As the saying goes, the postseason is the only season that matters. After being knocked out in the first and second rounds of the playoffs the last few years, the UR women’s soccer team has something to prove this year.

The Yellowjackets, ranked seventh in the country, hosted the first and second rounds of the Division III NCAA Tournament. They shutout both foes to advance to the round of 16, which they will host on Friday and Saturday.

The ‘Jackets rolled right past College Misericordia in the first round of the playoffs. UR came out aggressive, keeping the ball in the Cougars’ half for almost the entire first 15 minutes of play.

Subsequently, in the 22nd minute, senior Mary Walsh passed the ball to fellow senior Emily Urbanczyk at the top of the box. Urbanczyk took a left-footed shot that was just out of the reach of the Cougars’ goalie, hitting the left post and finding the back of the net to give UR the early lead.

In the 15th minute, Misericordia sent a long pass that managed to get through the UR defense and resulted in a fast break. Junior goalie Molly Leitch got a hand on the ball and disrupted the play. However, the Cougars wound up with the ball and took a shot with an open goal. Fortunately, the shot was blocked by a ‘Jackets defender, ending one of the few scoring opportunities for Misericordia.

While Walsh set up the first goal, she scored the second. Junior Laura Morrison sent a pass to Walsh in the box and she capitalized on the opportunity, making the score 2-0. Neither team found the back if the net again and the Yellowjackets came away with the win. UR maintained a tremendous 22-4 advantage in shots and a 12-1 advantage in corner kicks.

In the second round of the tournament, Rochester faced the No. 20 team in the country, SUNY Oneonta. After losing to the Red Dragons in the second round of the playoffs last year 3-0, this was a game of revenge.

The first half was even – neither team garnered many scoring opportunities. However, the Red Dragons had their best chance to score in the first half. Oneonta’s Sarah Begley went on a break to goal off of a pass from teammate Mary Velan; she took a shot that was thwarted by Leitch and the play resulted in a corner kick. Oneonta appeared to score off of the corner kick, but the goal was not allowed because of a foul.

After the first half ended without a goal, both teams made many substitutions in order to find the right combination of players to break the deadlock. UR found that combination in the waning moments of the game and turned up the heat, going into attack mode.

Senior Ashley Weagraff received a pass from Walsh but was unable to get a good shot on goal. Then, four minutes later, senior Anne McMahon hit a shot from 25 yards out that was barely deflected away by SUNY Oneonta’s goalie. With just over six minutes left in the game, UR was rewarded with a corner kick. Sophomore Laura Bojko took the kick and crossed the ball into the middle. Urbanczyk was on the receiving end of the pass and headed it into the goal to seal a 1-0 victory.

This was her eighth goal of the season and all have been game clinching. The UAA named her as a top performer for the week of Nov. 8.

After the game, Urbanczyk remarked, “There is a lot of chemistry with me and Mary up top. We don’t have one person with 20 goals as a red flag to the defense that says ‘mark me.’ We work hard and have a great team to support us.”

Rochester remains at home to play Messiah College, the defending Division III national champions, on Friday in the Sweet 16. Messiah is ranked eleventh in the NCAA Division III final regular season national poll and owns a 15-2-0 record for the year.

Earlier this year, Oneonta narrowly defeated Messiah in overtime. Thus, the UR-Messiah game has the makings of a tightly contested matchup. The game is scheduled to start at 11 a.m., with the winner andvancing to Saturday’s sectional final at 1 p.m.

Nathan is a member of the class of 2010.

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