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October 9, 2006

 

Dragons thwart late Kean surge

Catch

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Drew Lascari makes a leaping catch in the endzone while being covered by two Kean defenders late in the first quarter of Saturday’s NJAC game. The senior caught two TD passes in the Red Dragons’ 24-14 victory.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

After putting a fourth quarter scare into this undefeated SUNY Cortland football team, Kean University rookie head coach Dan Garrett offered this accurate assessment.
“There are no more easy weeks once you get to NJAC play,”_he said.
The Red Dragons are well aware of that simple fact after beating the pesky Cougars 24-14 on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon before a home crowd of 4,480 at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
The Red Dragons scored the opening 17 points in this New Jersey Athletic Conference contest and never looked back while improving to 3-0 in league play and 5-0 overall.
The Red Dragons’ junior quarterback, the nimble and accurate Alex Smith, threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns to earn NJAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Two of those end zone tosses were grabbed by senior wide receiver Drew Lascari.
But Cortland also had to turn back a frantic fourth quarter Kean comeback, which saw the Cougars pick up 129 of their 343 yards of total offense and successfully pull off an on-sides kick.
Nothing was safe until a fake field goal attempt by the Cougars with 3:44 left to play — holder Shane Meyer ruled to be a yard short in his dive for the goal line — was thwarted by the Red Dragons. Only then was a three-game winning streak by Kean (1-1 NAJAC, 3-2 overall) halted, leaving Cortland coach Dan MacNeill to offer a similar sentiment to counterpart Garrett.
“It’s the NJAC, dog-gone it. It’s a heck of a league,” said MacNeill after his defending co-champions and nationally ranked team_survived.
“We knew going in they were going to be a good team,” said Lascari, who finished with five catches for 84 yards. “All NJAC teams get our respect and this definitely was a battle.”
It turned into a battle after tailback Matt Rickert made a nifty run receiving a screen pass to score from eight yards out with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter. That put the Red Dragons ahead 24-6 and seemed to doom a Kean team that had not beaten Cortland in 10 previous meetings.
“It took us three quarters to believe we could play with Cortland,” said losing coach Garrett.
BEHIND THE PASSING of A.J. Roque — who was 23-for-39 for 266 yards and found quick-footed Brian Williams for 10 catches covering 120 yards — the Cougars from Union, N.J., responded. They traveled 75 yards after the ensuing kickoff, a TD drive capped by freshman running back Jared Chunn’s 1-yard run with 7:33 remaining. A Roque two-point PAT pass to shifty James Felton made this a 10-point game.
After Kean had an on-side kick recovery waved off on an off-sides infraction, the Cougars tried again and recovered the football again. They then used 11 plays to reach the Red Dragon 5-yard line, where on fourth down they set up for a 22-yard field goal. That’s when Garrett gambled, and the Cougars are still convinced holder Meyer reached the end zone contrary to the referee’s ruling.
Cortland took over on the 1-yard line. Rickert ran for one first down and Smith rolled out and completed a third down pass to Anthony Morat for another first down and the game was over.
“Momentum changed in the second half,” admitted senior Cortland linebacker Matt Montpetit, back in the line-up after missing last week’s win over William Paterson with a shoulder injury. “Their offense is different, something we haven’t seen all year. We just stayed with our base defense at the end. We were feeling a little tired, I’m not going to lie, but we pulled together.”
And why go for the TD gamble when Kean only needed 10 points for a tie?
“I didn’t want to go overtime against these guys,” said Kean’s Garrett. “We were looking to score two touchdowns and win_the game.”
“With all their misdirection, we didn’t know where the ball was sometimes,” said corner back Jeff Beck, whose interception at the Red Dragon 5-yard line spoiled the only Kean scoring threat in an opening half Cortland led 7-0. “They had us a little bit. They had us a little rattled.”
Inside linebacker Bill Hauser led the Dragons defense with nine tackles, with Beck and safety Stef Sair in on seven stops.
KEAN WAS ALSO its own worst enemy.
“We killed ourselves,” said Coach Garrett of the three lost fumbles, the costly first half interception and the 14 penalties called against the Cougars that cost them 109 yards of real estate. “Every time we did something good or got good field position, we’d shoot ourselves in the foot with some stupid play.”
Cortland could not take full advantage of Kean’s miscues, however.
“I think the offense moved the ball pretty well, we just didn’t finish and that was frustrating,” said Cortland coach MacNeill.
After Smith found Lascari in the back of the end zone with a 19-yard pass in the opening quarter, the Red Dragons had nothing to show for two drives stalled at the Kean 20- and 30-yard lines. One field goal attempt to salvage some points was blocked. Another Matthew Mintz 47-yard field goal try, taken in the final seconds of the first half, sailed just off target.
Cortland missed a scoring chance with the opening drive of the second half, too, when a third down end zone pass sailed past Red Dragon receiver Mike Lane and off Lascari’s chest. Mintz misfired on a 32-yard field goal try. “I thought it was Lane’s ball all the way, and then it went through him and hit me right in the chest,” said Lascari. “I never thought it would get to me.”
Two lost Kean fumbles in that same third quarter did set up 10 Red Dragon points.
The visitors coughed up the ball on a punt first, recovered by Red Dragon special-teamer Brian Bert at the 15. That led to a successful Mintz field goal, coming after a facemask penalty cancelled out a Rickert 3-yard sweep into the end zone.
Roque then lost a snap exchange to defensive tackle Mike Connolly on the Kean 29. On the next play, Smith rolled and Lascari snuck behind the secondary for a TD pass and a 17-0 lead.
The visitors then gained some confidence when Roque directed an 85-yard touchdown drive, Williams breaking a tackle and sprinting into the end zone on a 4th-and-3 play from the 23-yard line in the final minute of the third quarter.
And even when Cortland seemed to put the game away with Rickert’s TD screen pass, Kean kept coming on and coming on to keep things interesting.
THIS IS THE NJAC after all, where the other three games played this past weekend — Rowan surviving a Friday night scare from The College of New Jersey 14-6, Montclair State rallying past Buffalo State 22-14 and William Paterson upending Western Connecticut State 20-17 — were all close affairs.
Cortland’s next NJAC test comes Saturday at Western Connecticut State, a noontime kickoff in Danbury, Conn.

