November 8, 2007


Mintz big part of Cortaca lore

Stellar year for Cortland kicker


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland senior Matthew Mintz kicks off earlier this season, the Red Dragon currently the team scoring leader heading into Saturday’s Cortaca Jug game at Ithaca College.

Sports Editor

Forget about the normal case of nerves rattling within Matthew Mintz as he attempted the longest and the most important field goal of his football career last November.
What the SUNY Cortland place kicker remembers most about striding into that 40-yard overtime attempt with the Cortaca Jug on the line was the amazing crescendo swelling up within his helmet.
“The crowd noise, the noise as I was kicking it,” was the most vivid memory of the successful Mintz field goal that gave his Red Dragons a thrilling 23-20 overtime victory over rival Ithaca College a year ago before nearly 10,000 raucous fans packed into the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
“The sound of the crowd, from both sides, it was a pretty intense sound,” said Mintz. “And then the feeling they were all looking at me, it was an awesome thing to be a part of.”
Now a senior, Mintz hopes to lend a hand, well, make that foot, to Cortland’s bid for a third straight victory in this remarkable Cortaca Jug series. If recent history is any indication — considering nine of the last 10 games have been decided in the final minutes including overtime Cortland victories in the last two meetings — the outcome could hinge once again on a the abilities of someone like Mintz.
Cortland invades Butterfield Stadium in Ithaca at noontime on Saturday. All tickets have been sold in anticipation of even more drama unfolding in the 49th edition of this storied Cortaca Jug contest.
Both teams are 7-2 heading into the annual battle, and the winner will be in consideration for an NCAA Division III at-large playoff spot.
During his time as a Red Dragon, Mintz has developed into a record-setting kicker since earning the starting job late in the 2005 season. This season he leads the Red Dragons in scoring with 55 points, having connecting on 8-of-11 field goals and 31-of-32 extra-points. He broke the school record held previously by George Oostmeyer (2000-03) by making 70 consecutive PAT kicks dating back to his sophomore season, a streak stopped when 6-foot-4 Montclair State kick-blocking specialist Jeremy Mercer got in the way last month.
Mintz has not missed since Mercer’s block. And the consistency displayed by the Red Dragon and the depth he gets on kickoffs — which were moved back to the 30-yard line this season in college — has been a valuable Red Dragon asset.
“Any time you can put points on the board it’s good, and Mintz can certainly do that,” said Cortland head coach Dan MacNeill. “How valuable has be been? Well, how many points has he scored for this program? He means wins, victories.”
Mintz has scored 143 points in his career as a Cortland kicker, with 21 field goals to his credit. Oostmeyer is the school record holder with 31 field goals.
MINTZ NEVER HEARD of Cortland or the Cortaca Jug until he got out of high school.
He was an all-conference soccer player who also kicked for the football team at Lawrence High School on Long Island. He then received a nice financial package to move on and kick at New Haven, a Division II school in Connecticut.
New Haven, however, dropped football and Mintz was left looking for a new home.
One of the people at New Haven who recruited Mintz talked about Cortland and Upstate New York and the opportunities he could have to excel there. Getting a glimpse of the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex was the clinching factor to follow that advice, and in 2004 the Red Dragons had a new kickoff man in Mintz. Towards the end of his sophomore campaign he became the full-time place kicker.
Thoughts of making place kicking a profession arrived as a college freshman, and Mintz has diligently worked at getting better and better.
“Drills,” is the simple key to Mintz success. “Drills are a way to enhance any player’s potential at any position. Doing the same drills over and over will give you the consistency you need. As a kicker, you should drill six days a week, without a football.”
Getting prepared for this season, Mintz spent hours kicking with past Red Dragon punter Jimmy Cunneen. You could see them at the Stadium Complex or Butts Field in Homer practicing their trade — work that has paid off in this stellar season for Mintz.
“He wants to be challenged at any area of the field, and that’s what you want out of a kicker,” said MacNeill of the confident Mintz, who has been successful from 41 yards away this season.
“I would have liked to have had a shot at the NCAA record, which was 102,” said Mintz of this extra-point string that was halted, one of the few disappointments to this season. “That would have been a nice accomplishment to show people at the next level.”
YES, MINTZ HOPES to be a professional kicker and will be attending a upcoming semi-pro kicking camp looking to draw attention. A recreation major with a minor in communications, he should receive some post-season accolades, too. As a junior, he was a Football Gazette honorable mention Division III All-America selection.
“I have been told by coaches I have the leg to be a kicker in the pros,” said Mintz. “A kicker is in his prime years at 28 to 30. I’m still a young kid, am only going to be 23 this year. I’m still a little kid.”
Well, little is not a way to describe this Red Dragon. He is a sturdy 230-pounder who stands 6-foot-2, which draws comparisons from teammates to current Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Jankowski.
No wonder Mintz hopes to play a BIG role in his final Cortaca Jug appearance.
“Over the years I’ve gotten to enjoy being a part of this game, being a part of ‘The Biggest Little Game in the Nation’,” he says, using the oft-repeated phrase Sports Illustrated once gave to the Cortaca Jug. “It’s such a good experience for both Cortland and Ithaca teams, and I’m lucky to have been involved in that.”



