UR Men’s Soccer traveled to SUNY Oneonta last Saturday for the Division III NCAA playoffs. And by the time the Yellowjackets left, they had made a fantastic comeback, stunned the highly-ranked host, and made it to the Sweet 16.
The second round saw the ‘Jackets in a Sunday matchup against no. 6 Oneonta. In the first half, junior Josh Cooley was fouled in the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Senior midfielder Alex Di Perna set up to take the shot. In a strange chain of events, he shot the ball into the net, but then was forced to re-kick when the referee ruled that he had not yet whistled the play live. The second attempt was blocked, and the first half remained scoreless.
In the 54th minute, the ‘Jackets were able to capitalize on defensive mistakes by the Red Dragons. Di Perna crossed the ball from the right to sophomore midfielder Mitch Volis, who dribbled in and put the ball in the top right corner of the net.
Both teams kept pushing hard. In the 67th minute, the trailing Red Dragons had a nice opportunity, but just as the ‘Jackets were about to clear it, a foul was called on Rochester. The free kick that resulted was headed in, tying the score at one.
Late in the game, with less than eight minutes remaining, a yellow card was called on Timothy Hoffman of Oneonta. The ensuing free kick was cleared by the Red Dragons’ defense, but Volis recovered and passed to Di Perna, who finished with a header, taking a late lead.
With less than two minutes left in the game, senior midfielder Stefan Sarkovich was called for a yellow card. The Red Dragons quickly capitalized, and a hand ball by the ‘Jackets gave the Red Dragons a penalty shot to try to tie the game. Luckily for the ‘Jackets, senior goalkeeper Redd Brown deflected the ball to the side, and the ‘Jackets held on, 2–1, to advance to the Sweet 16.
The first round game was against Connecticut College.
“As a team we talked about how we need to leave everything on the field because this is the only game that we are guaranteed to have,” said junior midfielder Bryce Ikeda.
The ‘Jackets took the field against the Camels in elimination-game mentality.
The game remained scoreless for the first half. Then, in the 55th minute, sophomore defender Nate Leopold blocked a shot from Chris Lockwood of Connecticut, resulting in a corner kick. That set up a header for Lockwood that allowed for the Camels to take a 1–0 lead.
The ‘Jackets kept fighting, and in the 81st minute, Ikeda took a throw-in that went toward the Camels’ keeper, who was unable to secure it. Sophomore midfielder Zach Lawlor headed the ball in for the equalizer.
The game remained tied for the rest of regulation. Less than three minutes into overtime, sophomore Christian Baltier evaded defenders to cross the ball to Cooley, who found the net. The goal capped off a great comeback, allowing the ‘Jackets to advance to play Oneonta with a 2–1 overtime victory.
Next weekend, the Yellowjackets will continue tournament play in the third round against Amherst College at a location to be determined.