CORNING - After a successful 8-4-1 regular season campaign the Corning Hawks girls soccer team earned a No. 2 seed in the Section IV Class AA playoffs and will host Ithaca today at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

As a team with only six seniors and multiple underclassmen in key roles, a rebuilding year for the Hawks wasn’t a bold prediction.

The teams’ ability to gel together and grow throughout the season has been a reason for season above expectations and the reason they host a sectional playoff game.

“I don’t think you really have expectations going in, but the beauty of this team is they work hard every day,” Corning head coach Julie Pierce said. “They don’t take constructive criticism personally, so they grow. I can give them criticism and they don’t shrink or get sad and cry, they fix it and own it and they truly enjoy each other.”

Corning jumped out to a 5-1-1 start on the season, lost two in a row, but finished the season 3-1.

“I think we didn’t let our defeats get to us and used them to learn from instead of being down in the dumps about them,” said senior defender Abby Dejneka. “With a younger team, we could have said, ‘oh the season won’t go well’ but we started out with a pretty positive attitude.”

Standing in the Hawks’ way of a trip the sectional finals is third-seeded Ithaca who finished 7-5-2 on the season. The Little Red Captured the sectional title last season and are 1-0-1 against Corning this season.

“They’re well coached, they’re polished, they play well to feet, they do a lot of little things well,” said Pierce of Ithaca. “They play a very nice short game. They’re seasoned.”

While home field is usually an advantage, Ithaca defeated Corning 2-0 in what Pierce called the ‘worst game collectively’.

“As a whole entire unit we were a step behind,” said Pierce. “We didn’t get the ball out of our end very often and still managed to hold them to 2-0.”

In Ithaca, Corning and Ithaca tied 1-1 after being down at halftime.

Ninth-grader Ashlee Volpe is the leading goal-scorer for the Hawks this season and scored the only goal in the two-game series against the Little Red. The team is looking forward to some revenge against the Little Red in their home stadium.

“We lost here last time, so it’s kind of a second chance and that doesn’t happen often,” said senior defender Charlotte Nevins. “So it’s a really good chance for us to capitalize on that.

Top-seeded Elmira (9-3-3) and fourth-seeded Horseheads (6-8) on the other side of the bracket. At 3:30 p.m. today in Elmira.