The women’s soccer team brought their regular season to a close with two monumental victories over Nazareth College last Wednesday and Brandeis University on Saturday.

The contest against Nazareth was an edgy one, but the Yellowjackets managed to have a 1-0 edge over their opponents, ranked 23rd in the nation. After a scoreless game throughout most of the minutes, following a precedent set by other low scoring games in previous years, junior forward Alison Collins scored the game-winning goal in the 73rd minute.

Collins knocked the ball in after a pass through the middle from sophomore forward Kristin Kelly. The goal, however, came after a series of entanglements and confusion by the net. “The nice thing about it [the goal] was that she just scored in a scramble after she just picked it up,” coach Terry Gurnett said. “It was a great goal, an opportunistic one, something we have been desperately seeking.” Collins expressed how gaining the one-goal advantage made the rest of the game more intense and exciting.

On the surface, UR’s game against Nazareth seems like an average game. This is a misconception, as the game was an all-out battle and one of the most emotionally-charged games of the entire season. In 2001, the teams faced each other and Nazareth came out on top, keeping UR from competing in the NCAA tournament. “It was a huge game for us, so we really pumped ourselves up and did a lot of team bonding to prepare for the game,” sophomore midfielder Betsy Cotton said. “During the game, we just came out really strong because we wanted revenge. Due to the rivalry, the game was very physical battle.

Many of the women touched on the idea of mental preparation that Meg Barritt, senior midfielder, named as “essential” to the victory. Efforts driven by coaches, upperclassmen, and underclassmen alike helped put the Yellowjackets in the mindset ready to handle Nazareth, a notoriously rough team. “Once we made up our mind we were going to play 90 minutes and play a hard 90, we were a tough team to beat,” Gurnett said. “We showed our mental toughness, that is what we displayed that day. We made our minds that we wanted to win that game.”

The combination of practices, motivation, a full 90 minutes of intensity and awareness and especially mental preparation gave the Yellowjackets the satisfaction of a win over their archrivals. Barritt, looking back on the game, simply stated, “Revenge is sweet.”

UR carried this enthusiasm and energy from the Nazareth game to the Brandeis contest that ended 1-0. This game, the final one for the Jackets in the regular season, also marked Senior Day that was significant for the team’s upperclassmen. The team, after knocking the ball around the field for much of the game, managed to take the lead with a single goal. Sophomore forward Portia Bridges possessed the ball and was dribbling toward the goal, but these efforts were thwarted by a Brandeis defender who took out Bridges.

UR earned a penalty kick, which Collins took to put the Yellowjackets ahead, after scoring her 15th goal of the season. The team, however, felt that many opportunities the team was offered were not taken advantage of, and the intensity of this game was not as severe as Nazareth. “Naturally, after a game that is so intense, there will be a bit of a let down,” Gurnett said. “We knew it would be a tough game, but we didn’t attack them with the same intensity as before. In the first half, we squandered chances. We weren’t as focused as we should’ve been.”

UR’s seniors showed great leadership and inner drive throughout the game. “Brandeis was important for our seniors ? it was emotional for them and all of us,” Cotton said. Gurnett noted that “Amy Kelmenson and Meg Barritt, my two seniors, were extremely tough and showed great leadership throughout the game and brought us through it.” Barrtt said, “The end of our season has been good because we have stepped up big-time. It gives the seniors hope and knowledge that we can play well in the tournament and hope for the best for future years.”

Although the team hopes to compete in the premier NCAA tournament, if they don’t make it UR will play in the ECAC tournament. The team finds out Sunday about their post-season fate, and will be relying on their 13-5 record to carry them to the next tier.

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