The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) currently ranks the ’Jackets 6th in the nation. UR defeated Marywood University 5-0 on Friday, Aug. 31, and SUNY Fredonia, 6-0 on Sunday, Sept. 1 to win the Flower City Classic.
Seidlitz earned tournament MVP honors, while Cargill was named defensive MVP as the Yellowjackets improved to 2-0 on the season.
But the real story of the weekend was UR’s underclassmen. Of the ’Jackets’ 11 weekend goals, nine were scored by freshmen and sophomores.
Freshman forwards Jeffrey Fafinski and Tyler Buck had a goal apiece. Fafinski also added two assists.
Sophomore forwards Alex Swanger, Shane Dobles, Ben Keeton and Griffin Drake all found the back of the net once and sophomore forward Jack Thesing had the best weekend of the bunch, chipping in three scores and an assist.
“We have a lot of returners from last year,” UR head coach Chris Apple, whose team finished 9-5-2 last season, said. “Over twenty guys returned from last year’s team, so we have good experience and good depth.”
Swanger and Dobles, despite being just second-year players, are seasoned veterans of sorts.
Swanger dealt with injuries in 2011, but started nine of 12 games, tallying two goals and an assist en route to All-UAA Honorable Mention honors. Dobles had one score a year ago while playing in all 16 contests.
The others, however, are more new to the world.
In 2011, Keeton played just six games. Thesing and Drake didn’t see any action last season. And, of course, Fafinski and Buck were in high school this time last year.
What will intimidate opponents is that UR also has several talented returning upperclassmen, especially on defense.
In 2011, senior goalkeeper Scott Garfing in 2011 compiled an 8-4-1 record and 0.69 goals against average. The 6-foot-2-inch, 165-pounder earned the win Friday, Aug. 31 against Marywood.
Junior backups Mike Moranz and Alex Sandler also played and did well last season. On Sunday, the duo combined to shut out Fredonia.
“All three of those guys are doing great,” Apple said. “They all had a good preseason. It’s one of those good problems to have.
Three good goalkeepers makes it tough for us to decide who starts. But to have that level of talent in goal is just terrific for our team, our depth. If somebody gets injured or sick or has to go for a job interview, we don’t miss a beat with all three guys.”Last year’s starting defensive unit made up of senior Andrew Roberts, sophomore Andrew Sheridan, Seidlitz and Cargill are all back as well.
“Those guys all played last year,” Apple said. “They’re strong, smart, good with the ball, make good decisions and position themselves well to thwart the opponent’s attack. We think that’s one of our strengths for sure. They’ve all played really well, so we’re excited about the back four.”
Not to be forgotten are junior midfielders Max Fan, who scored two goals in the Flower City Classic, and Take Five Scholar Max Eberhardt.
A year ago, Fan led the ’Jackets with four goals. He might very well be UR’s most explosive offensive weapon.
Last year, UR did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years. Having strong veteran leadership is invaluable to any team’s playoff aspirations.
“I feel like we got a bit unlucky last year,” Pastore said. “We had made the tournament six years in a row and that year was just painful to not make it. So this year, I think we’re going to have a renewed drive to really go as far as we can. I have good feelings about our team.”
Mulberg is a member of the class of 2014.