The men’s soccer team could have won by 100 goals on Saturday and it wouldn’t have mattered.
As it was, the Yellowjackets erupted for their best offensive performance of the year on Saturday in Cleveland in a 6-0 drubbing of Case Western Reserve University. It was all for naught, however, when the team found out in the locker room that Emory University had been defeated 1-0 at home by Carnegie Mellon University.
The victory gave the Tartans the University Athletic Association crown and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III tournament. The Yellowjackets, meanwhile finished two points short of the championship and the spot that they coveted all year. It was the team’s preseason goal to win the league and go to the tournament.
The seniors addressed their teammates afterward, stressing the importance of controlling your own destiny and not leaving it in the hands of others – in this case Emory.
“We fell a little short of our goal on one hand,” Coach Chris Apple said. “But on the other hand it’s the best team we’ve had in the last five years.”
Apple felt that his team could have done damage if they had qualified for the NCAA’s.
“It’s disappointing because we not only could have competed in the tournament, we could have won a few games,” he said. “The parity in the sport is unbelievable.”
Although his team fell short of their goal, Apple was impressed with their resiliency. The team overcame a plethora of injuries and finished the season strong, second in the league ahead of talented teams such as Emory and Washington University in St. Louis.
“The kids really responded well – they never gave in, they never quit,” Apple said of the injuries that plagued his team.
UR will have to settle with defending an Eastern Collegiate Athletic Association Northeast Regional title that they have captured the past three seasons. The top seed in the ECAC tournament is a Hobart team that easily handled UR 4-1 earlier in the season. Had UR defeated Hobart they might have received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
“Our team would love to have another shot at Hobart,” Apple said.
The Yellowjackets got off to a good start in the ECACs Wednesday night, defeating Vassar College, 2-1 in a thrilling overtime shootout.
Sophomore Gary Stom clinched the victory on the team’s final kick, placing the ball past Vassar goalie Paul Connors in the bottom right corner.
Senior goalkeeper Brian Minehan made three saves for UR in the shootout, which beat Vassar, 3-2 in penalty kicks.
Senior Mike Springer scored for the Yellowjackets in regulation. He also netted the second penalty kick during the shootout.
UR is scheduled to face SUNY Plattsburgh in the semi-finals. The Yellowjackets have ended Plattsburgh’s season the past two years, both times in ECAC action.
Against Case Western, UR led 1-0 at the half, then exploded in the second for five goals in 15 minutes. Springer had three goals, sophomore Nate Micklos had two and senior Ross D’Eredita had one.
“I’m really pleased and proud of the way that the kids played,” Apple said. “At halftime we talked about putting more pressure on them and taking more shots. In the second half we played some of the best soccer of the year.”
This year’s senior class of Springer, D’Eredita, Nick Wheeler, Brandon Laws, Nate Rimmke and Minehan currently has the school record of 53 wins and counting. Minehan also has the school record of 26 shutouts and counting.
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