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November 9 , 2006

 

Special feel to Cortaca Jug

Handling emotions crucial in grid battle

Cortaca

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland tailback Matt Rickert (20), running behind the block of teammate John Longinott, is familiar with Cortaca Jug emotions. Cortland hosts Ithaca Saturday in the 48th Cortaca Jug contest.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Ithaca College defensive back Joe Napoleone remembers the last time he stepped onto the turf at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex to do battle in the Cortaca Jug game.
As a sophomore he could not help but to look up at the throngs of people packing the place, could not help but feel a tingle reverberate through his body prior this annual football match-up sending his Bombers against SUNY Cortland.
Now as a senior team captain, looking ahead to the 48th Cortaca Jug game that kicks off at noontime Saturday in Cortland, he understands the importance of trying to focus on the task at hand and not be overwhelmed by the occasion.
“You have to realize it’s a football game and you can’t let your emotions get to you,” says Napoleone,_a cornerback from Rochester. “When the whistle blows, you have to play football.”
That is not as easy as is sounds.
There is more than tradition making this game special, the Cortaca Jug started in 1959 as the brainstorm of Cortland captain Tom Becker and Ithaca captain Dick Carmean. This will be the 65th overall meeting between the two schools, who first played in 1930.
This week both Cortland (8-1) and Ithaca (7-2) have NCAA Division III post-season aspirations riding on the result, too.
Even if that were not the case, this game has developed into something special — helped out by the fact eight of the past nine meetings have been decided by eight points or less. Last year Cortland was a 37-30 winner at Ithaca in the first Cortaca Jug contest to go into overtime.
Sports Illustrated once labeled the contest: “The Biggest Little Game in the Nation.”
Cortland head coach Dan MacNeill, who played in the Cortaca Jug for the Red Dragons and served as an assistant coach for the Bombers, likes the phrase: “Tug for the Jug.”
“The Route 13 Rivalry” is yet another way to describe this occasion, citing the main thoroughfare between these two schools some 20 miles apart.
“It’s a marvelous atmosphere surrounded by great ambience and everyone enjoys being a part of it,” says MacNeill.
“The crowd will have a lot of electricity and you have to feed off that,” says Cortland defensive end Rich Coyne.
“It’s a special environment and an experience most Division III athletes are unable to relate to,” says Ithaca senior center Justin Brunell.
The game is already sold out,_with 9,500 tickets having been_distributed.
The game will be televised live by Time Warner Cable, can be seen on Channel 98 here in Cortland. People can also listen in on the radio, Homer’s WXHC FM 101.5 broadcasting the game with Bob Comstock and Bruce Eves behind their microphones. Their description of the action can also be heard on the internet at www.wxhc.com.
“THIS HAS BECOME the game to play in,” says Ithaca head coach Mike Welch, who was first introduced to the Cortaca Jug as a Bomber running back. He has been part of 26 Cortaca Jug games in total, and is 6-6 against Cortland since becoming the Ithaca head coach in 1994.
“It was a little different back then. There may have been a 1,000 people, but it was still our big game,” he said of his playing days. He tells the tale of being tackled by a Red Dragons linebacker Bill Giugliano in the early1970s, who had some choice words for Welch when they ended up face-mask to face-mask. The irony was, the two had just become close friends away from the gridiron.
“It’s the little things in the big game that players will always remember,” says Welch.
Red Dragons senior linebacker Matt Montpetit still recalls as a freshman the pre-game talk quarterback and team captain J.J. Tutwiler gave the squad before the Cortaca Jug, relating the up-and-down nature of the rivalry and what to expect. He remembers showing up at Ithaca that year, having bottles thrown at the team bus and getting revved up for combat.
“You feel the heat of the crowd in that kind of atmosphere,” said Montpetit, who has always displayed the fiery disposition of a linebacker. “You do settle in, but it might take you a series to do it.”
“Having been a starter in this game for four years, having been here for five years, I kind of know the dramatic ups and downs of the game,” said senior Red Dragon running back Matt Rickert. “You have to appreciate the fact that it’s only a game.  You have to focus on your play and what you have to do, and then the crowd becomes secondary.”
OF COURSE, THE student bodies and alumni of both schools get fired up for this rite of autumn, too — which has caused problems in_the past.
Both teams sent out letters to the community prior to the game, Rickert reading Cortland’s during a Wednesday press conference promoting the game. The letter talks about the “responsibility of being a fan” and encouraged everyone to “do the right thing come Nov. 11.”
That’s why SUNY Cortland Vice President of Student Affairs Rich Peagler noted there will be a ‘strong police presence” at the game.
That’s why Ithaca College Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life Brian McAree — a Cortland graduate who admitted “my heart is blue” in his loyalty to IC — voiced his concern that fans think twice about taunts and inappropriate cheers.
That is why SUNY Cortland Chief of Policy Steven Dangler told stories of thwarting past fans trying to enter the premises using counterfeit tickets.
Dangler also pointed out that in 2002 at the Stadium Complex there were only two arrests for minor violations. And in 2004, there were three arrests for minor violations.
His goal is for no arrests this Saturday.

