November 10 , 2006


QB Shea gets Cortaca Jug start for Dragons


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNYCortland senior Bryan Shea will make his first start at quarterback Saturday against Ithaca in the Cortaca Jug game.

Sports Editor

There were a couple of things SUNY Cortland head football coach Dan MacNeill was not too eager to discuss this week.
The first was whether he had any tickets available for Saturday’s sold out Cortaca Jug game, which kept his telephone ringing throughout the week.
The second was the quarterback situation heading into this crucial contest, his Red Dragons (8-1) playing host to rival Ithaca College (7-2) at noon on Saturday where a crowd of 9,500 is expected at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
In a successful season that saw third-year starting signal caller Alex Smith sidelined with a knee injury that required surgery, that saw back-up Ray Miles knocked out of last Saturday’s loss to Rowan with a broken thumb on his throwing hand, the lingering question was who would take snaps against the Bombers.
The mid-week decision made by MacNeill was for senior Bryan Shea to be in the starting line-up, with freshman Sean Pratt available if needed. Both played during the emotional 14-7 overtime loss at Rowan last week, a setback that makes beating Ithaca a must for Cortland’s NCAA Division III post-season aspirations.
Cortland could have secured an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament by beating Rowan and finishing alone atop the New Jersey Athletic Conference standings. Now, if Rowan defeats visiting William Paterson tonight it will share first place with Cortland for the second straight season. The Profs will then receive the automatic NCAA berth on the strength of last week’s victory over the Red Dragons.
Ironically, Ithaca also comes into the game off a loss. Alfred rallied for a 28-17 home field win that knocked the Bombers out of contention for an Empire 8 regular season title. So the Bombers need a victory to be considered for an NCAA ‘at-large’ playoff berth.
MacNeill will not be placing a big burden on the quarterback’s shoulders going up against Ithaca.
“You still need defense, special teams and a good running game,” said MacNeill. “I can tell you our special teams have been great this season. I think our defense is one of the best in the nation and our running game is staunch. That’s going to be a big help to whichever quarterback takes the snaps.”
Tailback Matt Rickert shrugs off the thought of having a new starting quarterback puts more of a burden on the broad shoulders of the 5-10, 210-pound senior captain.
“Whoever is the quarterback, we still have the utmost confidence in him to do the things and make the plays the same way we had confidence in Alex Smith,” said Rickert. “I always pride myself on being ready to play. I always try to have a big game every time out.”
Rickert rushed for 65 yards on 11 carries against a Rowan defense that led the nation against the run, and has faith in a physical offensive line featuring senior center Dan DiFalco, guards Steven Longinott and James Mignone and veteran tackles Matt Ciquera and Davie Holleran. “They take care of me and keep me healthy,” he says of his blocking buddies.
THE RED DRAGON defense is eager to take on this challenge.
“That’s what we love about the game. That’s why we come to play football every day, to feel the pressure like that,” says inside senior linebacker Matt Montpetit. “We play off the pressure. We’re going to come together this week and say, ‘Let’s put the game on our backs and take care of business.’”
“As a defense, we love to have pressure on us,” echoed senior defensive end Rich Coyne. “We always have the challenge of being one of the best defenses in the nation. Definitely, the defense will step up.”
Sophomore Dan Juvan has been productive in his first season as Ithaca’s starting quarterback, throwing for 1,737 yards and a dozen touchdowns. He has completed 63 perfect of his passes, with tight end Mike Oertel_(35 catches) and Kelly Gordon (26 catches) his favorite targets.
Rugged running back Jamie Donovan has 700 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, and will be a test for the Red Dragons.
“They’re balanced,” said Ithaca coach Mike Welch of the Red Dragon defense that has allowed just 83 yards rushing and 212 total yards per game. “They have a great front seven, a great safety and their cornerbacks are solid. They’ve very balanced with few weaknesses. We like our offense, too, and it’s going to be quite a match-up.”
Linebacker Bill Hauser has 56 tackles, linebacker Dave D’Aurelio 53 tackles and All-America tackle Adam Haas 51 tackles for the Red Dragons. Haas has 14 tackles go for loss yardage, and is tied with defensive end Rich DeJesus for the team lead in quarterback sacks with seven apiece.
The safety Welch mentioned — senior Stef Sair — is the school all-time leader in interceptions. Sair returned an interception for a touchdown and picked off an overtime pass that finished off a dramatic 37-30 Cortland victory in Ithaca last year before 10,800 fans.
SAIR HAS ALSO excelled returning punts, almost single-handedly leading a victory over The College of New Jersey with over 100 yards of returns.
And in last week’s tough loss at Rowan, Cortland senior punter Jimmy Cunneen was selected as the NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week. He averaged 38.6 yards per boot, including getting off punts covering 60 and 52 yards. Three of his kicks pinned the Profs inside their own 20-yard line.
Ithaca also has special team standouts in kick returner Gordon and place kicker Brett Kitenplon. Gordon is ranked second nationally with a 16.4 punt return average, while Kitenplon is Ithaca’s all-time scoring leader with 273 points. The nine field goals Kitenplon as connected on this season tied a school record.
The Bombers also have tenacious defense that plans to spoil Shea’s day. Junior strong safety Ryan Terlicki leads the team with 73 tackles, while inside sophomore linebacker Mike Scalice has been in on 59 stops — 15 for loss yardage.
Whether Cortland can bounce back from the Rowan disappointment — linebacker Montpetit calling the Sunday “Reflection Day” as the Red Dragons pondered the season’s first setback — is a question mark heading into the Cortaca Jug game, too.
“Those are the losses that are hard to take, but it shows you what kind of character your team has and this team has a lot of character,” says MacNeill.
“We’re more of a team than any I’ve ever been a part of,” says Montpetit of this year’s Red Dragons. “We have been through so much this year, we just know what has to be done Saturday.”




