banner

 

November 9, 2007

 

Cortaca Jug has extra incentive

Cortland and Ithaca have post-season playoff hopes

Cortaca

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland quarterback Ray Miles (13) has passed for 1,796 yeards and 18 touchdowns heading into Saturday’s Cortaca Jug game at Ithaca College.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

With his enduring smile, Ithaca College head coach Mike Welch pointed out a basic fact earlier this week.
Along with all of the things that go into making the Cortaca Jug football game a special occasion, having an extra incentive makes the confrontation that much better.
And this match-up sending an ambitious 7-2 SUNY Cortland squad up against a surging 7-2 Ithaca College outfit Saturday will have a playoff feel to it without a doubt. That’s because only the winner will have a chance to catch the attention of the NCAA Division III football committee who will be selecting at-large playoff teams on Sunday.
So both proud schools will be playing in hopes of extending their seasons when the 49th edition of the Cortaca Jug kicks off Saturday at noon before some 10,000 fans at Butterfield Field in Ithaca. Tickets have been sold-out, though Time Warner will be televising the game live in both cities. Channel 6 will be were the game can be seen on Cortland televisions. The game can also be heard on Homer’s WXHC radio, 101.5 FM on the old dial, where Bobby Comstock and Bruce Eves call the action.
Of course, Cortland knows the NCAA is not always paying attention. After beating Ithaca 23-20 in overtime a year ago, the Red Dragons were not selected for the playoffs despite a 9-1 record.
Cortland has won six of its last seven games. And the Red Dragons have captured four of the last five Cortaca Jugs, too, including consecutive overtime escapes over the Bombers.
Ithaca is riding a five-game winning streak into the game, rebounding from a frustrating 2-2 start that included back-to-back losses to nationally ranked St. John Fisher and Hartwick College.
So there’s no reason not to expect another close game, considering eight of the last 10 contests have been decided by a touchdown or less. Also expect the unexpected when emotions run high, with so much on the line.
“We know it’s going to be a battle and you have to be prepared for anything in this game,” says Welch. He has been a part of the Cortaca Jug as a player and a coach at Ithaca, as has his counterpart and Cortland head coach Dan MacNeill.
This ‘Route 13 Rivalry’ just continues to flourish from the brainstorm of two team captains from 1959 — Tom Decker of Cortland and Dick Carmean of Ithaca. “They had no vision of how big this thing is getting,” said Welch.
Though the schools have been playing since 1930, in the battle for possession of the Cortaca Jug the Bombers have a 31-17 edge. And there are now two jugs being played for, the game having outgrown the original jug that ran out of room for the scores to be painted upon its’ sides.
TRADITION IS WHAT also makes this game special. Or as Ithaca college captain ands senior safety Ryan Terlecki said addressing the media earlier this week: “We not only play to honor our team, coaches and community, but the players who came before us.”
The crazed atmosphere — which brings out the annual warnings about fan behavior and misconduct — is what also makes this game stand out.
“I’ve played in a couple of big games in high school, but nothing of this caliber,” says Red Dragon fullback and team captain Mike Sveda.
Having grown up locally, senior defensive end and Groton High graduate Brad Robison is passionate trying to put a finger on what the Cortaca Jug is all about.
“It’s hard to describe. You walk onto the field and you have so many emotions running through you and then you hear the crowd and, it’s just so hard to describe,” said team captain Robison.
“You hear the crowd and you feel they’re all there just for you, and that everything on this day is dedicated to you,” he continued. “Once you get that first hit, whether you’re getting hit or you’re the one delivering the hit, then it’s just football. But even then, you’re emotions are running on high the whole time and the crowd is up for the entire game. There’s hatred for the other team, just because you want to win so badly. Once the game is over, you have the utmost respect for each other. That’s why after the game you see the players still walking around on the field, telling each other what a good game it was.”
Robison is also well aware of the tradition Cortland and Ithaca will be carrying onward.
“To play for past players, to be able to represent those people, is amazing,” he says. “When I look back it’s great to be able to say I was a part of this. Being a local kid, everyone around here knows all about this game and it’s great to be a part if it.”
CORTLAND PREVAILED last season on a Matthew Mintz overtime field goal, in a 23-20 game where fourth string quarterback Sean Pratt was called upon to come to the rescue.
Junior Ray Miles has been the starting quarterback since taking over in the first half of the season opening win over Morrisville, when senior and team captain Alex Smith was lost for the season to an injury.
Miles has responded by throwing for 1,796 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Wide receivers Keith Greene and Eric Hajnos have been his favorite targets, with team high 29 and 27 receptions respectively.
Where the Red Dragons have woes this season heading into the Ithaca game is at tailback. Senior Dustin Bowser will probably not play after suffering a foot injury, and junior team rushing leader Andrew Giuliano may see action despite coming off a shoulder injury. Freshman third stringer Cory Russell is also nursing an ankle injury.
There was some good news in the injury department, however, as starting safeties Ricky Case and Matt Berman returned to practice after having suffered shoulder injuries. “It’s a boost of confidence for the entire team, you can feel it,” said Coach MacNeill of having those players back, Case the team leader with five interceptions.
Three linebackers — freshman Brian Haas (79 tackles), senior Kyle Pierce (60) and junior Jim Smith (60) — head up the defense. Defensive end Ben Nagle has been in on 56 stops, including a team-high five sacks.
The defense will have its hands full with a balanced Ithaca offense coming off a 42-24 win over Alfred, the Saxons of former Cortland coach Dave Murray having come into that game in first place in the Empire 8 League standings. The Bombers have scored 34, 35, 44, 48 and 42 points in their five straight wins.
“WE”VE BEEN PRETTY balanced both running and passing the ball, so we just take what the defense is giving us,” says Ithaca senior running back Alex Baez. “We’re scoring points, but we expect to score more points.”
Baez and Donovan both rushed for over 100 yards in the win over the Saxons, while quarterback Dan Juvan completed 13-of-24 passes for 298 yards in that victory.
In his second season as the starting quarterback, junior Juvan has thrown for 1,997 yards and 20 touchdowns. Brian Hogan has eight touchdown receptions, with 38 catches for 659 yards for the season.
The sturdy Donovan became the school’s all-time rushing leader with 3,693 yards for his career, and leads the Bombers with 954 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
More importantly, IC responded after those two early setbacks and has gotten better every week. “That’s what you hope happens, and this team has such good character and leadership,” says Welch.
“It’s everyone playing well at the same time. It’s coming through as a team, playing team ball,” says Baez.