 

 

 

Familiar foe up next for McGraw

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

Coach John Rutan knows exactly what the keys to victory will be when his Section 3 champion McGraw Central girls’ soccer team meets Section 4 winner Milford in a state regional quarterfinal Class D contest at 11 a.m. Saturday at Chittenango.
“Defensively we have to do a good job of playing man-for-man on them and not ball-watch,” said Rutan, whose Eagles are the fifth-ranked Class D team at the state at 19-0-1 after blanking Madison 2-0 last Saturday for their third sectional crown in four years. “They’re a good passing team and good at give-and-goes, so the girls are going to have to stay with their marks. We didn’t use the width of the field well against Madison, and Milford is strong down the middle, with real good sweepers. We need to use the outside to get in position to score a little better, or we’ll be in trouble.”
The two teams have already met once, McGraw winning a 3-1 shootout Sept. 10 after the teams played to a 1-1 tie in the Hall of Fame Soccer Tournament’s Group 3 championship game. “I don’t think we play a lot different than we did earlier in the year,” Rutan said. “Hopefully, we’re a little better.
“It’s easier when you get to this stage to play a team you haven’t seen. Then you can concentrate on your own game and make them react to you, rather than concentrating on them.”
“We’re not the same team now that we were in September,” said Milford coach Lorin Campbell, whose Wildcat squad, which has just six seniors on its 30-player post-season roster, is 19-1-2 and ranked seventh in the state among Class D teams. “We’re more mature. Our young players have improved as our seniors have led the way for them.
“We knew after the shootout that we could play with McGraw, which is pretty much a veteran team and much bigger physically than we are. It was a very skilled game, with no physicality or malicious stuff, and John said to me afterwards that maybe we’d meet down the road. Well, we are. To me, though, post-season is about going against teams you haven’t seen before.”
“In a game like this — if both teams play well, it should be real tight — the key players get all the attention, so quite often it’s the other players who come through big,” Rutan said. “That will be another key — which players step up when the top players nullify each other.”
Jen Rutan, a senior forward-midfielder and the coach’s daughter, leads the Eagles offensively with 18 goals and 14 assists. Freshman forward Emily Williams has 17 goals and seven assists and freshman midfielder Nicole Law 12 goals and seven assists. Sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Hayes has allowed only seven goals all season, compiling 14 shutouts (in 20 games) while making just 27 saves.
Milford is also led in scoring by the coach’s daughter, as junior halfback Brenna Campbell has 33 goals and 17 assists. Junior forward Maria Arnot is next with 20 goals and 14 assists, and junior goalkeeper Chynna Pitlock has allowed 10 goals in 21 games this fall, with 13 shutouts.
“I think Jen, at defensive center midfielder, and Campbell will mark each other,” John Rutan said with a laugh. “Both teams have real strong defenses and good keepers. Midfield play will be important — they use a 4-4-2 alignment — and (senior) Diane Ralyea was a star there against Madison and (junior) Tory Finton is an extremely hard worker at midfield.”
“The girls remember what’s going on (after the teams’ first meeting),” Campbell said. “They’re excited to be where we are, and still playing.”
The Milford coach noted that his squad is completely healthy, while John Rutan said that sophomore midfielder Kailee Williams (stress fracture of the lower leg) and junior back Katie Niver (medical issues) are doubtful for Saturday’s contest.
The McGraw-Milford winner will face the survivor of Friday’s regional between Section 5 champion Arkport and North Collins from Section 6 in one of the state semifinals, at 5 p.m. Nov. 17 at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. Arkport (22-0) is the top-ranked D team in the state, while North Collins (11-7) is 15th but upset third-ranked Ellicottville in the Section 6 championship game.
The Class D state championship game will be played at 2:45 p.m. Nov. 18 at SUNY Cortland.

