Elliot Ness and his gang are at it again this year. For head coach Chris Apple, feeling untouchable this season has given his team an edge they haven’t had for a long time in the NCAA Division III ranks.

This is one group of guys whose performance is the quintessence of teamwork, particularly during the last three games when the Yellowjackets challenged their conference foes.

It was the combination of offense and defense that allowed the team to outscore their opponents 11-2 and sweep the three-game stretch bringing their season record to a spotless 12-0.

“Our defensive effort has been outstanding and it really starts with the pressure our forwards have been providing,” Apple said. “They work so hard in the offensive third that opponents don’t have time or space to build against us.”

The Yellowjackets started the three game set at Brandeis University, where they showed the Owls the strength of their offense.

It was a scoring melee identical to the 7-1 blowout against Roberts Weslyan University several weeks ago.

Senior Colin Fernie wasted no time exploiting the Owls’ defensive ineptitude. Senior Nate Micklos started the play with a cross that senior Jeremy Goico headed to Fernie, who put it away to give the Yellowjackets the early lead.

Micklos turned in an impressive performance in the game. He went on to score two goals and tack on another assist before the game finally ended. His pair of goals and assists elevated his career stats to a tie with the University Athletic Association record.

The Yellowjackets were relentless in their scoring chances, rounding off 23 shots on the Owls’ goaltender. Sophomore Nico Mickolenko added insurance to UR’s 3-0 lead at the time with a free kick that struck the back of the net. Sophomore Jeremy Mann buffed the lead with the help of freshman Dominic Pellingra and senior Gary Stom chipped in with another goal.

Freshman Sean Hantes entered the game from the sidelines in the second half to relieve a veteran teammate, and he made his time on the field count with a pass from freshman Mike Harris that capped the team’s goal count at seven.

“That was the best overall team effort that we have put together so far,” Fernie said. “We really made a statement. We got goals from six different guys and completely put the game out of reach.”

After disassembling the Owls’ defense, the Yellowjackets moved on to the next obstacle the No. 15 University of Chicago Maroons weren’t going to be an easy adversary to plow through.

The Maroons struck first, close to the eight minute mark and held the 1-0 lead going into the second half, but that wouldn’t stand for a team that had won 14 straight games starting from last season.

Junior Tyler Green got the Yellowjackets the footing they needed when he caught a cross from Mikolenko.

Regulation time couldn’t determine a victor, sending the game into overtime.

However, the Yellowjackets had no intentions of playing too long, especially Mann, Stom or sophomore Patrick Ripp. Ripp and Stom combined their talent to feed Mann the ball who would net the golden goal and keep UR rolling to 15 straight wins – 11 for this season.

“They were a very good team, but more importantly the game was the first one all season where we were ever down,” Fernie said. “It was good that we were able to overcome adversity and it was great that we could recover from a tough overtime game.”

Defense played an integral part in the Yellowjackets’ victory over the Maroons. Sophomore Paco Corbalan saw some action saving some crucial shots to keep his team in the game.

“Our back line has been very strong,” Apple said. “[Sophomore] Eric Meister organizes well, [sophomore] Bobby Milenovich is developing into an excellent ball winner and the speed and athleticism that [senior] Steve Maltzmann and Mikolenko offer on the flanks makes it tough to break us down. Paco has even matured a ton and is making the critical saves when called upon.”

UR closed out the three-game stretch against Washington University of St. Louis. Defense reigned once again as the Yellowjackets blanked their conference nemesis, 2-0.

Gary Stom scored the game-winning goal midway into the first half off a shot from 15 yards out that nailed the corner post.

Fernie padded the team’s lead with a little help from Stom whose front-flip throw-in bounced perfectly off Fernie’s head and into the net.

Unfortunately, the Yellowjackets won’t get a break from conference play the rest of the season. Their last four scheduled games of the regular season come against conference players. The team, however, will get to enjoy playing three of four under the lights at Fauver Stadium.

The team’s 12-0 record overall and 4-0 record in the UAA puts the team at fifth in the NCAA Division III rankings and at No. 1 in the UAA poll. The team hopes to extend its 16th consecutive victory against SUNY Cortland this Saturday at 7 p.m.

Additional reporting by Mike Rovinsky

Serafini can be reached at jserafin@campustimes.org.



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