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soccer_schusteriac120In 2010, Trumansburg denied the Lansing boys’ soccer team from an appearance in the IAC Large School championship game by defeating the Bobcats in a heartbreaking play in game after the rivals finished tied atop the leader board.  In 2011, the Bobcats made sure they would be playing under the lights on the 3rd Saturday in October by running the regular season table with a 15-0 record, and a #1 state ranking.

Facing a determined and aggressive squad from Southern Division champions, Elmira Notre Dame, the Bobcats were given a stern and physical test before bettering their opponents for a 1-0 victory, and earning their first IAC Title since 2009. In front of a large and excited crowd at Ithaca High School, both teams came out determined to put their stamp on the game, and although the first half finished scoreless, Lansing certainly got the better of play with several outstanding scoring chances.

Only some outstanding play by the END keeper kept the sheet clean for the first half, as the Bobcats pressured the END defense early and often with penetrating runs and forward pressure.  Just 5’ in, sophomore Benji Geisler was denied an early goal scoring chance when END’s keeper came out sliding and making a goal saving tackle. Lansing also had several dangerous crosses played into END’s 6-yard box, but no Bobcat could quite get on the end to finish. Defensively, the Lansing back line stood tall in denying the Crusaders any clean offensive looks, cleaning up loose balls and quick counter attacks with confidence and cohesion, and preventing any solid challenges on their senior keeper, Benji Parkes.

soccer_kutleriac2Junior striker Ethan Kutler plays a short pass to a Bobcat teammate during their 1-0 IAC Championship victory over Elmira Notre Dame. Shown at top, Senior winger Taylor Schuster looks to attack the flanks of Elmira Notre Dame in the 2011 IAC Large School Championship game on Saturday night.

soccer_mcintoshiac2Junior striker Nathaniel McIntosh readies to unload a long range shot that clanged off the cross bar in the waning moments of the Bobcats’ victory at Ithaca High School.

At the half, Lansing Coach Adam Heck was pleased with the lads’ overall play, and implored them to keep pressuring the Notre Dame fullbacks and moving the ball around quickly, and that something good would happen if they did. “We are good, I like how we are playing, now it’s a matter of who is going to finish their chances and who’s going to stay composed in defending that determines the winner tonight”, Heck stated. Sticking with their ball possession and quick strike style, the Bobcats did just that in the 2nd half, coming out aggressively and confident and looking to put the Crusaders away.

Following a Notre Dame foul about half way through the 2nd frame, junior striker and tri-captain Ethan Kutler made Notre Dame pay by drilling a direct kick from about 25 yards out. Earlier, Kutler took a free kick from the same spot and in trying to beat the Notre Dame keeper to the left post, was denied. This time, Kutler decided to try the right post, and find it he did—drilling a hard, low shot just over the wall and surprising Notre Dame’s keeper in finding the right back corner with the game winner. From there, it was up to the Bobcat defense to hold their slim margin and the stout and tireless play of Lansing’s midfield of senior Sean Streb, junior Cobi Byrne and Geisler were up to the challenge. Working seamlessly with their back line, Lansing’s midfield defense prevented Notre Dame from mounting any offensive flow through the middle, but on the few occasions Notre Dame found space, Lansing’s defensive trio of juniors Timmy Arleo and Spencer Warkentin and sophomore Jake Palladino were quick to snuff out any legitimate scoring threats.

soccer_byrneiac2Junior midfielder Cobi Byrne launches a long range shot on the Crusaders net in the first half.

Coach Heck was quick to praise the Crusaders for their play, and to thank them as well.

“We haven’t been challenged like that much this season, so it was a great game for us to get ready for Sectional play, and I thought END played us pretty well”.

On his own team’s play, Heck was excited with the energy and grit his young team displayed, “Our guys played great tonight, every single one of them, including the guys off the bench”, “they were composed and physical, and they played together.”

For the night, Lansing outshot END 14-1, but it was the Crusader keeper who kept the game close, coming up with 8 saves, many of them goal saving and of the spectacular variety, including 3 point blank saves on onrushing Bobcat players.

After receiving the number seed in Section IV, the Bobcats will return to play tomorrow night against the winner of a first round match between Unetego and Delhi. Although it will be a home game, the exact location and game time have not yet been determined.

Photos courtesy of Richard Warkenton

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