October weather tasted stale to a lot of soccer teams, but not for the UR women’s team, who went 9-0-1 for the month when they tacked on a pair of wins this past weekend.

The weekend matches featured some of UR’s greatest competition seen in a long time.

The Yellowjackets first squared off against Emory University, a team that entered Fauver Stadium No. 22 in the nation to UR’s No. 17.

UR controlled the ball throughout the entire match, pressuring the Emory defense with 16 shots on goal while surrendering just two to their offense. However, converting shots into goals created some problems for UR.

The Yellowjackets tried to exploit Emory’s defense with free kicks, corner kicks and fast breaks, but couldn’t find a real opportunity to grab hold of until the final two minutes.

Emory charged down the field to UR’s end and was eventually awarded a free kick. Emory’s Jessie Dean chipped the ball from 25 yards out, but her shot was rejected by sophomore and goaltender Molly Leitch who punched out Dean’s shot. Emory tried to pressure on the rebound, but Leitch stepped in again and quelled the Emory offense.

The Yellowjackets kicked the ball out to senior Kristen Leskow, who passed the ball to junior Mary Walsh.

Walsh collected the ball upfield and burned Emory’s defense, forcing a showdown between herself and Emory’s goalkeeper. Walsh’s intimidating run forced Emory’s goalie to come off the line, at which point Walsh laced the ball into the lower left corner to give UR the lead and the final score of 1-0.

“[Leitch] had two exceptional saves in a row,” head coach Terry Gurnett said. “She made a great save on a high ball and then had to deal with two players by herself. [Leskow] also displayed intelligence and moxy with her move up the field. She took the ball and counterattacked Emory by handing it off to Mary.”

Walsh scored the goal off her left foot, which Gurnett said, “is the one she usually brings along for the ride.”

UR hoped to carry its momentum into Sunday’s game against Carnegie Mellon University, a team who came off a loss from Case Western Reserve University.

UR’s defense was able to fend off Carnegie in the first half, but succumbed to pressure in the opening of the second half as they scored against the Yellowjackets. It was the first time since the Oct. 8 game against Brandeis University that the defense had surrendered a goal to an opponent.

However, the team continued to play undeterred by this fact, responding with less than 20 minutes to go in the game.

With the help of Leskow, Walsh was able to chip the ball over the goaltender’s head to equalize the score to one a piece.

The scoring remained deadlocked at one, forcing the two teams to settle the match in overtime, which Walsh made rather short.

Juniors Emily Urbanczyk and Anne McMahon set up Walsh with the golden goal that gave UR the overtime victory and a season record of 11-1-2.

“I was very proud of what did not happen after the goal [was scored against us],” Gurnett said. “[The girls] didn’t put their heads down or give up. They dug in. More importantly, it was great to see how the team responded after the goal. They continued to pressure [Carnegie].”

The Yellowjackets certainly have a lot to be proud of. They’re 5-0-1 against teams competing in their conference and the defense has been lights out through more than three-quarters of their games this season.

However, a huge component to the team’s success this season – which was also exuded in their game against Carnegie Mellon – is their determination and desire to win.

“We try to continually apply pressure, even though we are not the best finishing team,” Gurnett said. “We maintain possession of the ball and keep it into attacking positions where we can ultimately finish. A number of things that contributed to the team’s performance are defense, spirit and composure. We never give up. When time runs short, everyone turns it up and it’s great to see.”

The team’s performance this weekend gave them a huge boost in the standings. They currently hold the No. 5 spot in NCAA regional polls and jumped from No. 17 in the nation to No. 11 with their 11-1-2 record.

Last season the Yellowjackets finished 11-6-3 qualifying them for a playoff spot in the Eastern College Athletic Conference. This year the team looks to surpass last year’s achievements.

“Halfway through the season, the coaching staff saw we had something pretty good going on,” Gurnett said. “We won games in closing minutes. Halfway through, we realized we’re alright, and knew we could defend. We just needed to figure ways out to score.”

The Yellowjackets are scheduled to close out the regular season with their final game on the road against conference rival Case Western.

Serafini can be reached at jserafin@campustimes.org.

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