May 1 , 2008


Purple Tigers take control

Draws, transition game lead to toppling Trojans


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Caitlin Stevens (left)  looks upfield while being hounded by Kimmy Carboine of Homer Central during Wednesday’s OHSL Freedom lacrosse game. CHS stayed unbeaten in league play with a 19-6 win at Butts Field in Homer.

Staff Writer
Draw controls and offensive transition told the story of the game Wednesday night as the Cortland High girls’ lacrosse team visited Homer Central.
The Purple Tigers, the 10th-ranked Class C team in the state this week, won 21 of the game’s 26 draws and used that plus a strong transition game to keep the ball in Homer’s end of the Butts Field turf for most of the night in what ended up a 19-6 OHSL Freedom Division victory.
“The girls have been working really hard as getting possession right off the draw,” said Cortland coach Kim Pace, her team having improved to 9-0 in the league and 9-1 overall. “They work well together, and we have a lot of height and some aggressive players. They all know who to get the ball to, how to get it out there quickly.
“I was a little surprised at how the game went. You never know when you play Homer,” he added. “They came out strong, and I thought it would be close because they has some confidence that they could hang with us. But we had more legs and could run longer. We have more midfield depth. Their middies got tired and we’ve got so many girls we can sub in.”
“Their transition hurt us, and we didn’t take care of draw controls,” said Doug Pasquerella, back as the Homer head coach after a five-year absence and trying to revitalize the program. “Cortland’s a real good team that’s been together a long time. They’re the number-one team in our league, and I’d seen them play a couple of times. You can’t just shut down one player. They have seven or eight they can go to, so pick your poison. We’re still growing from last year, and trying to get better after some down years since I left.
“The girls played hard, and moved the ball well, but this game was like our season, with highs and lows. We need to try to stay on an even keel,” he said.
Cortland used its quickness and sharp passing in transition to score the first three goals of the game — by Katherine Hunsberger, Emily Walsh and Caitlin Stevens — in the first 2:31, but Homer answered back with tallies from Lindsay Wilson and Morgan Osborne in a span of 1:11 to make it a one-goal game early on.
Cortland got the next two goals from Molly Bramschreiber and Hunsberger before Homer’s Kaylee Benz scored to make it 5-3 with 17:51 left in the first half. The visitors then took over and scored the last eight goals of the first half, including two each from Hunsberger and Janelle Stegeland, to make it 13-3 at intermission.
The 10-goal margin meant, by rule, a running clock in the second half unless the Cortland lead slipped back to single digits, which didn’t happen. Also by rule, the last two minutes were timed normally, including stoppages.
“EVERYONE GOT A chance to play, and we could run some plays to take time off the clock,” Pace said. “We knew we could run the fast break, but we didn’t need to in the second half. We worked on our control game, and let kids who don’t see a lot of time step up.”
Stegeland had four goals and an assist and Hunsberger four goals to pace Cortland, and are tied for the team lead in scoring with 45 points each. Bailey Reagan had two goals and five assists and Caitlin Stevens, Molly Bramschreiber and Lisa Frare two goals each. Wilson scored three goals to pace Homer, now 1-7 in the league and 3-7 overall.
“Bailey was a leader offensively,” Pace said. “She did a great job of driving from behind, drawing the double team and then finding her open teammate right in front of the cage. Our midfielders also did a great job of reading the passes and making interceptions before the ball made it to our defensive end of the field. Natalie Muka, Caitlin Stevens, Emily VanGorder and Jenna Phelps combined for 11 interceptions.”
Stegeland, now with 29 goals on the season, was also the draw control standout for the winners, but spread the credit around.
“We all worked together on draws and groundballs, and did really well around the circle,” she said. “We look for the extra pass in our transition game, and our defense did a really good job of collapsing on their leading scorers (Wilson and Benz) and controlling them. Caitlin Stevens did a good job of marking (Benz), and Caitlin Cottone had a great game in goal for us.”
“It was all of us working together and not letting down,” said Hunsberger, whose 30 goals lead the team, in discussing the keys to victory. “We played well in transition.”
For her part, Wilson, who has scored 28 goals and a team-high 35 points this season, said of her individual success: “I like to fake one way and then go the other and try to be one step ahead. It’s hard to go against the top team in the league. We have to keep our heads up high and work at getting better as a team
“The draws were the big thing. We would have liked to have kept it a little closer.”
THE WINNERS HAD a 28-12 shot advantage in the contest and picked up 24 of the game’s 35 groundballs. Cottone made eight saves in the Purple Tiger nets, while Lexi Johnston had five saves in the first half for Homer and Krista Guy stopped five second-half shots.
“Having been down for awhile, our goal is to make sectionals,” said Pasquerella, whose team needs to win five of its last eight games to do so. “It’s still attainable.”
Pace said that her team’s lone loss this season, 16-11 to visiting Westhill in an April 17 non-leaguer, was “definitely a plus. It was an eye-opener. We’d had some big wins against newer programs. After that game, we had girls play different positions in practice to see what it’s like for their teammates. It definitely came at the right time.
“It also helped the girls realize that moving the ball in the air instead of running a long way with it makes us a better team by getting the ball down the field faster, ahead of the other team’s defense, and keeps us fresher. Our fast break has come a long way in the last two weeks.”
Both teams are back in action at 4:30 p.m. Friday, when Cortland hosts East Syracuse-Minoa and Homer visits Fulton.
CORTLAND JVs improved to 9-1 on the season with an 11-4 win over Homer, which fell to 4-3. Carly Cunningham led the Purple Tigers with four goals and an assist, while Maggie Brown had two goals and two assists. Maya Gebhardt, Kaitlyn Drach, Marissa Mastronardi and Taylor Reynolds had a goal and an assist apiece, while Kaylee Gebhardt scored once. Goalie Julie Convertini made 21 saves.
“Teamwork was the key factor in winning this game,” Cortland coach Phyllis Litzenberger said. “Our transition game is improving in every contest as we work very hard to get to the open space and move the ball through the air.”
Annabelle Jones scored twice for the Trojans, while Danielle Reygers and Hannah Davis had one goal apiece. Kathleen Norris stopped 10 saves between the pipes.
“Overall my team worked on things that we needed to work on,” Homer coach Sallie Gilliland said. “Communication on defense is what hurt us in the first half. We continue to grow every game, and that is what matters to our program. It’s not about winning, it’s about working on those goals that we set for our team each game.”
Gilliland cited Kenzi Sullivan as the winner of the offensive award for leading the hosts in ground balls, a category they won with 26, and Jones (four ground balls, two assists) as the defensive award winner.
The Cortland JVs host ES-M at 6 p.m. Friday, while Homer’s road game with Fulton that same day also starts at 6 p.m.