Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

Ithaca Extends Upstate NY Reign

irish rugby tours

Ithaca Extends Upstate NY Reign

Ithaca president and scrumhalf Rachel Karlins (Photo: Yana Mazurkevich / The Ithacan)

Ithaca College returns to the DII fall Round of 32 as the Upstate New York champion, and runner-up SUNY Geneseo is also making the trip to the post-season. The pair played to an exciting conference finale last weekend, one that wasn’t truly decided until the final minutes of the contest.

“It was a very different game than what we’re used to,” Ithaca College president Rachel Karlins said. “There were 25 mph winds, so it became a pack game. That’s very different for us because a lot of our scoring tends to come from the back line. But this game was all pack.”

Fortunately, the Renegades are blessed with experience, and senior captain and prop Mary Beth Tyson was able to lead an effective forward attack.

Entering the final 10 minutes of the match, only two points separated the teams. Julianne MacDonald and Noelle Carbone accounted for Ithaca’s first two tries, and the captain herself scored to put Ithaca on top 17-10. There was both time and opportunity for Geneseo to answer with its third try on the game, but junior Jacky Reyes disrupted the scoring trend and dotted down the Renegades’ fourth try for the 22-10 win.

“Geneseo is very good competition for us,” Karlins commended. “They’re similar in athleticism and size. They were definitely the best competition we had this season. Other than them, Buffalo State was pretty good, but those games are expected to be tough.”

Although the score might not reflect as much, Ithaca played a tense game against Buffalo in the Saturday semifinal. There were some pre-game distractions – like two kickoff delays that forced Ithaca to run through warm-ups on three occasions – and that affected the first-half fluidity. Buffalo took a 14-7 lead at one point, placing the Renegades in an unfamiliar position – at a deficit.

“They came out strong and knew they had nothing to lose against us,” Karlins said. “They were pumped; we weren’t. But we figured it out in the second half and pulled away.”

Tries from Carbone and Reyes helped Ithaca take a 21-14 lead into the break, and then Katie Conmy and Tyson ran in second-half tries for the 40-19 win.

Ithaca is cautiously optimistic as it eyes the playoffs. For one, Notre Dame College has graduated to DI. The Falcons have eliminated the Renegades at the quarterfinal stage the past two years. But more influentially, the team is sporting a lot of experience in its familiar starting lineup, and the core group of players who have been playing alongside each other these past couple of years are really starting to click.

“This year, we’re very focused,” the scrumhalf said. “We know our strengths and weaknesses, what we need to work on, and we have lots of coaches to help us. We’re pretty confident and hopeful to go farther than we have in the past.”

Ithaca opens up the fall playoffs against the Tri-State #3 team, which will be decided this weekend between Albany and Marist. The Renegades will host that Round of 32 match, while Geneseo will travel to the MARC #2 team (Kutztown or Bloomsburg) on Nov. 14. See the entire DII bracket and who's qualified so far HERE.