Once, Twice, Three Times a Champion

By Patrick Bohn ’05, November 7, 2022
Trio of Bomber teams clinch Liberty League Championships.

It was a great weekend to be a Bomber, as three Ithaca College teams won their first-ever Liberty League Championships. For each squad, their most recent previous championship had come when the college was a member of the Empire 8 conference.

This past Saturday, the 25th-ranked volleyball team rallied against Clarkson University, coming back from a two-sets-to-one deficit to punch their ticket to the NCAA Championships, where they will take on Alfred State University at Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania.

The Bombers’ last conference championship came in 2016.

“This team is never out - there's always a solution and they play for each other,” said head coach Johan Dulfer. “All year long we've given to the process and to see it pay off today is just so gratifying. I'm so happy for the team that they get to experience the fruits of their sacrifices. To say that we're proud of them is the understatement of the year.”

That same day, the 12th-ranked football team captured their first conference championship since 2014 with a 31-28 win over Union College. Like the volleyball team, the football team used a late rally to secure the win after trailing 21-14 at the half. The win improved Ithaca to 9-0 for the first time since 1986.

By virtue of the Liberty League title, the Bombers have automatically qualified for the NCAA playoffs. Playoff pairings will be announced on Sunday, November 13.

“This team has worked so hard for this championship, particularly the seniors and fifth-year players who have been so resilient in their quest to capture this moment,” said head coach Michael Toerper. “Their belief and confidence in themselves and each other that was built through countless training sessions and practices ultimately is the reason we got it done. Now let’s see how far we can go while we continue to enjoy the journey.”

The Bombers have one regular season game remaining: a historic Cortaca Jug matchup at Yankee Stadium on November 12. Cortland also enters the game with a 9-0 record.

Tickets for the game can be purchased here.

Sunday capped off a weekend of wins when the women’s soccer team pulled off a historic upset, securing their conference title and automatic NCAA bid by beating 6th-ranked William Smith, prevailing 5-3 on penalty kicks after neither team scored during regulation and overtime.

The loss avenged an early-season loss to William Smith and the Bombers’ first conference title in 15 years was secured when goaltender Grace Hickey ’25 stopped a shootout attempt and all five Bombers converted their attempts.

The Bombers will take on Capital University in their first-round game.

“We are so proud of our Liberty League championship teams this fall,” said Susan Bassett ’79, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports. “Football, women’s soccer, and volleyball have all worked so hard to achieve these goals and have been so close since we joined the Liberty League. I’m thrilled that all the work put in from our coaches and student-athletes has led to these amazing accomplishments, and they all get to celebrate their first-ever Liberty League titles. I can’t wait to see how they perform in the upcoming NCAA Division III Championships.”