The men?s soccer team recently established itself as the dominant force in the Rochester area with a 1-0 win over cross-town rival the Rochester Institute of Technology.

UR has defeated local competitors Nazareth, St. John Fisher College, Ithaca College and SUNY Geneseo and currently stands 9-1-1 overall and 3-1-0 in the University Athletic Association.

With six games remaining in the regular season, the Yellowjackets are ranked 13th in the nation and second in the region by the most recent National Soccer Collegiate Athletic Association poll.

Tied for second place in the UAA, UR faces a critical weekend of UAA competition as they host Washington University at 6 p.m. tomorrow night and University of Chicago at 11 a.m. Sunday morning.

The Bears are currently in first place in the UAA with a record of 7-2-2, just one point ahead of UR and Carnegie Mellon University who are tied for second place.

The University of Chicago faces a similarly potent threat as they enter Sunday?s game ranked 22nd in the nation and a record of 8-3-0. The Maroons are in fifth place in the UAA with an in-conference record of 2-2-0.

Both games are extremely important in UR?s fight for an NCAA tournament birth and possession of the UAA crown.

?This weekend provides us with the opportunity to beat two tough conference opponents,? head coach Chris Apple said. ?Both teams are talented and play a similar style with short passing, possession and attacking soccer being their strong suits.?

The Yellowjackets will have had over a week between games when they step onto the turf Friday night, something senior back Chuck Welliver thinks has helped get everyone ?healthy and refreshed? for the upcoming weekend.

Apple is similarly confident in his team?s ability to perform through an intense weekend of soccer.

?Playing two games in three days is always a challenge,? Apple said. ?The great thing about this team, however, is the way they respond to difficult situations. We have great depth and fitness and even better mental toughness,? he added.

He is also pleased with his team?s attitude at this point in the season.

?The guys continue to be focused and motivated for every practice and every match, which is a tribute to their commitment to excellence,? he said. ?They have not let small successes or failures deter them from their ultimate goal which is to be their collective best.?

Apple was particularly impressed by the recent play of sophomore midfielders Brandon Laws and Nick Wheeler, and junior midfielder Jeff Parrinello.

Laws ?created some great chances? and scored the game-winner against RIT, while Parrinello and Wheeler had ?strong performances against RIT, winning balls in the midfield and contributing to the attack.?

Tomorrow night kicks off an exciting weekend for both the men?s and women?s soccer teams. UR?s Varsity Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has paired both soccer teams with spring sports teams who will be hosting a ?spirit day? to support both teams against Washington University in St. Louis tomorrow night at Fauver Stadium.

?There will be prizes and giveaways in addition to the great soccer,? Apple said. ?We want to get the community out in full force.?

Seferiadis can be reached at jseferiadis@campustimes.org.



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