May 2 , 2007
Huge night for Cortland stickers
CHS girls knock off first place Red Rams
Photos by Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Amy LeRoux (5) has trouble escaping Cortland High defenders (from left) Beth Cutia, Janelle Stegeland, Bailey Reagan, and Jenna Phelps last night at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. CHS was an 8-6 winner.
The Cortland High girls’ lacrosse team saw its preparations pay off Tuesday night in an 8-6 win over Jamesville-DeWitt at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
Ironically, it was the same score by which the CHS boys beat host J-D on Tuesday.
“This the game we have been building up to for the past few weeks,” said Purple Tigers coach Kim Pace, whose second-place team improved to 6-2 in OHSL Freedom Division play (8-3 overall) with its seventh straight win while handing J-D its first loss in seven league games. “After losing to J-D earlier in the season, when we played them in a blizzard, the girls had something to prove tonight.”
CHS avenged an earlier 10-7 road loss from April 5.
“They pulled out everything they had, played with their heads and hearts and made a statement. We dominated the game from beginning to end, up and down the field. The teamwork and aggressiveness were outstanding. Everyone stepped up to the challenge they were faced with and filled their roll perfectly to help us win,” said Pace.
Cortland never trailed in the game after scoring the first two goals and five of the first six. The hosts led 6-3 at halftime, and after J-D’s Meredith Howe scored the first two goals of the second half to narrow the Cortland led to 6-5, senior midfielder Beth Cutia and junior midfielder Janelle Stegeland (from senior midfielder Kim Natoli) tallied to get the lead back up to three and end the suspense.
On the night, Stegeland led the way with three goals — she now has a team-high 31 on the season — while Cutia had two goals and an assist, Natoli a goal and an assist and Emily Walsh and Katherine Hunsberger one goal apiece. Senior goalie Danielle DePerno made nine saves, two more than the Red Rams’ Tara Prosak, as the winners had a 17-15 shot advantage.
Howe scored three timers, Lauren Cobb twice and Melissa Jaworski once for J-D, now 9-1 overall.
“Natalie Khazzaka played amazing on low defense, with repeated blocks and groundball pickups that started our transition through the midfield,’ Pace said. “Stephanie VanGorder held one of J-D’s leading scorers scoreless. The entire defense played as a unit, allowing J-D only one goal off a fast-break situation and none on settle situations, as five of their goals came off free positions.
“Beth Cutia was back at midfield today and played an outstanding game at both ends of the field, showing a great deal of senior leadership. She and Janelle Stegeland worked very well off one another, setting up our offense. We knew they were both going to get double-teamed and Bailey Reagan was going to get face marked, so our offense had to work extra hard to play off those situations, recognize when they were open and move to the open space for the feeds. The entire offense did an outstanding job of adjusting to J-D’s swarming defense.”
Pace praised her midfield, in particular Emily VanGorder, and noted that DePerno’s six first-half saves helped the winners maintain their momentum, Despite the relatively close final margin, Pace noted: “We dominated all over the field. Everyone stepped up and showed what I have been looking for all season. The girls knew that the team that was going to win was the team that made the fewest mistakes. We did just that, held on to the ball in our offensive end for minutes at a time and capitalized on J-D’s mistakes.
“After J-D pulled within two goals with just under seven minutes left in the game, we went into our stall,” she added. “We moved the ball around the offensive end of the field for over six minutes, playing monkey-in-the-middle with the J-D players. Kim Natoli did an excellent job of running in circles around the very aggressive J-D defenders, who fouled her repeatedly in an effort to regain control of the ball. They were able to come up with it with just under a minute to play, but in their effort to clear it out Caitlin Stevens made a beautiful interception at midfield to get the ball back in our offensive end for the final minute.”
CORTLAND JVs beat J-D 6-5 in the opening contest, no further details reported.
The varsity squad hosts Vestal at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the high school, while the JVs visit East Syracuse-Minoa Friday.
Purple Tigers trip J-D as Zayac saves the day
DeWITT — The Cortland High boys’ lacrosse team is closer to one of its goals, thanks in large part to the player in the Purple Tigers’ goal.
Senior Zach Zayac turned aside 14 shots, a large percentage of the highlight-reel variety, as a Purple Tigers squad ranked eighth in the latest Class B state poll used a third-quarter spurt to take control of the game for good en route to an 8-6 victory over host No. 6 Jamesville-DeWitt Tuesday night.
