The top-ranked Ithaca boys’ soccer team will begin its quest for the first of what it hopes will be several championships this fall when it hosts Oneonta on Saturday in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference semifinal.
Game time at Ithaca’s Moresco Stadium is 1 p.m. The winner will take on either state-ranked Johnson City or Vestal, who square off in Saturday’s other semifinal at 11 a.m. at Vestal’s Dick Hoover Stadium. The final is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday, at the home field of the smaller school.
Ithaca (14-0) has dominated its opposition this season, outscoring its opponents by a margin of 74-2. Senior striker Tristan Cornell-Roberts leads the Little Red with 23 goals, including hat tricks in Ithaca’s final three regular-season games.
The only two goals Ithaca has allowed came in the first half of a 5-2 victory over Elmira on Sept. 23. Since falling behind 2-0 in that game, Ithaca has outscored its opponents, 43-0.
Oneonta is 9-4 this season and is coming off a 4-3 loss to Chenango Forks (6-6) in its regular-season finale on Tuesday.
Ithaca is the two-time defending Section 4 Class AA champion; last year, it advanced to the state semifinals before being ousted by Fairport, 2-1, in Middletown.
“Soccer Saturday” kicks off at noon at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, with the first of four Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship games. The action will start off with the IAC Small School title games; Odessa-Montour will play Marathon in the girls’ final at noon, followed by the boys’ title game between Tioga and Marathon at 2.
The Large School finals will feature Dryden’s girls (13-2-1) and Lansing’s unbeaten boys (13-0-1) both taking on the unbeaten, state-ranked squads from Elmira Notre Dame. The girls’ title game is slated for 4 p.m., followed by the boys’ game at 6.
The Purple Lion girls earned a second straight IAC North Large School title Thursday with a 2-1 victory over Lansing in a tiebreaker game. Tiffany Burgos scored the winning goal with less than 10 minutes to play. Coach Janine Bennett’s squad is led by her daughter, Syracuse-bound senior Taylor Bennett, the program’s career scoring leader and a first-team Class B all-state pick each of the previous two seasons.
Notre Dame will try to win its first conference championship since 2004 after losing in the IAC Large School finals each of the last three seasons. Dryden was a 1-0 winner over Notre Dame in last year’s final, which came two years after the Purple Lions beat Notre Dame by a 2-1 score in the title game. In the 2013 final, Lansing handed the Crusaders a 2-1 loss.
The Crusaders come into the game with a 13-0 record and have yielded just one goal all season. Notre Dame had its first unbeaten and untied regular season since 1996.
Lansing’s boys will face a Notre Dame squad that has had one of the most dominant regular seasons in IAC history this year, outscoring opponents by a 136-3 margin in building a 14-0 record and climbing to No. 3 in the New York State Sportswriters Association Class C rankings. One of the more revealing stats: Crusaders goalies Will Brennan and Declan Sharma have combined for only 10 saves.
But Coach Adam Heck’s Bobcats should be the toughest test to date for the Crusaders, coming in with a No. 5 state ranking in Class C. Lansing’s lone non-victory was a scoreless draw at home with Trumansburg on Sept. 14; the Bobcats posted a 6-0 win in the rematch at T-burg.
Notre Dame beat Trumansburg by a 10-0 score, one of eight games this season in which the Crusaders scored at least 10 goals.
Crusader goals have come from 13 players this season, with Rocco Coulibaly leading the team with 28 goals to go with 15 assists. Other leaders include Connor Bayne — whose brother, Ryan, is a freshman defender at Cornell — with 19 goals and 12 assists, and Alec Cutler with 18 goals and 29 assists.
Notre Dame was a 3-2 winner over Lansing in last year’s IAC Large School final after losing to the Bobcats the previous three years. The Crusaders beat Lansing again in the Section 4 Class C final, 2-0, but the Bobcats ended up advancing to the state tournament after it was discovered one of Notre Dame’s players was ineligible.
The Section 4 tournaments for boys and girls begin next week.