 

 

 

Dragons in ‘7th’ heaven

With Kelli Johnson setting a school career assist record, SUNY Cortland had little trouble settling this first place field hockey showdown.
Senior Johnson scored a goal and collected her career-record 38th assist to lead the nationally third-ranked Red Dragons to a convincing 3-0 victory over Geneseo Saturday afternoon at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex White Field.
With the win, the Red Dragons improved to 11-0 overall and 4-0 in the SUNYAC and claimed their seventh straight league title. The second place Knights fell to 7-4 and 3-1. Each team has one conference game remaining, and Cortland now holds the tiebreaker over Geneseo.
All three of the Red Dragons’ goals came in the opening half.
Senior Brit Paulus notched her ninth goal of the season 10:10 into the game. Johnson fired a pass from the top of the arc to Paulus, who stuffed a shot past Geneseo junior goalie Megan Coltoniak.
Johnson then made it a 2-0 game eight minutes later with a stellar individual effort. She carried the ball into the arc and unleashed a hard, bouncing shot that found the left side of the cage.
Sophomore Kayla Chambers — who has now scored at least one point in 10 of Cortland’s 11 games — completed the scoring at 28:39. Paulus sent a pass from the right side that Chambers converted into a shot. Coltoniak made the original save, but Chambers put the rebound on her backhand and squeezed a shot between the Geneseo goalie’s pads for her team-high 12th goal_of the season.
Geneseo’s best chance to score came in the second half when sophomore Sarah Doster sent a long ball that deflected off a Cortland player and on goal, forcing Cortland sophomore goalie Stacy Billings to make a kick save.
Marathon Central grad Billings made three saves for the Red Dragons, while Coltoniak stopped eight shots for the Knights.
Cortland hosts William Smith Wednesday in a 4:30 non-league_encounter.

 

 

Trojans champs at Rome tourney

ROME — Meghan Finn converted a nice feed from Laura Buerkle with eight minutes left in the second half as Homer Central girls won the Rome Free Academy Tournament Sunday with a 1-0 shutout over the host Black Knights.
The Trojans booters, who improved to 13-0-1, set a new school mark for consecutive games without a loss at 14. This breaks the previous mark of 13 set by the 1994 team that went 13-2-2.
It was also the 11th shutout of the season, two shy of tying the 2004 record of 13.
“It was a good weekend,” Homer coach Jim Baranello said. “We beat two quality opponents on back-to-back days. Rome is a good (Class) AA team. It gave us a good feel for what it will be like in post-season play.
“I was really happy with the way that we played. The girls played their best soccer of the season,” he added.
Homer 1, Rome Free 0: Beurkle sent the ball in on a corner-kick that Finn headed into the goal for the game-winner in the 72nd minute of play.
Buerkle earned Offensive MVP honors for her two days of work while keeper Hillary Simon, who made eight saves for the shutout, earned Player of Game honors. Meghan Marchetti was voted the Defensive MVP of the tournament.
Homer peppered Rome Free goalie Ashlee Armstrong throughout the game, Armstrong stood tall stopping 21 of 22 shots on goal to earn Tournament MVP honors.
Homer 5, Ilion 0: Homer got a very balanced scoring effort as five different players notched the five goals during this semifinal victory. Kaylee Benz, Buerkle, Marchetti, Erin McSherry and Emily Swisher each found the net. Erika Trivisonno dished out two assists while Finn and Molly Siwula each notched one assist. Morgan Osborne earned Player of the Match honors.
The Trojans took a 3-0 lead during first-half action before adding two more goals during second-half play.
With strong defensive play in front of her, Simon only needed to make two saves in 70 minutes while Danielle Reygers did not face a shot in the final 10 minutes. Jackie Reese made 10 saves for Ilion.
Homer All-Tournament team selections included Finn, Buerkle, McSherry, Trivisonno and Swisher.
Homer Central will return to OHSL Freedom Division action Tuesday as the Trojans travel to Jamesville-DeWitt for a 4:15 p.m. match.
HOMER JVs took third-place in the Rome Free Academy Tournament this weekend.
After dropping their semifinal round match to Ilion Saturday, the Trojan JVs (4-10 overall) won in a penalty-kick shootout over Holland Patent Sunday. After a scoreless 80 minutes, followed by two scoreless overtime stanza, Homer goalkeeper Melisa Devaney stopped the three-of-five penalty kicks to give the Trojans the 3-2 win.
Shelby Withiam was the Homer player of the match against Ilion with Courtney Rainbow earning the same honor against Holland Patent.