 

 

Dragons sweep, Naz comes next

HOBOKEN, N.J. — After breezing to victory to get the NCAA Division III volleyball tournament underway, SUNY Cortland must take on a familiar nemesis.
The Red Dragons swept past Russell Sage 30-16, 30-12, 30-19 in the opening round Thursday to get this eight-team regional hosted by Stevens Tech underway. Sophomore Michelle Gaufman had 13 kills and Kelsey Muka 11 kills to lead the attack.
Now the second seed Red Dragons (32-10) will meet third seed Nazareth College (27-11) for the fourth time this season in a second round game slated for a 4:30 p.m. start this afternoon.
The Golden Flyers, out of the Rochester suburb of Pittsford, have won two of the three matches played against Cortland this season. Nazareth advanced beating Montclair State 30-19, 30-24, 30-23 in the opening round.
Top seed Stevens Tech (33-4) and fourth seed Skidmore (30-9) are the other teams moving on, and will play at 7 p.m. tonight. Friday’s winners will meet Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the regional final.
Stevens Tech was a 30-22, 30-25, 30-14 winner over Bridgewater State on Thursday, while Skidmore disposed of Hunter College 30-16, 30-21, 30-15.
Cortland 3, Russell Sage 0: Muka finished the match with a .786 attack percentage, recording no errors along with her 11 kills in just 14 attempts. The Lansing native also had 11 digs defensively.
Junior Brittney Horton dished out 41 assists, junior Tiffany Chatman totaled nine kills and four blocks and senior Alice Kahrs finished with six kills and a team-high six blocks for the Red Dragons.
Cortland, making its 21st NCAA tournament showing, enjoyed a .446 team attack percentage in the match. They had 46 kills and just nine errors in 83 attempts.
Catelyn Samoranski led Russell Sage (18-17) with 11 kills and Nicole Corbett added nine kills. The Skyline Conference champion Gators were making their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Nazareth 3, Montclair State 0: led the Golden Flyers with 11 kills, while setter Kate Zwicki had 28 assists. Anna Chesnakova had 11 kills for Montclair State (22-13).
Skidmore 3, Hunter 0: Twenty kills and four service aces by Erica Duncan helped carry Skidmore past Hunter (23-12). Becca Ormsby post a match-high 36 assists running the Skidmore offense.
Stevens Tech 3, Bridgewater State 0: Melanie Volk had 13 kills and three blocks for top-seeded Stevens Tech, ranked 22nd in the country. Kelsey Collasius had 11 kills for Bridgewater State (17-19).

 

 

Olympians will face rival much too soon

There are some things that are just not right. To borrow a line from an old Jim Croce song, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.”
New York State officials should not have the teams that split the last six Class C Field Hockey titles playing each other in a regional game.
Marathon Central girls are looking to repeat as state champions and Section 5 powerhouse East Rochester is looking to reclaim the crown it held for two consecutive years before the Olympians reclaimed the title in 2006. In fact, since 2001, these two teams are the only Class C state titleholders. Marathon won in 2001, 2002 and 2003 with East Rochester the champion in 2004 and 2005.
This scenario that unfolds Saturday at 1 p.m. on the SUNY Oneonta carpet has been brought about when state officials revamped the playoff structure. The first change was to finally get Sections 6 and Section 5 to have a play-in game to regional quarterfinals. In doing that, those same officials must have decided to make every other section happy by pitting the two dominant sections in Class C against each other as early as possible.
The Olympians have played the Bombers in the finals once (2006) or semifinals (several times).
While Marathon (19-1 overall) claimed the Section 4 Class C crown last Friday with a 3-1 win over Harpursville, East Rochester finally advanced to the regional showdown Thursday with a 4-0 win over Section 6 champion Holland. Tiffany Raskopf recorded a hat trick to lead the Bombers (18-0-2) to the victory. Taryn Schawillie opened the scoring for the Bombers with a goal in the first half, assisted by Jessica Otis. Schawillie leads Section 5 with 35 goals this season. The score was 2-0 at halftime.
Other Section 5-6 play-in winners were Pittsford-Sutherland (Section 5) over Iroquois 1-0 in Class B and Williamsville North (Section 6) blanked Penfield 3-0 in Class A. Pittsford-Sutherland will meet Section 4 champion Maine-Endwell at 3 p.m. at SUNY Oneonta Saturday while Williamsville North meets Section 4 champion Greene at 5 p.m. to close out the tripleheader.
MARATHON BOYS will also return to action Saturday as the Olympians travel to Chittenango High School for a 6 p.m. NYSPHSAA Class C Regional soccer showdown with Section 3 champion Faith Heritage (16-2-1).