April 25, 2007


Red Dragons alone in first

Willis sets assist record in romp over Brockport


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Jennifer Willis, right, of SUNY Cortland changes direction as defender Emily Moore of Brockport slips Tuesday at the Stadium Complex. Senior Willis became the all-time assist leader as the Red Dragons rolled to 16-4 victory.

Sports Editor

After the SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse team took their accustomed spot alone atop the conference standings with remarkable ease, senior Jennifer Willis confessed to the obvious.
“I do like assists,” said the Red Dragon midfielder after becoming the school’s all-time leader in that department. “It’s a selfless move instead of being selfish. It’s good to see your teammates score.”
There was plenty of goal-scoring to admire for the home side during this chilly Tuesday afternoon showdown between two SUNY Athletic Conference unbeaten teams with matching seven-game win streaks, as Cortland cruised to a lopsided 16-4 victory over an ambitious Brockport squad.
Willis finished with three goals and three assists as the Red Dragons dominated this SUNY Athletic Conference battle for first place. She broke the school record with her 99th career assist setting up one of five goals scored by classmate Andrea Venditti some 14 minutes into the game. She reached 100 assists moments later when Gina Fazio, another Red Dragon senior, broke free in front of the Brockport crease to convert a point-blank scoring chance.
“What is great about Willis is she has always been unselfish on the field,” said head coach Cynthia Wetmore after the Red Dragons improved to 5-0 in SUNYAC play and 10-3 overall. “There have been several times when she could have gone for a goal and she passes off. She’s really honed that skill to pass it.”
Cortland passed a test against an improved Brockport squad that emerged just this season as a conference contender. But with Cortland controlling draws a by a 16-6 margin, with defender Cici Carter keeping Brockport freshman and scoring leader Lexie Goodhart under control, with freshman goalie Deanne Abell making several point blank stops among her nine saves to deflate the visitor’s spirits, this game was not close.
“We were ready today. We knew we had to make a statement,” said Venditti, who now has 37 goals on the season. While she led the Cortland scorers, Fazio added three goals and an assist and freshman Jessie Fritz pumped in a pair of goals.
BROCKPORT DID strike first, Jenny Baccile scoring the first of her three goals a mere 41 seconds into the game. The junior converted from close range on a heads-up pass by Goodhart to give the Golden Eagles (4-1 SUNYAC, 9-3 overall) an early confidence boost.
But over the next 14-minutes Cortland struck for eight unanswered goals to drain any drama from the proceedings.
Venditti worked her way to the crease from the left of goal with 1:06 left to play to complete her huge opening half, goalie Abell made a big save in the final seconds and Cortland was in 9-2 command at the break.
Cortland then scored the first five goals of the second half, Willis with a pair of tallies and an assist to Fazio, to put the game out of reach. Fritz also had a goal during that early spurt, capped by defender Carter getting the chance to cash in on a free position scoring chance on the other end of the field. Carter’s goal with 8:45 left to play had the Red Dragons ahead 14-2.
The two sides traded goals the rest of the way, Baccile scoring twice for the Golden Eagles sandwiched around tallies by Cortland’s Ali Bourgal and Anna Fahey.
It was no surprise seniors like Willis, Venditti, Fazio, Bourgal and Carter led the way in this victory, veterans left over from last year’s NCAA Tournament Final Four squad.
“It means a lot, just being able to handle the pressure,” said Venditti of the advantage of having experienced players in a game like this.
Cortland, ranked 12th nationally in this week’s Division III poll, is chasing after an eighth consecutive SUNYAC title. In the 10 seasons under the direction of Wetmore, the Red Dragons are accustomed to winning as her 141-36 coaching record attests.
CORTLAND HAS also won 25 consecutive home games, a streak they will look to continue when former Red Dragon and current Geneseo coach Carly Peters Ritchlin brings her second place squad to town for a noontime affair this Saturday. Geneseo escaped 15-14 in overtime against Oneonta yesterday to improve to 5-1 in conference play and 10-2 overall.
A win over Geneseo will secure the home field advantage for the Red Dragons when the SUNYAC Playoffs are held May 4-5. Cortland still has to finish the regular season with a rescheduled trip to Buffalo State on Monday.
Handling Brockport was certainly a nice boost for Cortland heading into these late-season challenges.
“I thought the difference for us was going to be on the defensive end, and it was,” said Wetmore of getting past Brockport. While raving about Carter’s work, the coach also felt sophomore Lindsay Bakker did a good job keeping Brockport’s Julia Decker without a point.
Dominating draws, which led to a 29-18 Cortland shot advantage, also loomed large, too. “We did a great job of possessing the ball and controlling the game,” summed up Wetmore.



