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March 23, 2013

 

Cold comfort

Top-ranked Red Dragons down Bombers in second OT

Lacrosse

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Doug Meehan swats the ball and stick out of the hands of George Voucas of Ithaca as Mike Warner of Cortland and Matt Greenblatt (right) look on Friday night at the Stadium Complex at SUNY Cortland.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Even in victory, head coach Steve Beville readily admits this about his fortunate and unscathed SUNY Cortland men’s lacrosse squad.
“We’re not there yet,” noted Beville of his unbeaten crew.
Where the Red Dragons are right now, however, is still undefeated six games into the season. That’s thanks to the goal scored by sophomore attackman Zach Hopps with 1:52 left in double overtime for a 9-8 Cortland win that sent Ithaca College home unhappy at the conclusion of Friday night’s Stadium Complex frolic in the snow.
Where the Red Dragons are right now is still No. 1 in Division III, having now narrowly knocked off three consecutive nationally-ranked foes. Two of those crucial early-season wins have been anxious overtime escapes.
Where the Red Dragons are right now is still trying to put some pieces together, yet they have still managed to survive these early-season scares. They pulled out this latest triumph after previously unbeaten and 18th nationally-ranked Ithaca (5-1) jumped out to an early 3-0 first half lead, held a 6-3 third quarter advantage and appeared to have Cortland in some serious trouble.
“They’re finding a way,” said Coach Beville of his players, who beat 10th ranked Stevens Tech 12-11 in overtime and pulled away in the second half to dump 13th ranked Cabrini 10-7 in their previous two outings prior to this renewed upstate rivalry.
“We were really out-played today, in my opinion,” added Beville. “Ithaca had a great game plan and they out-played us and we were really lucky to escape, no doubt. We’ll take them. We’ll take the wins.”
This win came as sophomore midfielder Joe Slavik and sophomore attackman Benjamin Dunlavey scored two goals apiece, Cortland getting goals from seven different players in all. The defense thwarted plenty of Ithaca overtime scoring opportunities, too.
“HATS OFF TO CORTLAND. They’ve been through it,” said Ithaca head coach Jeff Long of his conquerors, who were Division III runners-up last spring. “They’re a championship team and they do find a way to win. We saw it against Stevens last week in Virginia Beach. They have that savvy and swagger about them, so hats off to them. But I thought our kids played hard throughout.”
Ithaca got three goals and two assists from junior attackman Pat Slawta, along with three goals from scoring leader Jake Long. A stellar 16-save showing by from impressive freshman goalie Scott Sidnam out of West Genesee helped the Bombers negate Cortland’s lopsided 45-28 shot advantage, too.
The Bombers also displayed a bit of resolve after falling behind twice in the fourth quarter.
Cortland went ahead for the first time at 7-6 when Patrick Brown scored from close range with 10:23 left to play, capping a run of four unanswered goals scored by the hosts. Ithaca pulled even just over a minute later, Long coming off the sidelines on the run after a successful clear and rifling a shot past Cortland goalie Mike Kaminski.
Cortland regain the lead at 8-7 when Dunlavey took advantage of a botched Ithaca clear to race in alone on Sidnam with 4:58 left to play, only to have Ithaca’s Andrew Bruce work his way front of the crease and equalize matters 50 seconds later.
Both teams had chances at the end of regulation and overtime.In the final minute of regulation, Sidnam came up with a long Slavik shot. Ithaca had two chances in the the waning moments, the best another Bruce chance that was off-target.
BOTH SIDES SQUANDERED opening possessions in each four-minute overtime session with turnovers. In the second OT, Ithaca’s Matt Greenblatt won the game’s final faceoff — giving the visitors an 11-10 edge in that department — only to have Cortland senior defender C.J. Nye forced a turnover with 3:15 left to play.
Moments later Hopps was behind the Ithaca goal, and when his defender slipped on the snow-covered surface merged to beat Sidnam with a high shot. It was his eighth tally of the season.
“It’s going to end eventually,and they took advantage of our kid slipping and finished it.. and we didn’t. That’s how it all played out,” said Ithaca’s Long.
He was far from disappointed with his team responded to its most difficult test of the season — especially early when Slawta scored the opening three goals to put Ithaca in position for an upset.
“We’re still finding out our personality,” noted Long. “I don’t feel that dejected. Obviously, we would have liked to have come away with a ‘W’ that’s for sure, but there are more positives coming out of this than negatives for sure.”
Cortland’s best work came later, including that four-goal surge started in the third quarter when defenseman Brian Winterfeldt scored after legging the ball downfield on a clear to trim Ithaca’s lead to 6-4.
Midfielder Mike Cantelli scored two minutes into the fourth quarter, Slavik and Brown scored 11 seconds apart and the Red Dragons finally had a lead to work with.
“WE’RE STILL FINDING some things,” said Coach Beville, whose team also got a goal from midfielder Matt Rakoczy and a team-high four caused turnovers from defenseman Craig Sullivan. “Our youth on attack is showing up daily. We certainly need to get better there. We’re not where we want to be really in any facet at this point. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
Hopefully, that progress will continue as fourth-ranked RIT shows up in Cortland this coming Wednesday at 4 p.m.

 

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