The two teams, which were pretty much unhindered by the constant rain in the first half and wet field conditions, are now deadlocked atop the OSHL Class B standings at 8-1, each having lost only to the other in league play. J-D scored a 7-6 overtime win at Cortland on April 5.
“Zach was absolutely amazing,” said Cortland coach John Spallone, whose team, now 11-2 overall, was outshot 27-25 n the contest. “I don’t know how many saves he made, but almost all of them were of the spectacular variety. This was certainly one of his better games. We’ve kind of gotten used to that level of play, that type of save, and big games from him this year.
“Winning the league was one of our goals coming into the season, and I don’t know if there’s a tie-breaker should we both win out. I know that goal differential head-to-head is in our favor. We’ll have to see.”
Time and again, especially in the second half, the Red Rams’ potent attack and pinpoint passing would put a man on the doorstep for what looked like a sure goal. Time and again, Zayac would get either his stick or his body in the way, eliciting gasps and cheers from fans of both teams.
“The defense played well, and put them in bad shooting position a lot of the time,” an obviously pleased Zayac said. “They helped me out; I rely on those guys. We wanted to win the league. It was one of our goals at the beginning of the season. We’ve worked hard for it, everyone has, and we’re seeing what we can do.”
While picking one save as his best was admittedly difficult, Zayac singled out a play with just under seven minutes left in the game in which J-D controlled a grounder and got the ball to junior attack John Clark, whose point-blank shot with the net open for just a split second was body-blocked by the lunging CHS goalie.
“Number one, we have an outstanding goalie who kept us in it the whole time, making big save after big save,” said CHS senior midfielder Joel White, like Zayac one of the team’s tri-captains. “He’s also great at outlets, hitting the midfielders in stride to get our transition game going, which is a big part of our offense this season.
“We kept getting face-offs, too,” he added, CHS winning 9-of-16 on the night, including 7-of-9 in the first half. “Theo (Bishop) did a great job, and it seemed like every time we needed a grounder we’d get it.”
“Our kids had plenty of chances to score, but their goalie was outstanding, the difference in the game,” J-D coach Jamie Archer said, his team now 9-3 overall. “He did a great job. The first time we played he made some tremendous saves, and this time it was the same thing. When a goalie’s hot kids try picking the corners with shots, which makes it easier for him. The ball just keeps looking bigger and bigger.
“Cortland was hungrier, and it seemed that they wanted it a little more. That was part of the difference, too. They hustled after grounders more than we did. They stepped it up, which says a lot about them. There’s a good chance we’ll see each other again (in sectionals). I’m sure our kids would like that.”
White scored the first goal of the game unassisted 1:12 in before the hosts took their only lead of the night on goals by junior attack Michael Edwards at 7:15 and senior attack Christian Daly at 5:23. White fed senior midfielder Jay Hartnett for the game-tying goal just under a minute later, and the first quarter ended at 2-2.
Cortland’s first spurt of the night, two goals in the space of just eight seconds, made it 4-2 for the visitors. Senior attack Taylor Brown converted a pass from junior attack Nate Thomas on a play that also involved junior attack Jack Spallone at 9:57. Brown tallied again off a Thomas assist at 9:49, and the Purple Tigers were in control.
J-D rallied to tie the game 4-4 at halftime, with sophomore midfielder Mac Keefus finding the net at 7:52 and senior attack Jim Marshall scoring with 4:28 left.
John Spallone and his staff didn’t have to delve back far to give their team some inspiration. “We reminded them at the start of the third quarter that we had faced adversity and knew how to handle it,” the CHS head man said. “We were tied 5-5 with Horseheads last Saturday and took control in the third quarter (en route to an 18-5 non-league win). We told them, ‘Let’s do the same thing’ — take control of the game in the third — and that spurt let us do it.”
Both goalies were sharp in the early stages of the third, J-D’s Zach Paz (12 saves in all) matching Zayac stop-for-stop. Jack Spallone put the Purple Tigers ahead for good with a point-blank shot from the left side with 6:51 left, before Bishop, the team’s third tri-captain, scored twice to make it 7-4. The first tally came 15 seconds after Spallone’s, and 1:29 later, with Cortland in a man-up situation, Bishop converted a pass from Brown.
“Taylor did a good job of getting me the ball, and I just looked at the goalie and ripped it,” Bishop said. “The first one was off a face-off. They didn’t come out on me, so I just put it between the goalie’s legs.
