One year after coming up a victory short, the Ithaca girls lacrosse team is on its way to the state playoffs.
Kylie Sposito had four goals and Julie Miettunen added three goals and an assist as Ithaca seized control early in the second half on its way to a 12-9 victory over Binghamton in the Section 4 Class A title game Thursday at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.
It’s the first Section 4 title since 2009 for the Little Red (7-10), who will host a state Class A Regional game on May 31 against the Section 3 champion.
In last year’s Section 4 Class A final, Ithaca narrowly lost to Corning, 13-11.
“It feels really good, we worked hard to do this and deserve it,” said Ithaca senior midfielder Molly Long, who had a goal and two assists. “After last year, it was great to come out here and get one.”
Ithaca pulled away from Binghamton with a four-goal run early in the second half after Molly Martinichio scored twice in a two-minute span just after halftime to bring Binghamton (4-11) within 4-2.
Miettunen opened the spurt when she weaved through a trio of Binghamton defenders and snuck a short shot past Patriots goalie Antanaja Moore with 19:16 remaining to put Ithaca ahead.
A short while later, Ithaca score a pair of goals in a span of about 10 seconds, Allie Cornell-Roberts getting the second of those with 16:28 remaining to increase Ithaca’s lead to 7-2. Miettunen then scored again, stealing an errant pass from Moore before firing a shot into the net for a six-goal advantage with 14:56 remaining.
Binghamton would get no closer than four goals the rest of the way.
“I told them I’m very proud of the way they played,” Binghamton coach Barb Martinichio said of a squad that had lost 11 seniors from a year ago. “They had games this year we should have easily won where they didn’t come to play, and some other games that were tough where they stood up well.
“This game I thought they played to the best they could. Ithaca was a good team.”
Binghamton was content in the early going to play a possession game, patiently passing the ball around on the outside for over a minute on several occasions to limit Ithaca’s offensive opportunities.
The strategy yielded a few decent scoring chances, but Ithaca goalie Sam Brown made several nice saves in the game’s opening five minutes.
When Ithaca finally got the chance to get the ball in transition, it capitalized, as Sposito scored off an assist from Long to put the Little Red ahead 1-0 just under eight minutes into play.
Miettunen scored with 10:52 remaining to make it 2-0, then Sposito provided a bit of a cushion when she netted a pair of goals in the final the last 1:19 of the first half to give Ithaca a 4-0 lead heading into halftime.
“We talked on the bus on the way (to the game), and our goal was to get up a lot before halftime,” Sposito said. “It’s been our thing all season where we haven’t been able to step it up until the second half, and we wanted to prove to Binghamton that we can play two halves.”
Ithaca coach Lyn Reitenbach concurred that those two late goals by Sposito were key.
“At 2-0 in lacrosse you aren’t breathing easy,” Reitenbach said. “At 4-0, you’re breathing a little easier. Kylie had a great game, fortunately we were moving the ball, moving the feet and she was the recipient.
“We came in a little flat, we played a lot flat, but we got the job done.”
Brown made five saves for Ithaca, which also got goals from Lauren Duthie, Chelsea McNeal and Katie Carroll.
Colleen Holleran and Lauren McPeek each added a pair of goals and Moore made six saves for Binghamton.