A three-goal effort by senior Alex Varkatzas helped lead the Elmira boys soccer team to a 4-3 comeback victory over Ithaca on Friday in a match for control of the Southern Tier Athletic Conference West Division at Marty Harrigan field.
Elmira overcame a three-goal, first-half deficit with three second-half strikes. The first came 53 seconds apart before the 30-minute mark to tie it at 3.
The Express (7-3, 4-1) continued to pressure the Little Red with several more opportunities. Varkatzas scored the winner at 23:34 after taking control of the ball in front of the last Ithaca defender and shooting it past goalie Geoffrey Twardokus into the lower right corner of the net.
“We came out flying in the second half,” Varkatzas said. “It was a pivotal win in the division.”
The victory solidified Elmira’s lead over Ithaca (4-4-1), which has lost two straight after a three-game win streak. Elmira beat Ithaca, 3-2, on the road earlier this month.
“That’s a huge win for us,” said Elmira coach Derek Hamilton. “We have struggled to find consistency, but today was one of our more well-played games.”
Luc Sinon put Ithaca up 1-0 at the 32:05 mark. Amir Omar and Nick Gualtieri scored off free kicks for a 3-0 lead 17 minutes into the match.
“We made some alarming mistakes and dug ourselves a hole,” Hamilton said.
Varkatzas converted on a penalty kick at the 20:32 mark and Ithaca led 3-1 at the half.
“We got the break with the penalty kick and the momentum swung,” Hamilton said.
“We controlled the tempo of the game in the second half.”
Varkatzas made it 3-2 on a direct kick that deflected off a defenders foot and into the upper right corner of the net at 31:34.
Sophomore Eli Harperin tied it 53 seconds later, finiding the top right corner on a long angle kick.
Eric Berglund made seven saves for Elmira; Twardokus finished with four stops for Ithaca, which hosts Corning at 7 p.m. Monday at Moresco Stadium.
* McQuaid Invitational: In Rochester Saturday, the Ithaca High girls and boys both had top-15 finishes in the Class AAA seeded race at the 48th annual McQuaid Invitational.
The girls finished 10th, led by sophomore Lauren Trumble’s 13th-place individual finish, while the boys — featuring a freshman, three sophomores and a senior — took 15th, led by sophomore Dan Dracup, who placed ninth.
Groton’s boys placed 14th out of 29 teams in the boys’ Unseeded Varsity A-3 race, led by top-20 finishes from both Theo Moore and Jason Jenks. Groton’s girls fielded an incomplete team, and were led by Allison Cronk’s 25th-place finish.
Trumansburg was also at the meet, and its girls took sixth out of 35 teams in the Unseeded Varsity A-2 race, led by Kristen Whittaker (47th) and Abby VanSoest (49th). The boys finished 11th out of 23 teams in their race, led by Tyler Sutherland (10th) and Cal Randle (27th).
* Ithaca 105, Corning 76: Little Red swimmers won 10 of 12 events on Friday to post an easy STAC victory. Hannah Bollinger won the 50 and 100 freestyles, and Annali Vernon won the 200 IM and 100 backstroke to lead Ithaca, which travels to Vestal on Thursday.