In the last three meetings between UR and Ithaca College this much has been certain – the game is a tightly-contested, physical battle that will finish in overtime.
Tuesday night’s showdown between two of the more talented teams in the Northeast followed suit, as 110 minutes were not enough to determine a winner. The game ended in a 1-1 tie as UR evened the score with a dramatic goal in the final minutes of overtime.
Trailing 1-0 late in the game, UR mounted two serious challenges, which the Bombers were lucky to thwart. Ithaca goalkeeper Dave Corvi misplayed a pass back from one of his defenders that looked like a sure goal in the 87th minute. The defense somehow kept the ball in front of the goal line, clearing it out of bounds to remain in the lead. In the ensuing corner kick, senior Mike Springer’s point-blank shot was also cleared.
UR was undeterred and continued to press. Sophomore Gary Stom delivered one of his vaunted flip-throw that threatened the Ithaca defense throughout the game. This time UR was able to convert as freshman Damien Hallatt trapped the long throw and deflected it to senior Brandon Laws, who found the back of the net.
The Yellowjackets may consider themselves fortunate to come away from the game with at least a tie. Leading scorer sophomore forward Nate Micklos missed his second consecutive game with an MCL strain. Three other key contributors – seniors Springer and Nick Wheeler and Stom – limped through the Ithaca contest with injuries of their own.
“He’s definitely one of the best finishers on our team,” UR Head Coach Chris Apple said of Micklos. “It hurts not having him in the lineup, but the young guns have stepped up big time.”
Although Apple praised the performance of younger players, such as freshmen Greg Colavecchia and Tyler Green and sophomore Chris Lee in the absence of Micklos, the trio has been plagued by the inability to finish. It is the one part of the game that has been sorely missing from the Yellowjacket attack.
UR controlled the pace of play for most of the game, skillfully switching fields and dominating possession, as it has for virtually every contest it has appeared in this season. This was apparent as the Yellowjackets, now 5-2-1, outshot the 6-1-2 Bombers 17-10.
However, by using a formation that only contains three defenders – albeit skillful, experienced ones in seniors Ross D’Eredita, Nate Rimmke and Brandon Laws – UR has left itself vulnerable at times to the counter-attack.
Such was the case on Ithaca’s lone goal, in which forward Glen Palilla headed home a cross from Benjamin Visnyei in the 69th minute. It was the fourth consecutive game in which Palilla has scored.
UR senior goalie Brian Minehan played well, despite being beaten on the play, and had five saves.
The disparity in shots was even more apparent in UR’s 2-1 victory over Clarkson on Saturday. Although the Yellowjackets outshot the Golden Knights 23-4, they still had to work to pull off a come from behind victory.
Clarkson took the lead one minute into the second half when forward Ismael Mohammed beat Minehan on a breakaway. UR responded with two goals in an eight-minute span – the first on a Lee equalizer off a free kick from Laws in the 60th minute. Colavecchia netted the winner on a pretty play – heading a pass from Damien Hallat over a Clarkson defender to himself, then knocking it into the goal at 68:05.
Apple’s main concern after a grueling schedule is to get his team healthy in time for league play. UR was able to defeat Clarkson despite having Micklos, Stom, Wheeler and Springer out of the lineup. The team has also been without senior midfielder Ben Cross, who is red shirting the season due to injury.
The game against Ithaca was especially rough, as five players and a coach were issued yellow cards. UR expected a tough contest going in as Ithaca ended second-ranked St. Lawrence’s 27- game home winning streak, in its previous contest.
“He was calling soft fouls, but it was the really tough, hard fouls that he wasn’t calling,” Apple said of referee Ken Tanner’s calls.
“It was mostly a consistency issue that upset me,” Apple added, stating the referee’s performance had no effect on the outcome of the game and that he didn’t want to complain about it.
The team opens league play at Brandeis on Saturday, Oct. 4.
Rybaltowski can be reached at email@example.com.