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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Breaking down the Bombers

Football

With two games remaining in the season, the football team, standing at 6–2 overall and 3–1 in the Empire 8 conference, needs some help in order to reach the NCAA playoffs.

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Senior quarterback Rob Zappia scrambles upfield in the Bombers’ 30–6 win against Utica College on Saturday at Butterfield Stadium. GRAHAM HEBEL/THE ITHACAN

Ithaca is currently tied with St. John Fisher College for second place in the conference, a half game behind conference leader Alfred University. The Bombers play Alfred on Saturday, and a victory in that game, coupled with a Springfield College victory over Fisher, would give the Bombers a share of the conference title and a shot at the playoffs.

The Empire 8 champion is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. The Blue and Gold, however, do not fare well in the tiebreakers, having already lost to Fisher. If the Bombers and Fisher both win, Fisher will win the conference based on its victory against the Bombers earlier this season.

Senior quarterback Rob Zappia, who leads a Bombers’ offense averaging almost 250 passing yards per game, said while the passing game will be key, it will take a balanced performance from the team to succeed.

“We just have to keep winning,” Zappia said. “We’re focused on what we can control. Alfred is a good football team but we’re playing really well right now and if our defense keeps playing like this we feel like we have a good shot against anyone.”

— Harlan Green-Taub – Staff Writer

Volleyball

The volleyball team pulled out all of the stops at the Empire 8 Crossover in Ben Light Gymnasium on Oct. 22-23 to nab the Empire 8 regular season title.

The South Hill squad finished the regular season with an Empire 8 conference record of 7–1, which includes a victory against three-time defending conference champion Stevens Institute of Technology.

The Blue and Gold have an overall record of 20–14. After winning the Empire 8 regular season title, the South Hill squad gets the privilege to host the Empire 8 Championships on its home court tomorrow as the No. 1 seed. The Bombers have a perfect record of 9–0 at home this season.

With the Empire 8 Championships beginning tomorrow, junior Chelsea Hayes said there’s one other challenge standing in the team’s way.

“The hardest thing we face now is timing,” Hayes said. “The postseason comes really quickly, and it’s a lot of games in a short amount of time. It’s also that time of the year that we start getting tired and overwhelmed, so we really have to buckle down and keep our focus to extend our season as long as possible.”

— Megan Goldschmidt – Staff Writer

Women’s soccer

The women’s soccer team closed out the regular season with a 3–0 victory against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday. The Bombers’ next challenge is the Empire 8 tournament, which will be hosted by top-seeded Nazareth College on Saturday in Rochester, N.Y.

The Bombers will face Stevens Institute of Technology in the semifinal Saturday, and with a win, they will play the winner of the second semifinal between Nazareth and Rochester Institute of Technology on Sunday.

Graduate student and midfielder/defensive back Liz Masucci said the team is focused on what needs to be done to give it the best chance to succeed.

“Right now we’re just sticking to our game plan and getting out the kinks,” Masucci said. “We’re looking to come out there with two wins this weekend and then move on to the NCAA tournament. Right now we just have to take things one game at a time.”

With a 12–3–1 record this season, the squad will look to continue its recent postseason success. The Bombers, ranked 11th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, have made it to the NCAA quarterfinals each of the past three seasons.

— Jesse Cases – Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s cross country

The women’s cross country team has prepared all season long for its next meet — the NCAA Atlantic Region Championship, which will be held Nov. 13 at SUNY-Oneonta.

Ranked fifth in the most recent United States Track & Field and Cross Country Association of America Atlantic Region ranking, the Bombers will be fighting for a spot at the NCAA Championships.

If the Bombers earn a ticket to the NCAAs in Waverly, Iowa, it will be the 11th straight year Head Coach Bill Ware and the Blue and Gold have qualified for nationals.

The squad has overcome injuries, losses and a tough start to the season. After placing sixth at the Oneonta Airfield Invitational in early September, the Bombers have worked back toward the top of the regional standings, placing second at the New York State
Collegiate Track Conference Championship and winning the Empire 8 conference title.

Junior Heidi Baumbach, who has been named Empire 8 Runner of the Week seven times, has led the Bombers all season.

“We just want to keep working hard, trust in our training and not doubt ourselves,” Baumbach said. “We are running for each other now, as a team.”

— Chris Lotsbom – Staff Writer

Men’s cross country

Throughout the season, the men’s cross country team could be described about the same way after every meet. Week after week, the Bombers’ “strong showing” paced them toward their fourth Empire 8 Championship last weekend.

At the conference championships, it was not an opponent who senior captain John Davis had to defeat, but fellow teammate and graduate student Bill Way, as the two crossed the finish line just steps apart.

While several runners experienced individual success, it was the team as a whole that brought the Blue and Gold seven top-10 finishes this year. The great number of accomplishments and running at a high level all season have prepared the Bombers for the NCAA Atlantic Region Championship on Nov. 13 as they will aim to qualify for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 20.

“The team’s mentality, at least to me, it seems to be to just keep on doing what we’re doing,” Way said. “[The NCAA Atlantic Region Championship],  you know with all the pressure, for us it’s still just another race. We’re all just going to go out there and do the best that we can on that day and run as close together as we can.”

— Thomas Eschen – Staff Writer