It’s been a sweet November for the women’s soccer team and it got even sweeter when the Yellowjackets earned a spot in the NCAA Sweet 16 tournament from their pair of victories this past weekend.
They earned a ticket to the tournament after defeating Case Western Reserve University 1-0 on Nov. 5. The Yellowjackets’ first scheduled match was this past Saturday against William Smith College.
The Yellowjackets and William Smith remained scoreless through the first half and well into the beginning of the second. Yet, junior Emily Urbancyzk finally found the team’s window of opportunity with the help of junior Mary Walsh.
Walsh made a sharp cross from the right side that allowed Urbancyzk to slip the ball past the oncoming William Smith goaltender, giving UR the 1-0 lead.
Defense for the Yellowjackets continued doing what it has always succeeded at – protecting small leads. The team defense held William Smith to four shots on goal during the entire second half, forcing their opponent’s offense to dump the ball and lose control of the game.
The Yellowjackets are probably playing with one of the best defenses in the entire league, which has overshadowed the quality of their offense. While the team enjoys close victories, head coach Terry Gurnett is not concerned by the team’s possible weakness.
“We’re relatively weak offensively, based on the fact that we’re strong defensively,” Gurnett said. “We defend hard with a talented back line. More importantly, don’t enter a game with the mindset that we’re going to defend only. We defend all over the field and attack all over the field. The fact that we defend well keeps us in the game.”
UR’s victory advanced them into the next round of the tournament where they would challenge Union College for a spot in the Sweet 16 tournament.
Defense continued to flex its muscle, shutting down Union College. However, Union was able to counter with its own talent, forcing UR into a penalty shootout after 90 minutes of regulation time and two 15-minute periods of overtime, which couldn’t determine a victor.
Sophomore Ashley VanVechten took the first of five shots for the Yellowjackets. She scored, putting her team up by one. Union’s Ashley Brown followed up VanVechten’s goal with her own to even the score at one.
In the second round, Walsh stepped forward for the Yellowjackets and netted the team’s second goal. Union was unable to match UR and after two rounds the Yellowjackets were up 2-1.
In the third round, junior Anne McMahon took to the line for UR and scored the team’s third goal. Union countered with its own to keep UR’s lead in check.
In the fourth round, senior Kristen Leskow sealed Union’s fate and sent UR into the Sweet 16 tournament with a goal making UR’s record 4-2 in the best of five rounds.
Serafini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.