Red Dragons take care of 1st round NCAA foe

Opening up the NCAA Division III field hockey tournament facing an opponent with a .500 record figured to favor SUNY Cortland, and the Red Dragons had no trouble taking care of business.
Junior Kayla Chambers and sophomore Christine McCabe scored goals in the opening 16 minutes as the nationally eighth-ranked Red Dragons dominated visiting Kenyon College 2-0 in Wednesday’s first round game.
The Red Dragons (17-3), making their 23rd NCAA showing and 16th in the last 17 years, advance to play Rowan University in the second round Saturday at 2 p.m. at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
That four-team regional will also have Bowdoin (16-0) taking on Skidmore (14-5) on Saturday. The regional final is slated for Sunday. Skidmore advanced with a 2-0 shutout victory over Alvernia in yesterday’s opening round.
Cortland out-shot Kenyon by a whopping 13-1 margin and earned 16 penalty corners to none for the guests. Goalie Stacy Billings, the junior out of Marathon, was not required to make any saves to post her seventh shutout of the season.
Junior Karen Thompson made five saves for the Ladies (11-12) from Ohio, making their second straight NCAA appearance and third overall.
On this chilly afternoon outing at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex, the Red Dragons opened the scoring 4:54 into the game when Chambers scored her team-high 17th goal of the season. Chambers sent a penalty corner pass to sophomore Kylie Burghardt at the top of the circle. Burghardt fired the ball toward the left post, where Chambers was able to deflect the ball past Thompson into the cage.
McCabe extended the Red Dragon lead 15:24 into the half. A clearing attempt by Kenyon’s Thompson was thwarted by McCabe, who gathering the ball just outside the arc. She carried the ball into the circle and blasted a shot that deflected off Thompson and went in.
Cortland had some scoring chances in the second half, but Thompson made four of her five saves over the final 35 minutes. Kenyon’s lone official shot was a spinning attempt by freshman Liz McBean that went wide right with less than 16 minutes remaining.



Unbeaten Stingers facing tougher test

The Cortland YMCA Stingers are off to a 2-0 start to the dual meet season, including this past Saturday’s victory over Watertown.
The Stingers defeated the visiting Blue Sharks 464-201 while winning nine of the 10 age groups contested. That came after a victory the previous weekend at Oneonta were the Cortland squad also dropped just a single age group.
Head coach Mike Falls and assistant Mike Kennedy, who are aided by four assistants and venerable team director Dick Williams, are leading a group some 65 enthusiastic swimmers into this season.
The Stingers will be tested on Saturday when the Norwich Dolphins visit. Norwich is an up-and-coming team in the Central New York circuit.
“The kids are swimming great for so early in the season,” said Coach Falls. “I am looking forward to a strong year with lots of personal best times and exciting competition. The Norwich meet will be a good meet to see where we really stand andhelp us focus on setting some goals to pursue.”
The Stingers are setting their sights on hosting the CNY Swimming League District Championships in early February, leading to a trip to Long Island for the state meet a month later.
The team is still accepting swimmers to compete in this 2007-08 season.