Ithaca High girls lacrosse coach Lyn Reitenbach can guarantee one thing regarding her team’s 3 p.m. Saturday clash with powerhouse West Genesee in the quarterfinals of the state Class A tournament: Her team will be there.
“We’re really pleased that we were able to win Section 4,” she said, “and on the any-team, any-day philosophy, we’re going to go in there and give them everything we’ve got and be happy with the outcome, whatever it is.”
The competitive Reitenbach, who walked on at Cornell and played varsity lacrosse for four years in the 1980s, is tempering her expectations with the reality that the Wildcats (17-1), ranked third in the state and winners of 10 in a row, are in a different league from her Little Red (7-10), which will play host to Saturday’s state quarterfinals tripleheader at Bredbenner Field.
The action is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. with the Class B game featuring Section 4 champion Vestal (12-3) and Section 3’s Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy (16-3). That will be followed at 1 p.m. by the Class C regional between Owego (10-2) and third-ranked Skaneateles (18-1), with the West Genesee-Ithaca game to follow.
CBA, ranked ninth in the state, advanced with a 20-4 victory over Massena on Wednesday evening at Liverpool High; Skaneateles, No. 2 in Class C, earned the regional berth with a 22-2 shellacking of Potsdam, also Wednesday at Liverpool.
West Genesee earned its berth in the quarterfinals by defeating fifth-ranked Cicero-North Syracuse, 17-6, in the Section 3 Class A title game on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome. SUNY Cortland-bound senior Hannah Elmer, daughter of Wildcats coach Bob Elmer, led her team with seven goals and two assists, while classmate Riley Donahue — headed to Syracuse, where her father Kevin (assistant coach) and brother Dylan (junior attack) are key cogs in the Orange men’s team — chipped in three goals and four assists.
West Genny, which has won seven of the past eight Section 3 championships and has won three state titles over that span, avenged a 7-6 loss to the NorthStars in last year’s Section 3 final. It is that kind of championship pedigree that has Reitenbach taking a realist’s approach.
“We have a few talented seniors, and a base of sophomores and juniors who have a good work ethic and love the game,” she said. “Unfortunately, as we segue into Saturday’s game, I have nowhere near the program that they have at West Genny, where the dedication and athleticism of the kids is unparelleled.”
She illustrated what she and Ithaca, which won its first sectional title since 2009, is up against as she looked back upon her early coaching days at IHS.
“In 1996, I was coaching modified and we went up there to play (West Genesee) and they had 100 kids trying out for their modified program,” Reitenbach said. “They play in one of the hardest sections in the country, so the combination of a large number of kids competing for a small number of spots, and then those kids get to play tough competition week-in and week-out, you end up with a pretty polished product at the end.
“We have really well-rounded, awesome, great kids,” she added, “who choose to play lacrosse for three months in the year.”
Hannah Elmer leads the Wildcats in scoring with 48 goals and 34 assists, while midfielder Donahue has 34 goals and 30 assists and is the Wildcats’ main draw-taker.
“Donahue just tore it up (against C-NS),” Reitenbach said. “She dominates the draw, she’s a lefty like her brother and she’s really talented. They’re top-to-bottom strong, and if someone turns an ankle, there’s somebody just as strong to step in.
“Hannah (Elmer) is a fine player,” Reitenbach added, “and she’ll have a great career at Cortland playing for my former Cornell teammate (Red Dragons head coach Kathy Milmoe Taylor).”
Ithaca is led by senior Molly Long, sophomore Kylie Sposito — who had four goals in Ithaca’s 12-9 Section 4 title-game win over Binghamton — and sophomore Julie Miettunen, along with freshman goalie Sam Brown. Reitenbach said she purposely booked tough out-of-conference games (“That’s the only thing I know how to do, play good teams to get better,” she said) and her team has about met her expectations this spring.
“I was hoping to pick up a couple of nonleague wins,” she said, “but we definitely packed the schedule with five really challenging nonleague games.”
Ithaca’s non-Section 4 losses came to Canandaigua, Pittsford (No. 7 in Class A), Penn Yan (No. 12 in Class C), Webster Schroeder and South Jefferson (No. 7 in Class C). Pittsford is the only common opponent of IHS and West Genesee; the Little Red lost to the Panthers, 14-4, while the Wildcats beat them 8-6 in one of only two games in which WG did not score in double-figures.
Vestal is coming off a 10-8 victory over Corning last week in the Section 4 Class B final. Freshman goalie Nicole Leska made 10 saves in the victory over the Hawks, who beat the Golden Bears twice during the regular season. Corning beat Ithaca in last year’s Class A sectional final.
Owego earned its states trip by beating Maine-Endwell, 11-1, in the Class C sectional title game. Andrea Zlinsky and Jenna Harris had three goals apiece for the Indians against the Spartans, who beat Owego 14-13 in last year’s sectional final.