It was a show of force that Secretary of State Colin Powell and President George W. Bush could be proud of. Ithaca started the game with an assault of twelve consecutive bombs that were deadly accurate before RIT even thought of mounting a counter attack. With 8:00 to go in only the second quarter Ithaca had a debilitating 12-0 lead on the RIT Tigers en route to a 20-10 victory. With the win the Ithaca Bombers wrapped up the Empire 8 automatic qualifier and will have to wait until tomorrow to find out who they'll play in the tournament.
Last week Ithaca defeated Nazareth in a staunch defensive battle show casing their team defense' ability to shut down an offense. Today they put on an offensive clinic to blow out another worthy opponent. The ability to be versatile bodes well for this Ithaca team heading into the tournament. The start of todays festivities may have been perfect if it hadn't been for the audio system blowing out. Everyone on hand was getting pumped up to the sound of tunes such as the theme to Brave Heart, which should be on every teams warm-up tape, but 15 minutes before game time the amp blew. RIT was so late to take the field for a 1:00 pm start that they didn't even get to enjoy it at all. Why the Tigers took the field ten minutes before game time is a mystery(poor reporting on my part. I should of asked someone), but it showed in the early going. Perhaps they were warming up somewhere else, going over last minute game strategies, or the bus was late. Whatever the reason, RIT took their warm-up in the fist twenty minutes of the game and it wasn't pretty.
Before the game Head Coach Gene Peluso told his players that it was alright to be nervous. "I know your nervous...but if your nervous and pushing yourselves as hard as you can that's good...go out there and play hard and have fun." Easier said then done, the RIT Tigers came out more like a turtle on it's back and by the time they righted themselves, it was too late.
Coach Jeff Long of the Bombers told us that he wanted his team to concentrate on close defense just like they did against Nazareth and that the other focus was on possessing the ball. He couldn't of predicted his team's start, but even after a 12-2 lead at the half he didn't feel comfortable. "I wasn't at all comfortable with a ten goal lead because they are very capable of coming back. They did it against Nazareth." As far as the play-offs are concerned Long claimed that he feels his team needs to work on every aspect of their game going into the play-offs (stock answer). He said,"We're still very capable of having very good days and not so good days." He also told us that his players are all healthy save a few bumps and bruises here and there.
Ithaca set the tone immediately when they won the face off and attackman Brian will set up fellow attackman Sam Griffo for a shot right on top of the crease, but RIT goalie Chris James made a great left foot kick save. It would be one of the few times James got the better of the battle with Griffo who ended up with five goals on the day. Griffo is division III's answer to Hopkins' Bobby Benson. Griffo puts himself in great position to score at all times and possesses the nose for loose balls on the crease. His uppercut crank shot that comes from a foot off the ground and ends up somewhere underneath the crossbar is loaded and released quickly. At 12:08 Griffo drew first blood. After a loose ball scramble in front of the net he got the ground ball 8 yards out to the goalie's left. he took a step away from the goal and traffic and ripped an underhand shot that beat James waist high, 1-0. At 11:10 Bomber midfielder Dennis Juleff back in 14 yards out to goalie's right. He turned inside and cranked a shot which James blocked, but the rebound was scooped up by Griffo who threw one fake and dunked it high, 2-0. Griffo's third goal is why he's so damn good. He caught a feed from Jeff Welch as he was cutting across the top of the box to his left. On the run he ripped off a lefty (so called weak hand) crank that beat the goalie from about 13 yards out, 3-0. At 9:25 Brian Weil put in Ithaca's fourth goal before long stick wing man Tim Riley scooped up the face-off and ran d down to score the fifth unmolested, 5-0. After it was 6-0 RIT won the face-off and made a couple of runs at the goal before close defensman Jeffrey Tousant got called for a hold. With the extra man, Josh Molinari tried to sneak around the crease from X to his right. He barely made it around before the defense collapsed, but he was able to try and bury it high. Ithaca goalie Ryan Martin stuffed the high attempt and sent long stick Ryan Orser to the races. The pole ran the length of the field and just as he neared scoring distance the slide came from Juleff standing on the doorstep to the goalie's left. One fake and a bounce shot wrapped around the goalie along the left pipe made it 7-0. At this point everybody wanted a time-out and thankfully coach Peluso took one for RIT.
After the time out, the Tigers won the face, but Ithaca's defense rebuffed them. Finally, for what seemed like the first time RIT's defense was able to hold Ithaca on their next trip down field. Ithaca continued to score at will and the game spiraled out of control. With every goal the Bombers players visibly loosened up and were running on air. RIT players however, seemed to struggle with passing, catching or even just keeping up physically. It was painful to watch, but eventually the Tiger's did settle down. With 8:00 to go in the first half, Morris Jemal curled from behind man-up to score lefty and make it 12-0, but that was Ithaca's last goal of the half. Josh Molinari put RIT on the board at the 5:06 mark. Working from the wing he inside rolled Tousant to get position and got a shot off from about ten yards out to Martin's right while falling, 12-1.Then with 2:04 left, Chris Vallone drove from X to hes left. When he was stood up by his defender he retreated and turned back to feed Dave Griffin who was cutting toward him on the same side and scored a righty quick stick, 12-2. Those two goals were monumental for morale, but the hole they dug was too deep.
RIT started the second half strong tallying 3 more unanswered goals to make it 12-5. Ithaca got the next two and they traded goals for the remainder of the game. It seems pointless to give the blow by blow for the second half since the final was 20-10.
|Sam Griffo||(5, 2)|
|Jeff Welch||(3, 1)|
|Brian Weil||(4, 0)|
|Nick Mayer||(2, 1)|
|Morris Jemal||(2, 0)|
|Scott Guerra||(1, 1)|
|Tim Riley||(1, 0)|
|Matt Casey||(0, 1)|
|Dennis Juleff||(1, 0)|
|Josh Marksberry||(1, 0)|
|Ryan Martin||14 (0.583)|