April 7, 2011


Red Dragons take control

Turn 2-0 first quarter deficit into 13-4 win over Bombers

Sports Editor

For the opening 15 minutes at least, while grabbing a surprising 2-0 lead in impressive fashion, Ithaca College seemed capable of pulling off this lacrosse upset.
Then SUNY Cortland held the visiting Bombers scoreless for 35 minutes and 42 seconds of play, reeled off 11 unanswered goals during that stretch of complete dominance and cruised to a lopsided 13-4 victory Wednesday evening.
Senior attackman Jay DiStefano netted three goals and picked up an assist during that remarkable Red Dragon run, while junior midfielder Zack Mulvaney and freshman attackman Mark Panneton got the hosts untracked early in the second quarter by scoring three goals within a 39-second second quarter span. They each finished with two goals.
Cortland also won 11 consecutive faceoffs over a stretch started late in the opening stanza and carrying over into the fourth quarter, dependable seniors Chris DeLuca and Justin Battino doing that dirty work. That was another deciding factor in a match-up of Central New York rivals who shared 5-2 overall records coming into the non-conference contest.
That also led to some eavesdropping in on the post-game conversation between two cohorts and assistant coaches — the Red Dragons’ Mike Abbott and the Bombers’ Rich Barnes strolling off the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex turf together to discuss what had just taken place.
Abbott is the former Red Dragon All-America midfielder. Cortland native Barnes — a former standout goalie at both Cortland High and SUNY Cortland — guided the Red Dragons to a national title as an interim head coach in 2006 when Abbott was his senior sparkplug. Barnes is currently back for his third stint as an IC assistant under head man Jeff Long.
Barnes was commenting on how the Bombers looked like world-beaters before suffering a second straight setback, having come into the game off a loss to Union College this past weekend.
“That’s what I told them at half-time,” said Barnes of having out-played Cortland in the early going. “If they’re the fifth-ranked team in the nation — which I don’t think they are, I think they’re better than that — I said then maybe we were the No. 1 or No. 2 team for a quarter. How can we figure out to play like that for four quarters?”
“We’re still working on that, too,” countered Abbott, referring to Cortland’s own early-season inconsistency.
“Hey, we made mistakes tonight. The difference between the Unions of the world and the Cortlands of the world is that you guys capitalize,” Barnes said to Abbott. “We played well on defense, and then in the second quarter you guys came at us more. We still, I thought, were playing okay defense but then they would show too hard and your guys were wide open.”
“We made a couple of ridiculous shots, too,” noted Abbott.
CORTLAND FIRED OFF 45 shots overall, and might have done even more offensive damage if not for 17 saves from Ithaca senior goalie David Gal.
The Red Dragons had only a handful of shots in the opening quarter. Ithaca took a quick 1-0 lead when senior Ryan Lowe bounced in a shot 4:09 into the game. Junior IC attackman Tom Mongelli scored the first of his two goals in the final minute to put the hosts in a 2-0 hole.
“I think we came out a little bit flat,” said Cortland senior DeLuca, who had two assists to go along with his impressive faceoff work — the Red Dragon capturing nine of the 11 faceoffs he took.
“We calmed down a bit, got together and got back to executing. I think we just fell away from executing a little bit,” he added. “Coach (Steve Beville) said to just get back to what we do, get back to running our offense and playing the way we do.”
Cortland’s second midfield bunch helped turn things around in the second quarter, starting when Carthage native Mulvaney zinged a shot from the left flank past Ithaca’s Gal at the 10:12 mark of the second quarter. His middie mate Eric Martin provided the assisting pass.
Eight seconds later this game was tied as DeLuca won the ensuing faceoff, pressured the Ithaca crease and fed a wide-open Panneton for a point-blank goal. A half-minute later it was Panneton’s turn to fire home a shot from the left side, Mulvaney the assistman, and Cortland was ahead to stay.
Before half-time arrived, freshman midfielder Joe Slavik scored on a sweep to his right and DiStefano struck at 2:11 and 2:05 — scoring from that same left-side slot. DeLuca’s faceoff work set up the second of those two DiStefano tallies.
“We’re weren’t moving as fast as we should have in terms of ball moving and just dodging hard. Once we settled down and dealt with the defense they were throwing as us, making it a little more difficult for us to get the ball around and doing what we wanted to do, we settled down and started running hard and going right at them. We started getting the looks we wanted,” said assistant coach Abbott of how Cortland turned that 2-0 deficit into a 6-2 half-time lead.
THE RED DRAGONS advantage grew to 10-2 after the third quarter, when attackman Mike Tota, DiStefano, midfielder Neal Hopps and Mulvaney all scored.
And two and a half minutes into the final quarter, after Ithaca denied a Cortland fast break scoring chance, midfielder Pat Hayes pounced on a ground ball and fired in the 11th consecutive Cortland goal. Ithaca senior Michael Silipo finally ended his side’s scoring slump with a goal with 10:05 left to play, but the damage had been done.
Thomas Casey and Matt DiMarco would pick up additional fourth quarter goals for Cortland, DiMarco’s extra-man goal the first as a Red Dragon for the freshman from Liverpool.
Freshman Scott Tota made his second start in goal for the Red Dragons and finished with 10 saves. The Cortland close defense led by Justin Schneidman and freshman Brian Winterfeldt held Ithaca in check, too, as leading Bombers scorer Jay Lucas was blanked. Winterfeldt had six ground balls and created four Ithaca turnovers, both team highs.
“We have a better mind-set. We just have to keep working hard,” said team captain DeLuca of a second straight Cortland victory after having dropped back-to-back games to nationally-ranked foes Stevenson and RIT in March.
“We’re practicing much harder and have a better attitude during practice,” he added, as Cortland chases after a third straight win when Brockport visits for a 7 p.m. Friday night SUNY Athletic Conference game at the Stadium Complex.


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