Dragons advance to semis

HOBOKEN, N.J. — Just when it looked like this NCAA Division III tournament volleyball experience was going to be a brief one, SUNY Cortland battled back Thursday.
The Red Dragons recovered from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Skidmore in five games in the opening round of regional play hosted by Stevens Tech.
The third-seeded Red Dragons (29-12) won 30-32, 28-30, 30-13, 30-26, 15-8 and will face second-seeded Stevens Tech in the semifinals tonight at 7 p.m.
Skidmore, seeded sixth, finishes the year with a 23-13 record.
Stevens Tech sweep past Baptist Bible College 30-23, 30-18, 30-19 in its first round match.
The other semifinal starts at 4:30 p.m., with top seed NYU taking on fifth seed Washington & Lee from Virginia. NYU beat Hunter College 30-18, 30-26, 30-11 yesterday, while Washington & Lee eliminated Vassar 30-19, 30-18, 29-32, 30-14.
Junior Kelsey Muka out of Lansing led Cortland with a season-high 24 kills and also recorded 13 digs. Freshman Michelle Gaufman added 15 kills and 13 digs and sophomore Brittney Horton added 40 assists and eight digs.
Horton’s 1,550 assists this season are a new school record, eclipsing the previous single-season mark of 1,549 set by Adriane Battaglioli in 1997.
Senior Daina Marsh and sophomore Tiffany Chatman each finished with nine kills. Chatman also had eight blocks and Marsh finished with seven blocks. Junior Alice Kahrs contributed seven kills and seven blocks.
Cortland registered 17 blocks as a team compared to seven for the Thoroughbreds.
Darryl Manzer led Skidmore with 24 kills and a .452 attack percentage and Laura Olstad distributed 52 assists and had 10 digs.
The first game featured 14 ties, the last at 30-30 on a Marsh kill, before Skidmore scored the final two points. In the second game, Cortland trailed 24-17 before going on an 11-1 run, including three Muka kills and two Theresa Cole aces, to take a 28-25 lead.
Skidmore, however, rattled off the final five points on three Cortland misplays and two Erica Duncan service aces.
Cortland made quick work of the third game. The Red Dragons used an 11-0 run to turn a 3-2 lead into a 14-2 margin and led by at least nine the rest of the way.
Skidmore led 6-5 early in the fourth game, but the Red Dragons scored five straight points, including two Muka kills. The Thoroughbreds got back to within 14-13, but gave back three points in a row on errors and never got closer than three points the rest of the way.
In the fifth game, a Chatman block and a Muka kill helped stake the Red Dragons to a 4-1 lead. Leading 5-4, Cortland went on a decisive 5-0 run thanks to a Chatman kill, a Lindsay Snow ace, a block by Marsh and Kahrs, a Gaufman kill and a Kahrs solo block.
Skidmore scored to stop the run, but the Red Dragons answered with kills by Gaufman, Muka and Marsh to take a 13-5 lead. Marsh’s kill put Cortland up 14-7, and a Muka kill two points later finished the match.
THE UNBEATEN and No. 1 nationally-ranked Cortland field hockey team is in NCAA Division III regional play this weekend at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania.
The Red Dragons (18-0) will face Rowan (15-5) at 11 a.m. on Saturday, looking to advance into Sunday’s 1 p.m. regional final. Ursinus and Kenyon meet in the other semifinal Saturday.
The weekend winner advances to the Final Four, being held Nov. 17-18 at William Smith in Geneva.



