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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
Sometimes it’s easy to look at a score, and not really realize the significance of the result.

On Friday night the final score read Notre Dame 2, Elmira 1.

Many might have looked and saw two good teams playing a close game.

However, there’s more to it than that. Elmira is one of the biggest schools in the state, a Class AA STAC School.

Notre Dame is one of the state’s smaller schools, a smaller IAC school.

“I think it was really special to have won on Friday night,” Notre Dame standout Leila Vargas said. “Especially for being such a small school going against such a big school. It was super rewarding to have played our hearts out and be able to keep up with the bigger school.

“They have some really good, tough players and it was awesome to see our younger players match up with them.”

The Express have one of the top players in Section 4 in Emily Hanrahan and Elmira has a number of veteran players on the roster.

The Crusaders showed that in their second year under coach Joe Picco they can compete with anyone in the section.

The Crusaders return a lot from last year’s team that went 7-1, with their only loss coming to a Waverly team that was led by Picco’s daughter Gabby, a freshman at LaSale this year.  Notre Dame would have played for the IAC title last year, but the game against Dryden was canceled over Covid concerns.

For Notre Dame’s players the victory was special, but they have big goals this year and hope this is just the start of what they will accomplish.

“We are going to work and push harder because this is just the beginning of the season and we are going to have more tough games,” Vargas said. “Like Elmira, I’m really excited to see where the season takes More Dame and I wish good luck for Elmira as well.”

The loss to Notre Dame made the Express wait one extra game to celebrate the long-time success of coach Zach Sarno.

On Monday the Express picked up a 2-0 road win at Ithaca. For Sarno the victory was the 150th coaching victory in his career.

Sarno has coached 15 seasons overall with Elmira and it was five years ago that he won his 100th game as a head coach.

The Express have been the definition of consistency under Sarno, winning eight straight STAC West titles before last season’s fall season was canceled and there was no full season in the Spring.

Elmira has another big game today when they host Horseheads.

Defenders rarely get a chance to stand in the spotlight.

But, in a win over Maine-Endwell last week the Hawks’ Gillian Mason stole the show.

A dominant force all night on defense, Mason scored the only goal of the game on a 30-yard free kick to give the Hawks the win.

The Hawks defense has been stout all season, allowing just one goal in three games, and Mason has been a huge part of that.

It’s a phrase that seems to be said every single meet.

‘Corning sophomore Angie McKane sets another record.’

On Tuesday the Hawks star added even more to her magical season when she broke the school record in the 200 free and she broke the pool record in the 50 free as the leadoff leg of the 200 free relay.

The 200 free record had stood 20 years and the 50 free record was the oldest one on the board, staying up there since 1982.

McKane has yet to be beat in an individual race this year, and she’s set records in multiple different meets this year.

A season ago Covid cost swimmers a chance at states, but McKane had a top time in the state during the regular season.

There is dominance, and then there is what the Corning cross country teams have done so far this season.

Running at the Red Jacket Invite, a meet with over 150 runners in the field, the Corning boys had 7 of the top 11 finishers, while the girls had five of the top 10.

Both teams had the top two finishers in the race, and both teams topped the field by more than 60 points.

To understand just how dominant the Hawks are, look at the JV results. Corning put runners on JV that would start on varsity for most teams in the state and the boys and girls JV teams each won the title and each went 1-4 in their races.

It’s not just Corning’s runners who are finding success.

Notre Dame’s team is low on numbers, but high on success this year.

Junior Piper Young has yet to be beat in a race for the Crusaders, and Derek Simpson has only been outside the top three in a race once.

On Tuesday the girls went 1-2-3 in a quad meet with Newark Valley, Dryden and Edison.

Speaking of Edison, the girls took first in the quad meet and second at the Crusader Clash over the weekend. A balanced team has helped make the Spartans tough to beat.

The Horseheads and Corning volleyball teams both had big tests on Tuesday, and both came out on top.

With Horseheads at Vestal and Corning at Maine-Endwell, both teams found themselves trailing in their matches, and both ultimately came out on top.

The Blue Raiders and Hawks each won five-set matches, showing their resiliency as they battled back.

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