After knocking off 10th-ranked University of Chicago, the Rochester men’s soccer team entered Saturday night’s game against Case Western Reserve University with something to prove. The guys had a whole week to prepare for Case Western. They knew the implications of a win over Case Western in their last regular season game.

The Yellowjackets had set themselves up perfectly to make the NCAA Division III tournament. A win versus Case Western should have sealed the deal.

Lead by junior forward Nate Micklos’ three goals Saturday night, the Yellowjackets shut out Case Western 4-0. Take Five Scholar Ben Cross scored the fourth Yellowjacket goal. The other Take Five Scholar, Mike Springer, sounded confident after the win.

“We came out with intensity and scored early,” Springer said. “That was key.”

Juniors Gary Stom and Jeremy Goico had two assists apiece. The Yellowjackets took total control of the game on the offensive side of the ball. Rochester outshot the Spartans, 15-1.

Micklos displayed himself as an offensive force, like he was all year, with three of the team’s four goals. But his effort had a bigger impact for him individually. With those three goals, Nate tied a 40-year-old school record for goal-scoring prowess. Micklos’ remarkable achievement ties the existing school mark set originally in 1964 by George Schmergel and matched in 1973 by Reed Martin.

Micklos also raised his career total to 40 goals, one shy of Martin’s career goal-scoring mark of 41, set from 1971-74. After the game, Micklos was dishing the credit as though he had just won the all-time assist record. As a leader and true teammate, he gave much of the credit to his team.

“I was surprised I tied the record,” Micklos said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t have such good players around me. I couldn’t have done it without them. Most importantly, though, we had a great season.”

The Yellowjackets finished off the season with a win and regular season record of 12-2-4, 3-0-4 in the UAA.

The combination of an impressive record and thrilling upsets against nationally-ranked teams should have punched the Yellowjacket’s ticket to the NCAA tourney. Leaving the team in utter disbelief, they barely missed the cut to make it to the big tournament. A state of shock was felt by every player on the team.

“Yes, the team was disappointed on Sunday night when we heard the news that we barely missed out on the NCAA tourney,” Head Coach Chris Apple said.

The captains talked with the team and, to their credit, they agreed that the season has been too enjoyable and they love competing together too much to pass up an opportunity to keep playing in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

That’s the amazing thing about this group of players. They care about each other and enjoy the time they spend together so much that they couldn’t imagine ending the season earlier than necessary.

St Lawrence University was given an NCAA bid over the Yellowjackets. The irony here is that Rochester beat St. Lawrence 2-0 at home earlier this season. That game must haven not been taken into consideration when the committee selected the field of teams.

So now the Yellowjackets move on and try to gain focus on the ECAC playoffs. Rochester will host the tournament on Saturday and Sunday at Edwin Fauver Stadium.

As the number one seed, the Yellowjackets will host the winner of Wednesday’s opening-round match between Alfred University and their host St. John Fisher College. Second-seeded SUNY Plattsburgh will play the winner of third-seeded SUNY Brockport against sixth-seeded Union College.

The Rochester bracket winners game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Plattsburgh bracket winners game will be played at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The winners meet at 1 p.m. Sunday for the ECAC Championship.

Rochester has won four consecutive ECAC Northeast Regional Championships. The Yellowjackets defeated Nazareth College in 2000 at SUNY Fredonia, beat Plattsburgh at Plattsburgh in 2001, topped Plattsburgh in 2002 at Fauver Stadium and defeated SUNY Geneseo in overtime at Hobart College in 2003.

The Yellowjackets finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Northeast poll and No. 2 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Northeast poll.

As for the national poll that came out on Tuesday, the Yellowjackets finished No. 11 in the 2004 NCAA Division III poll.

Rovinsky can be reached at

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