While most local high school athletes in our area are turning their attention to basketball, wrestling and other winter sports, the autumn lives on for soccer players at Lansing as well as cross country runners at Ithaca High, Trumansburg and elsewhere in Tompkins County.
The Bobcat boys and girls soccer squads are bound for the state regional playoffs. Coach Adam Heck’s sixth-ranked boys’ team (18-1) will take on No. 3 Fabius-Pompey (17-1-1) at 2:15 p.m. at Liverpool High, while Coach Eric Stickel’s top-ranked girls (18-0) will face unranked Beaver River (10-6-3) at 2 p.m. at Norwich High.
For the boys, today’s regional is a rematch of last year’s clash at Norwich, won by the Bobcats, 3-0. Then-junior Alex Schutz had one of the three goals in that one; this year’s team has new leadership, though, with senior striker Jason Yahn providing the bulk of the scoring, supported by junior midfielder Alex Purcell, senior defender Jake Palladino and junior keeper Bryce Stanhope.
Lansing was ranked No. 1 in the state until its 2-1 overtime loss to Trumansburg back on Oct. 9. But the Bobcats returned the favor to the Blue Raiders in the Section 4 Class C semifinals with a 2-0 victory, then beat Marathon 2-1 in the final.
Lansing advanced to the state final four the previous two seasons, both runs ending with 1-0 losses to eventual state champion Port Jefferson. The loss came in the state semis in 2011, and in the state title game a year ago.
Heck, in his 18th year at Lansing, reached the 250-win milestone this season, and has guided the Bobcats to a 59-3 record the past three seasons. He’s 263-73-19 overall (.768 winning pct.) with two state finals appearances (2004, ’12).
Lansing’s girls, under second-year coach Eric Stickel, have been ranked No. 1 in the state since early October, and were dominant in a 5-0 victory over defending champion Unatego in the sectional final on Nov. 1 in Norwich. The Bobcats have shutouts in 13 of their 18 games, and have outscored the opposition 85-5.
Stickel’s Bobcats are led by all-state junior striker Shea McCartney, who scored seven of the team’s 16 goals in the sectional playoffs, including a hat trick in Lansing’s 9-0 opening-round defeat of Candor, and two goals in each of the next two games, including both in a 2-1 semifinals defeat of 14th-ranked Spencer-Van Etten.
Lansing is making its fourth trip to states in the past seven seasons.
Beaver River, a .500 team entering the postseason, has not allowed a goal in its past three games and upset state-ranked Little Falls 1-0 in the Section 3 final a week ago.
The meet of the season in high school cross country is today at Queensbury High, west of Glens Falls. Ithaca High’s boys captured the Section 4 Class A title last week at Chenango Valley State Park, and will vie for a state title.
Ithaca’s boys are led by junior Dan Dracup, who won his second consecutive Class A championship and will be looking to better his state finish of a year ago, when he placed 29th in a 5K time of 16 minutes, 7.4 seconds. He ran as an individual in 2012, and will be joined this year by senior Connor Simpson, juniors Niall Hodges and Eric Sinton, sophomore Hunter Hartshorne and freshman Jake Avery.
In addition, seniors Tyler Sutherland of Trumansburg (Class C), along with Jason Jenks of Groton and Isaac Mazzeo of Spencer-Van Etten (Class D), will compete as individuals following strong performances at sectionals.
Trumansburg’ Sutherland is also making his second straight trip to states, and last year placed 12th in Class C (115th overall) in 16:42.5. Groton’s Jenks also competed last year, taking 39th in Class D (292nd overall) in 17:44.3.
On the girls’ side, Trumansburg won the Class C sectional title and will be competing for a state championship today.
The Blue Raider girls are led by freshman Meave Gurche, who placed fifth at sectionals and was a close second to SC’s Murphy at the Interscholastic Athletic Conference meet a month ago in Groton. Other T-burg runners scheduled to compete are seniors Abby VanSoest and Sophia Melvin, junior Julia Tantillo and sophomores Madisyn Bell and Kristen Whittaker.
Other local individuals slated to compete at Queensbury include junior Lauren Trumble and sophomore Sylvia Frank of Ithaca (Class A), junior Kayla Stewart of Newark Valley (Class C), junior Bethany Murphy of Southern Cayuga (Class D) and the Russell sisters Class D Candor — freshman Julia, who won the Class D title for the second straight year, along with junior Carissa and senior Miranda.
Their older sister, Aubrie, was a three-time top-20 finisher at states for the Indians, including a ninth-place finish in 2011, her senior year. She is now a sophomore at St. Bonaventure.