The UR men’s soccer team, fresh off an emotional victory over Rochester Institute of Technology and boasting a four-game win streak, hosted three tough University Athletic Association rivals these past two weekends, including two teams ranked in the top 10 in Division III.
Last Saturday, it was ninth-ranked New York University. The Violets entered the game as an impressive team, posting an 8-1-1 record and holding a 507-minute shutout streak – the second longest in their school’s history. None of that seemed to bother UR, however, who was able to hold on to a one-goal lead and come out on top.
The game came down to the ‘Jackets’ ability to take advantage of opportunities and solid defensive efforts on both sides of the ball. A third of the way into the first half, a thunderstorm delayed the game for 40 minutes. Upon returning to the field, UR pounced on an opportunity. Gaining control in the backfield, senior defender Nick Mikolenko sent the ball into NYU’s half.
It looked like the ball was going to be controlled by Violet goalie Chris Wright, but he misjudged it, allowing sophomore forward Scott Cady to run onto the ball and put it in the back of the net for the ‘Jackets. The goal was Cady’s second of the season and ended NYU’s shutout streak at 524:06.
The remainder of play highlighted both teams’ exceptional defense and their respective toughness. The teams combined for just 12 shots and seven corners in an aggressive and physically played 90 minutes. Yellowjacket sophomore goalie Michael Peacock was solid in goal, posting his second shutout of the season with two saves. Wright also had two saves for the Violets.
This past weekend, the ‘Jackets took on Carnegie Mellon University and 10th-ranked Emory University. Against Carnegie, it was an impressive counterattack and strong goaltending by Peacock in the second half that allowed UR to prevail 2-0. Sophomore forward J.J. Dennstedt assisted on both UR goals, each of which came midway through the second half.
“The Carnegie match was very even and the game really hinged on a critical moment in the second half,” head coach Chris Apple said, very pleased with his team’s performance.
That critical moment came with just under 20 minutes left in the game, when a CMU shot was deflected by Peacock and cleared out of the UR zone by ‘Jackets’ junior midfielder Dominic Pellingra. Seconds later, Dennstedt had the ball and passed it ahead for junior forward Sean Hantes, who put the ball past CMU goalie Matthew Bazin into the right corner of the net.
Just over a minute later, it was Dennstedt again laying the ball in for freshman midfielder Steve Welles. Welles dodged a defender in the corner of the Carnegie box and then blasted the ball into the lower right hand corner of the net, giving the Yellowjackets their 2-0 lead.
UR was able to prevail despite being outshot by Carnegie 11-8. Peacock had five saves in goal, while Hantes led the offense with four shots.
Capping off the long week of UAA competition was the Senior Day Sunday afternoon game against Emory. The Eagles came into the game 12-1-0 (3-0 UAA), with its only loss coming to a Division II school.
They had knocked off a seventh-ranked Case Western University team 2-1 earlier that weekend and sat atop the UAA along with the ‘Jackets.
Again, this game was an exhibit of strong defensive play. Regulation time was a scoreless battle of equally-matched teams.
Peacock was once more a wall in the net, tallying two saves for the game.
It was the third consecutive game in which UR didn’t allow a goal.
In overtime, UR had a number of scoring chances. With 6:09 left in the first extra period, a corner kick by Mikolenko was headed just wide of the net by junior midfielder Dominic Pellingra. A little over a minute later, a shot by Welles was deflected by Emory goalie Keith Meehan and clanged off the post.
Finally, in the second overtime, UR found the back of the net. Following a corner kick that was deflected out by an Emory defender, Pellingra threw the ball back into the Emory box, where it found the head of senior midfielder Bobby Milenovici, who put the ball into the right corner of the goal to give UR the victory. This was Milenovici’s second overtime winner of the season.
“Beating a top 10 team on senior day was a great accomplishment for seniors Paco Corbalan, Jeremy Mann, Eric Meister, Nick Mikolenko, Bobby Milenovici, Boston Nyer, Matt O’Donnell, Patrick Ripp and Matt Sulkin,” Apple said.
The ‘Jackets are now 10-2-1 and on a seven-game winning streak. They are back in action on Friday night, when they travel to Houghton College to take on the 7-2-3 Highlanders at 7 p.m. They then return to UAA play.
Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.