Purple win 5th straight

FULTON — The Cortland High girls’ lacrosse team pushed its winning streak to five games Tuesday by romping past host Fulton 19-6.
Senior midfielder Kim Natoli led the way with six goals for the Purple Tigers, who improved to 4-2 in the OHSL Freedom Division and 6-3 overall. Junior midfielder Janelle Stegeland had three goals and an assist, while junior attack Emily Walsh and sophomore midfielder Katherine Hunsberger had two goals apiece.
“This was the most balanced game we have played all season, in every aspect,” CHS coach Kim Natoli said. “We played hard and smart from the first whistle to the last whistle of both halves. We controlled the tempo of the game, never allowing Fulton to gain any momentum. There were very few mental letdowns, which is something we have struggled with for many games.
“Every attack player and midfielder had at least one assist, which is the best evidence of a balanced offense. There is nothing that could make a coach any happier than to see many players contribute to a win. On the other end of the field, the defense continued to do an outstanding job of communicating and working together to cause numerous turnovers, which started the midfield transition and scoring opportunities.”
Cortland senior goalie Victoria Convertini made eight saves as the winners rolled up a 31-17 shot advantage. The Purple Tigers took control of the game by breaking a 1-1 tie with six straight goals in the span of a little more than 10 minutes, and took a 10-3 lead into halftime.
Pace praised Convertini for her effort, especially in the second half, when the Fulton came alive, as well as defenders Kaitlin Houck, Natalie Khazzaka, Stephanie VanGorder and Beth Cutia. She also praised her midfield and attack players, noting that “Today everyone filled their role on the team, played hard and did something to contribute to the win. It was an all-around team effort that led to the victory.”
Cortland won the JV game 8-6, with no further details reported.
Both Cortland teams host non-league opponent Marcellus Thursday at the high school, the varsity at 4:30 p.m. and the junior varsity at 6 p.m.  




CHS wins battle on Homer courts

In a very tightly contested OHSL Freedom Division tennis contest that saw five of seven matches go all three sets, it was a key three-set by Luka Starmer at third singles that lifted visiting Cortland High to a 4-3 win over rival Homer Central Tuesday.
The Purple Tigers improve to 2-2 in division play, 3-3 overall while the Trojans drop to 0-3 in division and overall action.
Starmer lost the first set to Keegan Mastroe 6-7, with a 7-5 tiebreaker, but bounced back to win the next two sets 6-3 and 6-2 for the fourth and decisive Cortland team point.
“After losing the first set in the tie-breaker, Luka had a choice,” said Cortland coach Bob Walrath. “Rather than hang his head and look back at what could have been, he chose to play solid tennis in the next two sets. He hustled on every ball and didn’t give up. Obviously that was a huge situation for him with the team match on the line. We are very happy for Luka.”
Cortland jumped to a 2-0 lead as Doug Robbins won 6-4, 6-3 over Reilly Mastroe in straight sets at second singles while the first doubles pairing on Ben Girtain-Plowe and Tom Russell were 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 winners over Ryan Sullivan and Jon Southwick.
“Doug Robbins got us started in the right direction,” said Walrath. “Tom and Ben won a tough match against a good opponent. They played together well backing each other up, taking care of the ball cutting down on errors in the third set.”
Homer got its first win as Andy Saraceno and Jeff Eves were 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 winners at second doubles over Greg Wissink and Evan Henkel.
“Andy and Jeff play with such determination,” said Homer coach Nancy Cavallier. “It just very exciting watching them play.”
Playing his first match in three weeks because of a school trip to France, Steve Klotz made in 3-1 in favor of the Purple Tigers after his three-set win over Chris Bauer at first singles, but the Trojans bounced back as Stefan Haugen and Chris Davenport downed Aaron Medford and Colin Heasley in straight sets.
With everything hanging in the balance, Starmer got his big win before Dan DiGiovanna posted his 6-2, 0-6, 6-2 win over Chris Decker at third singles.
“Every match was highly contested,” said Walrath. “Both teams played hard and were prepared. The match could have gone either way.”
“I’m very pleased with the boys tonight, especially when you can see improvement,” Cavellier added. “What a great match that went right down to the wire.”
Both teams return to Freedom Division action Thursday with 4:30 p.m. matches. Cortland High will host East-Syracuse Minoa Thursday while Homer will travel to Chittenango. Cortland will also host the Freedom Division Tournament Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.