Another successful men’s soccer season came to an end with a 5-2 loss to the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
“Stevens is a really good team, and there is no shame in losing to a really good team,” Head Coach Chris Apple said.
Freshman forward Terrance Johnson led Stevens with two goals and an assist as the undefeated Ducks came out strong on their home turf in Staten Island, scoring all five goals in the first 34 minutes.
“We were pretty stunned at those five goals; we’ve never faced anything like that,” junior Nick Mikolenko said. “When we came out in the second half, we just wanted to win the half and not quit.”
During halftime, the team talked about calming down and regrouping. “We had nothing to lose,” Apple said. “The guys could have rolled over and the score could have been 10-0, but they didn’t, and they played really hard.”
A new team took the field in the second half, playing a strong defensive game and setting up many scoring opportunities. In the 70th minute of play, junior Patrick Ripp landed a penalty kick in the box for senior Tyler Green to head over the Steven’s goalie senior Chris Calentano and across the goal line.
Feeding off of that excitement, the Yellowjackets moved the ball around more, keeping the pressure on Calentano. In the 83rd minute of the game, Ripp had another chance to land the ball in the box and set up a scoring opportunity. Off of Ripp’s powerful free kick, Mikolenko found the back of the net, making the score 5-2, where it would end despite the powerful offensive pressure led by senior Neil Osuch.
Finishing the season with a 9-6-3 record, Apple calls this team the most resilient he has ever coached. “At the end of the game the guys could feel good about how they played, not that it’s easy to lose, but we can end the season really proud,” Apple said.
Their win against Hamilton College, which gave them a berth to the Stevens game, was only the second playoff win in Rochester history, and the first since 1986. Furthermore, the hardship that the team faced in the form of injury and illness made each win even more impressive.
“We earned everything this year, and we fought until the end,” Apple said. “This was a heck of a season.”
Graduating only four players, the men are excited to continue their strong play next season. “Not many people thought we could do anything this year because so many guys graduated last year,” Mikolenko said. “I think we’re going to be really good next year.”
Paret is a member of the class of 2008.