The Ithaca boys and girls lacrosse teams will play for Section 4 championships tonight, with both teams traveling to the Southern Tier for their games.
The Little Red girls will play at Binghamton at 4 p.m. at Binghamton Alumni Stadium, while the IHS boys play Corning in Class A at 6 p.m. at Vestal High School. Both games are part of tripleheaders in which six champions will be crowned, three boys and three girls, ahead of state tournament play next week.
Second-seeded Ithaca (8-8) and Corning are meeting in the Class A boys final for the third time in four years. Ithaca won the previous two title game meetings, part of a run of five consecutive Section 4 titles, but enters this year’s game a decided underdog after losing to the Hawks 11-4 and 10-5 in a two-week span in mid-April.
Ithaca’s top offensive performers are Charlie Estill (42 goals-13 assists) and Zach Johnson (35 goals). The Little Red advanced to the title game with an 8-5 victory against Binghamton in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Top-seeded Corning (12-4) is paced by a trio of talented midfielders in Sam Crusha, Spencer Passmore and Devon Sullivan, as well as senior goalie Nick Nehring, faceoff specialist Chris Caruso and attack Kyle Grimaldi.
Second-seeded Binghamton (4-10) seeks its first Section 4 title since 2010 when it meets the Little Red (6-10), who are the top seed. The two teams are the only ones in Section 4 Class A.
The Patriots are led offensively by attacks Molly Martinichio, the team’s leading scorer, and Katie Gaudet. Midfielder Colleen Holleran has been a key player and defensively Lilly Westbrook has been a vocal leader. Binghamton coach Barb Martinichio believes cohesiveness on offense will be vital in beating Ithaca.
“We have a pretty good defense, I’m happy with them,” Martinichio said. “Our midfield and attackers are communicating better, which is important. We need to do better in transition, so that’s been something we’ve been working on.”
Owego (9-2) has a core of solid seniors in Andrea Zlinsky, Caitlin Watson, Harper Prentiss, and goalie Kayla Harris, but it has been the recent emergence of sophomore attack Bre Howe that has given the Indians another dimension heading into its third meeting with M-E (10-5).
“She’s really taken to playing on attack, she’s really come on strong the last few games,” Westervelt said.
Howe is one of seven sophomores on Owego’s roster, one that also includes a pair of freshmen. It’s youth that Westervelt believes has helped keep his team’s focus.
“They don’t have the mentality that things are going to be easy,” Westervelt said. “They are constantly working. I think that youth is keeping our energy level up.”
M-E’s hopes for a title repeat will likely fall upon junior attack Chelsea Cable (team-leading 42 goals), sophomore goalie Hannah George and veteran seniors Dani Kronk (attack), Kari Lesko (defense) and Jordan Woodsinger (defense).
Coach Lindsay Conroy is hoping for a sharper effort than what her team put together in its two previous contests against Owego, in which her team was outscored by a combined 27-7.
“We have to control the ball better, and we have to watch our turnovers,” Conroy said. “We turned it over too many times against Owego, and against a team like that you can’t do that.”
Vestal (12-3) lost both times it faced Corning (12-5) during the regular season, 14-10 and 9-5, but the Golden Bears enter today’s contest on the heels of an eight-game winning streak during which it scored 15 or more goals each time.
Junior Tomasina Leska, who has verbally committed to Cornell, is among the top offensive threats for Vestal, which won last year’s Class B title with a 16-12 victory against Horseheads.
The Hawks are coming off a 17-8 semifinal victory against Horseheads, one in which Taylor Turner netted six goals for the victors.
Maine-Endwell (14-3) seeks its first Section 4 title when it squares off against Chenango Forks (12-5) in the Class C final.
The Spartans narrowly lost in last year’s Class C final, 11-10 to Johnson City. Maine-Endwell has been stout defensively behind goalie Tyler DeSario and defenders Hunter Hazen and Steven Salvatore — all first-team Section 4 Division II All-Stars — giving up single-digit goals in all but two matches this season.
Forks upended top-seeded Johnso City 15-11 in the semifinals on Tuesday. The Blue Devils are led offensively by attacks Logan Hall and Brandon Dutcher, and midfielders Jack Sherwood and Cody Lamond. Sherwood is the leading scorer.
“We’re going to have to play great team offense against M-E,” Forks coach Dave Pavlich said. “Last time we played them we had a lot of shots but only scored four goals (in an 8-4 loss). It clicked against JC, so hopefully we can keep it going.”
Vestal (14-2) enters the Class B final on a two-game losing streak but is not lacking in confidence after earning a share of the Section 4 Division I title with Corning.
The Golden Bears are led by All-American Pat Carlin and a supporting cast that includes first-team Division I All-Stars Jake Nelson (attack), Eamon Reynolds (defense), and Troy Harding (defensive midfield).
Vestal defeated Horseheads (6-8) twice during the regular season, outscoring the Blue Raiders by an aggregate 30-13.
“I tell them we have to just play our game and do what we do as a team,” Vestal coach Chris Dutkowsky said. “It’s been working out well for us all season long. There aren’t many changes we put into place, maybe a few wrinkles, but it’s cut and dry. We have to execute our game plan.”
Horseheads’ title hopes will fall upon midfielders Ian Cook and Carter McCormick, defender Bailey Bourgeois and goalie Chris Bucciarelli.