Men’s soccer topped off its spectacular 2004 season by sweeping the Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament to earn the 2004 Upstate Championship title.
The tournament consisted of four teams whose impressive regular season records qualified them for the ECAC championships, including St. John Fisher College, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Plattsburgh and top-seeded UR.
In the semifinals, Rochester went up against Fisher. Fisher was completely shut down by the Yellowjacket defense, being held to three shots-on-goal for the entire game.
The defensive line not only established effective passing routes, but it also created offensive opportunities.
Graduate student Ben Cross recorded the Yellowjackets’ first goal off a beautiful interception from one of Fisher’s defenseman. Cross picked off the pass, turned and fired the ball, which ricocheted off the side of the goal post and trickled in to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead. It was Cross’ eighth goal of the season and the 14th and final goal of his UR career.
“Playing [on an injured foot] was really brave,” Head Coach Chris Apple said. “He scored a great goal against Fisher and did it while playing injured. Now that’s dedication.”
Senior Michael Springer scored the final goal of the match. Standing at midfield, freshman Jeremy Mann initiated the play by dropping a bomb in front of Fisher’s net. Springer lept to the ball and popped it back into the air with his head. The ball floated over the goaltender before landing inside the net and giving the Yellowjackets the final score 2-0.
In the championship game the next day against SUNY Plattsburgh, both teams remained scoreless until the start of the second half, when junior Nate Micklos broke the stalemate.
Micklos put the Yellowjackets on top when he received a pass from junior Stephen Maltzman. Micklos drilled the ball from the left side to the opposite side of the back post.
Micklos continued his offensive surge several minutes later, working with junior Gary Stom to carry the ball downfield against three of Plattsburgh’s defenders. Stom shuffled the ball ahead of Micklos, who caught up to it before Plattsburgh’s goalie could. Micklos bounced the ball off the goaltender and into the net to pad Rochester’s lead to 2-0, which represented the final score.
Micklos was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award for his two goals against Plattsburgh. Those goals, the 41st and 42nd of his career, mark a new UR record for most career goals.
The Yellowjackets end the season ranked No. 11 in Division III polls and sporting a record of 12-2-4.
When the Yellowjackets convene for 2005, they will find themselves short five players – Ben Cross, Michael Springer, Jeffrey White, Eric Jablonka and Stephen Maltzman.
Serafini can be reached at jserafini@