The Ithaca Little Red Girls Lacrosse team found themselves racing through the regular season on their way to a STAC championship, a Section IV title, and a second straight appearance in the regional championship under the leadership of Head Coach BJ Bliss.
The 2019 season, while not culminating in the state championship the team would have preferred, is one campaign that won’t soon be forgotten by the program or local lacrosse fans. The team finished with a 15-3 overall record, going 10-0 in the STAC, and finishing 14-2 in games against opponents from New York.
From the very first game of the season, the Little Red looked like a well-oiled machine that was already in peak playoff form. The opening contest against Seton Catholic saw 10 different Ithaca players score at least one goal and 12 different players record at least one point on the way to a 20-5 trouncing of Seton Catholic. The game also saw the early emergence of sophomore Mackenzie Rich, who netted seven goals in the opener.
The Little Red would go on to win its next four games leading into the team’s annual spring break trip, which consisted of two games against two schools from Maryland. Ithaca would drop the first of the two games, a 15-11 defeat to Mount de Sales, before topping The Academy of the Holy Cross 13-12 to get back to its winning ways.
The day after the spring trip concluded, the Little Red went back to work against rival Corning in what would be the first of three hard-fought meetings. In the pouring rain, Ithaca held off a late second-half Corning surge to win 12-10 over what would be their most challenging opponent in the Section IV title race.
The back-to-back wins would be the beginning of a steamrolling run through the rest of the conference as the team strung together victories in each of their next seven games. One of those games was another two-goal victory, 11-9, over the Corning Hawkes that tested the Little Red a few weeks earlier. Besides the pair of two-goal games against Corning and a four-goal win over non-conference Fairport during the Little Reds nine-game winning streak, the closest encounter was a 14-goal margin in Ithaca’s topping of Horseheads, 22-8.
With a 14-1 record on the season, the Little Red faced the biggest test of the year when it took on Section III powerhouse Baldwinsville, a team that had its eyes on the same postseason goal as Ithaca.
In a game that saw the Little Red commit a number of costly second-half turnovers, Baldwinsville, which was then ranked as the top team in the New York State Sportswriters poll, pulled ahead for a 12-9 victory.
Despite the rocky ending to the regular season, the Little Red pushed on and matched with Corning, for a third time, in the Section IV title game. As before, Ithaca held off a late push to complete the three-game sweep and capture its second straight sectional crown.
Heading back to the regional round, the round that would end the 2018 campaign, the Little Red prepared for redemption against the same Baldwinsville side that dealt the Little Red its only loss against a New York opponent.
The task proved too much for Ithaca, as the program exited the state tournament in the regional round for the second year in a row.
The team’s progress was fueled by the leadership of a five-member senior class of Kelty Goodrow, Julianna Saggese, Kiely Howe, Reed Baker, and Maria Viera, a class that Bliss will certainly miss next season.
The Little Red is in good hands as a great number of underclassmen received valuable minutes in games this season, helping to pave the way for the Little Red to get over the regional hump and onto the prize that has eluded them so far.
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