Locals run after state meet medals


There will be a smaller local contingent traveling to the New York State Public High School Cross Country Championships at Sanford Elementary School in Warwick, Long Island Saturday.
The Section 4 Class D champion Marathon Central boys are state meet bound. The Olympians will be joined  on Long Island by Cortland High senior Margaret Knight, along with the Moravia Central sophomore duo of Jason Phillips and Alicia McLaughlin.
Opening ceremonies get things underway at 9:15 a.m.
Purple Tigers senior Knight qualified for the state meet for the third year in a row by taking third in last Friday’s Section 3 Class B meet in 20:12.9. She was 31st in the state Class B meet in 2004 with a time of 20:30, and 14th in last fall’s Class A meet in 19:08.4 after winning the Class A sectional race in 19:59.
“Being in the state meet for the third year in a row will be a psychological advantage for Margaret,” Purple Tigers coach Bob Vidulich said. “Not only is it another impressive feat for her, but for the second year in a row she has been named to the All-CNY team as a result of having one of the top times among finishers in all four sectional races.
“That’s amazing because we’re talking about kids from Fayetteville-Manlius and West Genesee, and runners like Leah Andrianos from East Syracuse-Minoa,” he added. Andrianos was undefeated last season until Knight beat her by_10 seconds at sectionals. “They’re signing with Division I colleges, and Margaret is in their category. She’s being recruited by Division I colleges as well.”
As for the 2006 season, Coach Vidulich offers these thoughts.
“This has been a good season for Margaret. She’s reached the level of performance now that really turning it up a notch is that much more difficult. We’re looking at 13th or 14th at states again this year.”
MARATHON BOYS are led by senior standout Erik Van Ingen. He is participating in his fifth state meet and should medal again for the fourth consecutive year. His best finish in the state meet is third place.
Van Ingen is currently ranked third in Class D and 15th overall in the state merge of all classes. He is an IAC and Section 4 all-star and plans on running at the Division I level in college.
Senior Mike Doane, senior Adam Cross and eight-grader Pieter Van Ingen make up the Olympians two, three and four-man positions. The order seems to change from week to week.
Cross is in his second year of cross country and has been racing well as of late. Doane is coming off an impressive finish from sectionals and ran on the Olympians’ State Meet team in 2004.
The younger Van Ingen is in his first year of varsity cross country, but has provided several strong performances this season. “Pieter seems to run well under pressure situations and could provide some additional support this weekend,” reports coach Todd James.
The strong running of this pack has a large impact on the Olympians advancing to the state meet and another strong performance is essential for the team to be competitive this weekend.
Senior David Carlone, senior Justin Morehouse and junior Cody Gaylord make up the fifth, sixth and seventh positions.  Carlone’s strong performance over the last 800 meters at the sectional race was instrumental to the Olympians securing a one-point victory of Delhi.
“Morehouse and Carlone seem to race well together and the two runners will have to push each other over the second half of the race,” said James. “This is both boys first season running cross country. Gaylord ran in the 2004 state meet and his experience may be vital to the success of Morehouse and Carlone. Gaylord has a good sense of pace and could challenge for the fifth-man scoring position. Gaylord did miss a portion of the mid-season and seems to be healthy and well rested as we approach the state meet.”
MORAVIA SOPHOMORE McLaughlin qualified for her first trip to the State Meet by finishing in 10th place, fifth among the non-winning team runners, in the Section 4 Class D race at Chenango Valley State Park November 2. Alicia improved upon her 2005 race time by 3:40.
“Alicia has really improved from 2005 to this year,” says Moravia coach Jan Hunsinger. “We knew going into the race that she was ‘on the bubble’ as far as going to the State Meet, and that she needed to run her best race of the season. She passed two runners in the last 200 yards and is now going to states. We are setting the goal of a top_50 finish.”
Phillips is making his second trip to the State Meet, having finished 22nd in the Class D race_in 2005.
Some of Phillips’ performances this year include winning the C/D race at the Auburn Invitational, finishing second at the Weedsport Invitational, and finishing fifth in the unseeded race at the McQuaid Invitational. Phillips also earned First-Team IAC All-Star honors this year by finishing fifth at the IAC Championships. 
“Jason has had an outstanding year,” said Hunsinger. “Jason’s goal is to finish in the top 20 at states this year,” said Hunsinger.