According to Ithaca High girls lacrosse coach Lyn Reitenbach, winning can be learned.
Her team is building and learning new habits, especially after a 13-12 overtime loss to open the year to defending Section 4 Class B champion Vestal. Ithaca led by two with two minutes left in regulation in that game. The Little Red (7-3) will see if it has learned anything when it hosts the Golden Bears (9-2) at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
“I really think this group of kids was not used to winning,” said Reitenbach, who returned to the team this season after a three-year absence. “When we found ourselves about to beat Vestal, I think they actually spooked themselves a little bit. Winning is a habit and we are getting back into the habit.”
Led by a five-member senior class, the Little Red is building a new tradition and laying a foundation.
“It was our first time in an actual close game,” said senior attacker Lindsay Biondi, one of three team captains along with senior Grace Boyce and junior Molly Long. “Last year, we were kind of used to getting pummeled. It was our first overtime loss and we weren’t used to that style very much, like the hectic one-goal game. It’s a crazy style, having it come down to one goal.
“We are really not used to it, but we’ve learned about composure at the end. We are taking baby steps. We are learning who to pass the ball to, how close defense has to be, and things like that.”
“It really taught us that we can compete this year and that we are a different team than we have been in the past,” Boyce said. “That’s pretty different for us. I’ve been on varsity for four years and I don’t ever remember competing with Vestal. We’ve always lost to them in a blowout. This year, we kind of surprised ourselves.”
Vestal is a smaller, quicker team, according to Biondi and Reitenbach, so Ithaca must be ready to slow down the Golden Bears’ transition game. Ithaca counters with one of the most dangerous attack units in the area. Biondi (University of Maryland) and Boyce (Campbell University) are both Division I-bound players.
More than anything, the captains from IHS said they are excited to show the rest of Section 4 that they are back.
“I am so excited, because I think we can show how we’ve become so much better over the season and kick Vestal’s butts,” said Long with a huge smile. “We deserve this win through our hard work we’ve been going through. We just deserve to beat them, because it was such a hard loss by one. I am ready to just go out there and kill them.”