 

 

Rowan first NCAA test for Red Dragons

The SUNY Cortland quest for an NCAA Division III field hockey title begins on Saturday.
The Red Dragons will be facing Rowan University from New Jersey on Saturday in a second round_tussle. Game time is 11 a.m. at Ursinus College in_Pennsylvania.
Unbeaten Cortland and Ursinus are two of eight teams receiving byes in the second round of the tournament. After the Cortland (18-0) and Rowan (15-5) meet, Ursinus (17-3) will take on Kenyon (18-5) at 2 p.m.
The winner of those two games meet Sunday at 1 p.m. in the national quarterfinals, with that winner advancing to the Division III ‘Final Four’ being held Nov. 17-18 at William Smith College in Geneva
Rowan advanced with a 2-0 victory over King’s College on Wednesday, as Dianeille Miranda and Rachel Cheafsky scored second half goals. Ohio’s Kenyon was a 1-0 overtime winner over Juniata from Pennsylvania yesterday.
Ninth-year head coach Cynthia Wetmore’s squad, national quarterfinalists each of the last two seasons, will be making their eighth straight appearance at nationals and 22nd overall. Cortland, which posted its first-ever unbeaten regular season, is ranked first in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III poll.
The Red Dragons won their seventh straight SUNY Athletic Conference title with a 5-0 mark, but actually received a “Pool B” independent bid to nationals since the SUNYAC does not have enough teams to qualify for an automatic berth.
Cortland is making its 15th NCAA showing in the last 16 years. The Red Dragons won national titles in 1993, 1994 and 2001 and finished second in 1997. They tied for third in 1999 and 2003, placed third in both 1989 and 1996 and were fourth in 1988.
Cortland has outscored its opponents 67-8 this fall and has posted 13 shutouts.
Sophomore and former Marathon Central goalie Stacy Billings has nine solo shutouts and a 0.47 goals against average in 18 starts. Other leaders defensively include senior Sarah Child, who has three defensive saves, senior Kara Brown and freshman Christine McCabe, the SUNYAC co-Rookie of the Year.
Sophomore forward Kayla Chambers leads the offense with 18 goals and 42 total points. Senior forward Brit Paulus has 13 goals and eight assists for 34 points, while senior midfielder Kelli Johnson has seven goals and a team-high 12 assists for 26 points.
DRAGONS HONORED: For the second straight season, Johnson was chosen the SUNYAC Player of the Year in a vote of league coaches.
In addition, freshman defender McCabe out of Greene is the SUNYAC co-Rookie of the Year while Wetmore has been named the league’s Coach of the Year.
In all, nine Red Dragons were named to the all-league team. Johnson, McCabe, Chambers and junior midfielder Kristin Courtney were first team selections.
Paulus, freshman forward Jackie Plunkett, sophomore midfielder Melissa Smith, senior defender Child and sophomore midfielder Samantha Spehler were named to the all-league second team.
Wetmore earned SUNYAC Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time. She was recognized previously in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Wetmore has an overall record of 138-34 (.802) in her eight-plus seasons with the Red Dragons.