“I think the key in the second half was the midfield play of Joel, Jay and me. Everyone hustled after grounders, loose balls and face-offs, especially Joel; he left it all out on the field. I think he played all but about five minutes. Zach was unbelievable. He did everything we could ask him to, like every game. He’s the most dependable goalie I’ve ever played with.”
Clark scored with 28 seconds left in the third to make it 7-5, but the Red Rams would pull no closer. After another long scoreless period to start the fourth in which both goalies were sharp and both defenses tight, Thomas converted a pass from Bishop to put Cortland up 8-5 with 3:06 left and pretty much ice things. J-D senior midfielder George Kingma scored for the final margin with 2:17 left, but by then John Spallone had a good feeling about things.
“Someone asked me after the game if I was nervous the last couple of minutes,” he said with a laugh. “For most of the game I thought we really attacked on offense, tried to take advantage and go hard. It produced a lot of opportunities. We had quite a number of chances we didn’t capitalize on. Usually we try to be patient with the ball and are able to take control of the game that way; we were able to do that as the game went on and our defense (intact once again as junior Jesse Brown returned after missing two games due to illness) was solid, so I was pretty relaxed the last couple of minutes.”
Spallone was a even more tense once the victorious Purple Tiger got back home, as, by prior agreement, his team shaved down the hair on the right half of his head. The other part of the deal is that if the Purple Tigers beat visiting third-place East Syracuse-Minoa Friday they can finish the job and leave their coach bald.
“The league title isn’t a consideration now,” Spallone said. “We told the guys that they’re going to have to play another game like this one on Friday. When they look at me they’ll get a visual reminder of that.”
Friday’s game, in a 4:30 p.m. start at the high school, will be the rematch of a 17-6 Cortland victory on the Spartans’ home field April 10.
“We’re going to take every game as it comes and not let down, to sectionals and through to states,” Bishop said.
J-D still has to play ES-M in the second half of the league slate as well, the game set for May 10 at J-D. The Red Rams also still have a key non-league game against visiting Carthage, another top sectional Class B contender, May 14.
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Trojans get past first test
Homer Central girls responded well to the first big softball test in this crucial OHSL Freedom Division title chase.
The Trojans improved their league record to 4-2 and 7-3 overall with a tough 5-3 victory over visiting Mexico at Homer Elementary School Tuesday.
The Tigers fall to 2-3, 2-6 overall.
Phoenix (4-2, 7-4), who will face Homer today in a 4:30 p.m. game at the Homer Elementary School, kept pace with the Trojans with an 8-2 win over Cortland High (see related story). East Syracuse-Minoa (8-5) and Jameville-DeWitt (7-3) both stand at 5-2 in the division while Fulton (4-2) remains in the hunt at 3-2.
“This was a big win today,” said Homer coach Cris Colasurdo. “Mexico has been playing well and we needed to stay focused.
“We got solid pitching again,” Colasurdo added. “We also played good defense and we getting some key hits with runners on.”
Homer grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Stephanie Hartquist led off with a single. Lindsay Richards (2-for-4) followed with a push bunt for another base hit to put runners at first and second. Jenae Griffith hit a groundball, but Hartquist beat the throw to third for the force out to allow the Trojans to load the bases. With one out, Halee Riley grounded out to second base as Hartquist dashed across home plate.
The Trojans added one run in the bottom of the fourth inning before doubling their advantage to 4-0 in the fifth. Hartquist tripled to start the fifth and she scored, with one out, on a safe squeeze bunt by Griffith. After Griffith advanced to third on back-to-back passed balls, Vickie Smith hit a double to score Griffith.
Mexico rallied in the top of the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 4-3. With bases loaded and one out, Sonia Veiga hit into a fielder’s choice to plate one run. After Riley struck out the next batter, Chelsea Giovo dropped a single between two Trojan outfielders that scored two more runs before the Trojan defense closed the door.
The Trojans got a big insurance run in the bottom of the inning for a 5-3 lead. With two outs, Danielle Swarm singled and moved to second on a passed ball. Hartquist completed for 4-for-4 day with an RBI single.
HOMER JVs rolled to an 18-3 win at Mexico as Jessica Rigg tossed a no-hitter and struck out 11 Tigers. Courtney Rainbow paced the Trojan offense as she went 4-for-5 with a double and one RBI while Jamie Gray was 3-for-5 with one RBI on her first-ever home run. Ashley Crossway was also 3-for-4 with a triple with Alexis Brown going 2-for-4 with one ribbie.
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