Carthage 9-6 in the sectional Class B championship game.
The news isn’t all good, however, as a knee injury suffered during an off-season tournament has shelved senior midfielder Molly SanJule, last year’s leading scorer — 39 goals and 24 assists for 63 points — and a first-team all-league pick. But she’s the only one of the 11 Purple Tigers who earned some level of all-league honors that isn’t back to play this year, and she’s still officially on the roster and will be at every game.
“Molly leaves big shoes to fill,” said CHS coach Kim Pace, “but I think we have enough depth and have the players to do it. Her leadership is going to be missed. It will force some of the younger girls to step up and take leadership positions.
“Having Molly on the sidelines will help give the girls a boost when they need it, and when she’s able to start moving around she’ll help with practices.”
The returning first-teamers are junior midfielder Janelle Stegeland (50goals-10 assists 60 points), senior midfielder Beth Cutia (33-6 39) and senior defender Stephanie VanGorder. Returnees who were second-team all-leaguers last season are junior midfielder Bailey Reagan (19-23 42), senior midfielder Kim Natoli (10-10 20), junior midfielder Caitlyn Stevens (2-0 2) and senior goalie Danielle DePerno (7.32 goals against average, 99 saves). Also back are honorable mentions Natalie Muka (junior midfielder, 13-4-17, sixth), sophomore midfielder Katherine Hunsberger (1-2-3) and senior goalie Victoria Convertini (7.43 goals against, 74 saves).
Also back from last season are senior defenders Natalie Khazzaka (1-0 1) and Kelly Griffin and junior attacks Emily Walsh (10-4 14), Lisa Frare (0-4 4) and Kim Hall (2-1 3).
SanJule, Stegeland and DePerno are this year’s captains.
Lost to graduation after last season were attacks Lauren Kostuk (4-2-6), Mia Starmer (2-2-4) and Colette Gregoire, midfielder Tirzah Walrath 1-2-3) and defenders Nicole Cottone (3-0-3) and Nina Muench.
Newcomers this season are senior attack Robin Barber (actually back after taking last year off) and, up from last year’s junior varsity squad, juniors Jen White (attack), Emily Piedigrossi (defense) and Amanda Cheetham (midfield) plus sophomore midfielders Emily VanGorder (Stephanie’s sister), Jenna Phelps, Molly Bramschreiber and Casey Marks.



Youthful Trojans debut in tourney

Staff Writer

It will be a younger team when Homer Central girls step into battle against South Jefferson Friday in the first round of the Central Square Lacrosse Tournament at 5 p.m.
Third-year head coach Jackie Reichert has just five seniors on her 15-player roster. In all, there are seven returning players for the Trojans from the 2006 squad that went 5-11-1. That record might have been much better as three of the losses came in overtime.
Despite the graduation of the top three scorers, Coach Reichert is very optimistic about what her team can accomplish in 2007.
“Everyone is going into this season with a positive outlook,” said Reichert. “The girls are working hard to become a strong team and become one working unit. They are meshing well this year on and off the field, which is an important aspect to having a successful team.”
Heading the list of returning players are senior tri-captains Danielle Shattuck, Erin McSherry and Molly Siwula. All three are midfielders. Shattuck scored 11 goals and dished out four assists for 15 points in 2006 while Siwula (4 goals-3 assists for seven points) and McSherry (2-1 3) also found the scoring column.
“Danielle, Erin and Molly are great role models for the team and are doing a terrific job of being effective leaders,” Reichert stated.
Other returning seniors are midfielders Meghan Marchetti (one goal) and Cally Weddle (18-5 23).
The final two returning players are junior attack Lindsey Wilson, who scored 16 goals and recorded nine assists in 2006, and junior midfielder Kaylee Benz (6-1 7).
The remaining eight players are all moving up from the junior varsity squad. They include juniors Krista Guy (goalkeeper), Danielle Dugan (midfield), Jisun Ryu (defense), Kacie Harder (midfield) and Brittany Proffitt (defense), along with sophomores Martha Riley (attack), Heidi VanValkenburg (defense) and Morgan Orborne (midfield). Osborne was the leading scorer on the JV team with more than 30 goals.
As for our expectation this year, Homer is looking to go to sectionals.
“We believe that we can do well if we come together and focus on achieving our goals,” said Reichert. “We have a small squad this year, but every one of our 15 players is capable of doing a great job out on the field.”



Purple Tigers roar to get season started

Everything went right for the Cortland High boys’ lacrosse team Wednesday evening.
The Purple Tigers opened their season with a 20-0 blanking of Section 4’s Johnson City at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex, and were able to work on what coach John Spallone sees as their one problem area to boot.
“We controlled everything we needed to,” said Spallone, his team’s offensive output paced by five goals from junior attackman Nate Thomas and four goals and five assists from senior midfielder Joel White. “One of the best things was the fact that Johnson City played zone all night when the teams were even-up, so we were able to work extensively on our zone offense, which we hadn’t really gotten chances to do in our scrimmages.
“Any time you can get a shutout in lacrosse it’s pretty good. We were really pleased that we were able to utilize all of the kids on the bench, and they continued to play effectively, especially in the defensive end. Travis Carruthers played in goal the second half and made some nice saves after Zack Zayac played the first half,” he added.
Junior Carruthers finished with three saves, with starter Zayac called upon to make a lone first half stop.
In addition to Thomas and White, senior attackman Taylor Brown had three goals and two assists and junior attackman Jack Spallone two goals and five assists to help pace the CHS offense.
Other than scoring and saves, no further statistics were available.