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Ithaca boys soccer team advances to state tournament

Ithaca High School’s boys soccer team poses after their 2-0 victory over Corning, advancing to regionals for the third straight season.
By Faith Maciolek, John Stanley and Ian Stone

The Ithaca High School boys soccer team advanced to the Class AA New York State Regional Tournament for the third consecutive year with a 2-0 win over Corning on Saturday in Oneonta.

Ithaca now has a 17-0-0 record this season, outscoring their opponents 89-2 in those games. The only two goals they allowed came in a 5-2 win against Elmira on Sept. 23. The team is ranked No. 1 in the state, second in the region, and ninth in the nation among high school soccer teams. Head coach Gilbert Antoine said this is exciting, but the team knows how to focus on the field.

“I think this is the first time Ithaca High School has been ranked up on three different aspects: state, regional and national,” he said. “This is a great feeling for the boys. But we don’t focus on that much. We focus on what we should be doing to beat each team.”

Senior Andrew Araneo said mindset is a big part of the team’s success. He said the boys go into every game thinking any team can beat them and they need to play their hardest “no matter who the opponent is.”

Senior striker Tristan Cornell Roberts has been on the team for three years and will be heading to the regional tournament for the third year in a row. He said that he and his teammates are a tight-knit group.

“Most of us, a lot of the seniors, have been playing together since elementary school,” he said. “And a lot of the younger kids we’ve been playing with the last few years.”

Araneo said between club sports and off-season play, the team has found a good balance between work and play.

“We know when the time is to get business done, but we also know when to have fun,” he said. “Everyone on the team is super close from playing in the off-season for years and years, and [it’s] definitely a great group of guys.”

Ithaca’s home field is covered in turf, while Bettiol Field is grass. Players said this slowed down their passing and quick play, and took a little time to figure out.

The Ithaca Little Red scored just 2 goals, uncharacteristically low for them, especially following their hot play as of late.

Their play may have been slowed by the time it took the boys to adjust to the field.

“We were just getting used to the grass,” Cornell Roberts said. “It took a few minutes to get rolling.”

The team will play on this same field Wednesday at 1 p.m. against Monroe-Woodbury High School in the first round of the New York State Class AA state tournament. Ithaca will represent Section 4, while Monroe-Woodbury will play for Section 9.  Since there are nine sections that make up New York State in Class AA soccer, a “play-in” game is in order. This year, it was decided Section 4 versus Section 9 would be that first-round matchup.

When asked if the team would be more so ready for this contest than in years prior, Araneo said, “I don’t know if we’ll feel any better prepared but definitely more motivated. We’re going to try our hardest.”

Last year, Ithaca won its first game of the state tournament in the quarterfinals, beating John Jay-East Fishkill 2 to 0. Their run ended when Fairport outscored them 2 to 1 in the semifinals.

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