The first few games for most teams tend to provide previews for the kind of season they will have. The men’s soccer team showed signs of being a playoff-worthy contender as they captured the Flower City tournament championship on Sunday. The Yellowjackets finished the two-day tournament with wins over SUNY Oswego, 3-0 in the semifinal game on Saturday. UR claimed the championship with a blowout victory over crosstown rival St. John Fisher, by a score of 7-3.UR looked sharp in their preseason opener. They also out-hustled, outshot and out-passed Oswego. Youth provided the Yellowjackets with plenty of offense. Sophomores Niko Mikolenko and Jeremy Mann combined for UR’s three goals. Mikolenko found the back of the net twice. Shot attempts on goal stuck out in the box score like a nickel in the march of dimes. UR outshot Oswego 21-4, playing on the offensive for most of the game. When Oswego did find scoring opportunities, sophomore Paco Corbalan held tough, making two saves in his first varsity start as goalie.After posting a season-opener shutout, the Yellowjackets faced St. John Fisher for the tournament championship on Sunday. Much like the day before, UR came out firing. Mikolenko added two more goals, increasing his tournament total to four goals and one assist – which earned him the Most Valuable Player award for the tournament. Returning senior and 2004 University Athletic Association Player of the Year, Nate Mickolos added his first two goals of his final season. Joining Mickolos in the scoring category was junior Tyler Green, who scored two. Senior speedster Gary Stom added a spectacular goal that put the game away for good. Stom, Mickolos and Mikolenko each had one assist. The second half of the game came down to team defense. The Cardinals scored early to make it a one-goal game, at 4-3. Within a few minutes, a sense of uneasiness grew among the UR faithful. But that was only for a few minutes, because seniors Jeremy Goico, Colin Fernie and Steve Maltzman got fired up. The trio changed the intensity of the game. Aggressive and smart defense limited the Cardinals’ ball control, allowing the Yellowjackets to plan an attack. Goico aggressively defended, Maltzman out-finessed and Fernie covered sideline to sideline. Using his quick feet and game experience, Maltzman ran circles around the Cardinals, earning him the tournament’s Best Defender award. UR’s defense ignited the quiet offense. The scoring started almost immediately. Stom found his senior teammate Mickolos right in front of the net for a goal.The highlight of the game came off of a free kick. Sophomore Eric Meister found Stom, who then dazzled the crowd with a back-headed shot for a goal.Just over five minutes later, the Yellowjackets scored off an amazing goal that look like his senior class schedule – easy. Filled with confidence, the Yellowjackets cruised the rest of the game to a 7-3 win. With two solid victories under their belts, the Yellowjackets go on the road for four games before returning to Fauver Stadium on Sept. 27. The next home game will be against Roberts Wesleyan at 7 p.m. Hopefully the Yellowjackets’ confidence will follow them throughout New York State for their four-game away stand. Rovinsky can be reached at email@example.com.
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