As usual, the Ithaca High soccer teams – both of them – have taken care of business to the point where they will both play in the Sectionals. While the boys won the STAC title and the girls fell short of that goal, both teams have a clean slate heading into the postseason.
The boys’ team won an overtime thriller in the STAC championship game, beating Oneonta 1-zip on a Flynn McCarthy goal, and will move on to host Corning on Oct. 30. If they win that game, they will move on to play in the Sectional final on Nov. 1. In the words of Maureen Whitehead, the head coach of the Little Red girls’ team, “To their credit, the boys seem to come up big in important games.”
Speaking of the girls’ team, Whitehead said, “We are still overcoming some big losses in terms of players that have moved on, and the team has been a bit naïve and inconsistent, but we’re having a lot of fun seeing how far we can push our season.”
Whitehead’s team will take the pitch against Corning on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and the two teams know one another well. In the two games this season, Ithaca beat Corning on their home field, and tied them at home. Ironically, Corning has a higher seed in the Sectional tournament, but that matters little given Ithaca knows they can beat them if they play their best game. “When we play Corning,” Whitehead offered, “it’s anybody’s game and for me, those are the best games.” She added, “It depends on who is feeling it on that night.” Like their counterparts, the girls will move on to the Sectional final on Friday should they win.
When asked to share a little about this year’s team, Maureen said that the squad gets a lot of effort and production from many different players, there are two seniors who have provided solid leadership. She offered, “Those two seniors are Beth Duncan and Mae Conuel. They have been a consistent backbone for us.”
Kudos to Cornell senior Jelani Taylor on being named the winner of the Richie Moran Award at the Hall of Fame Dinner earlier this month.
Cornell alum Jay Spiegel initiated the Richie Moran Award in early 1989. According to Cornellbigred.com, Spiegel's idea was “to honor a scholar-athlete who also exhibited the type of Ivy League spirit Cornellians seek to emulate — that of not only excellence in scholarship and athletics, but also in service to the community.”
Taylor embodies all the award represents, as he is a 3-year starter as a safety for the Big Red. Entering last weekend, he had 143 tackles on the season, including 4.5 for a loss and 2.0 sacks, 22 pass breakups, a pair of forced fumbles and an interception in 32 games.
He is also a star in the classroom, maintaining a 3.94 GPA while tutoring many other students, and his recognition extends far beyond the Cornell campus, as he is a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, given to the top football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.
I’d like to send out additional congrats to Robert Brehm and the rest of the TC3 cross-country team on the completion of their first season as a team. Success is measure in many ways, and for Brehm, being named All-Conference is one of the most tangible. The Groton alum finished in sixth place at the Mid State Athletic Conference Championships, earning him that honor, and the team finished in fifth place (higher than two other schools).
Another way to define success is by looking at improvement, and the Panthers measure up in that regard as well. The conference championship was held at Finger Lakes Community College, and the Panthers ran their first-ever race there. Four TC3 runners ran faster times than they did in their season-opener, led by Brehm, who shaved 1 minute and 15 seconds off his previous time, finishing in 31:12.