Before dropping a game to the William Smith College Herons last night, the women’s soccer team confidently began their fall season by slashing their opponents’ dreams of winning all the games played thus far. Will they keep up their winning record? Only time will tell.

In their first weekend of play, the Yellowjackets defeated Kenyon College, 2-0, and Denison University, 1-0. Additionally, their last game against St. John Fisher on Saturday was another win, 2-0.

At the St. John Fisher game, the two goals were scored by senior defender Amy Thompson and sophomore midfielder and defender Eileen Boylan early in the second half of the game. Just over three minutes after halftime, junior Laura Bojko sent a corner kick right to senior Ali Streeter. Streeter attempted a header, which was deflected, but Thompson reacted quickly and pushed one in the net.

At 58:45, Streeter had input on another goal. She passed one to Boylan just inside the penalty arc and Boylan sent it through the net. Freshman forward Bridgette Varin attempted to score a third goal during the middle of the second half, but her shot was blocked by the opposing team.

UR managed to defeat the Cardinals even though the first scoring chance went to Fisher. The Yellowjackets were whistled for an obstruction, and the Cardinals were granted a free kick.

But, the kick was not successful as senior goalkeeper Molly Leitch punched the ball against the crossbar and denied the goal. After 72 minutes of play, senior Kate Levy came in to relieve Leitch. This fall season, Leitch has also made one save in the game against Kenyon and four saves against Denison. Yesterday, she had two saves against William Smith. Due to her impressive shutout performances, she was recently named the Defensive Player of the Week in the University Athletic Association. After Saturday’s win against Fisher, she has 16 shutouts in her college career.

On Saturday, Sept. 2, the ‘Jackets met up with the Denison University Big Red in Ohio. Denison finished last year’s season at the same position as the ‘Jackets. Both teams were eliminated in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

However, UR took control of the Big Red in a 1-0 win. It was Thompson with the lone goal early in the game. Though it was the only goal, it was enough for the victory, thanks to the four saves from Leitch.

The day before, the Yellowjackets took on Kenyon College for the season-opening match. Kenyon’s home field advantage was not nearly enough to hold back the ‘Jackets. Senior Tammy Brewster scored the first goal of the season off an assist from freshman Kirsten Ross at 20:53. The second goal came with just 10 minutes left in the game. It came from Varin off yet another assist from Streeter.

The Yellowjackets have a total of five new freshmen who add depth to the team. Jessica Blum, Meaghan Magee, Heather Dell, Ross and Varin have all come in to fill gaps left by the seven seniors who graduated last year. Varin has taken full advantage of her position of forward with seven shots on goal in the first four games.

Unfortunately, the freshmen were unable to help out at last night’s game against William Smith. The beginning of the first half was relatively uneventful, but the Herons had an outburst at 23:37, scoring the first goal against UR all season. Only five and a half minutes later, a William Smith player broke away from the pack and scored a goal from 17 yards away.

Though the ‘Jackets far outshot the Herons in the second half 8-2 and outshot them overall 14-7, they were unable to bring a goal to fruition, and they sustained their first loss of the season, 0-2. Leitch had two saves for the game.

The Yellowjackets have outshot all of their opponents by a large margin, a big contributor to the outscoring of their opponents and sign of the ‘Jackets’ defensive strength. So far this season, UR has already made 54 shots on goal compared to their opponents’ 24.

Senior left outside back Darby Grant is a new addition to the four returning class of 2008 starters. Her strength on the defensive end of the field has kept the goal area clear of a multitude of shots.

The four returning senior starters of Laura Morrison, Ashley Van Vechten, Thompson and Leitch have provided leadership for the team.

Last year, Van Vechten was named an NSCAA/adidas First Team All-American for the second year in a row. She was also named New York State Defensive Player of the Year.

Last season, Morrison was third on the team in scoring with four goals. In her college career, Leitch has tallied a 0.32 goals-against average.

Bojko started 19 games last year, and fellow junior Kelsey Turley started 17. Bojko made an All-State team in the midfield position, and Turley made third team All-Region.

In addition to the new freshmen, returning starting juniors and the returning starting seniors, the team has an extremely large group of sophomores, including returning letterwinners Stephanie Diebold and Leanne Kinney. These nine girls continue to improve each week and have much to learn and gain for the future.

Multiple returning starters also made the All-University Athletic Association teams, as well.

UR’s next two games continue its away stint of six games. The team plays their first home match on Monday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. against Alfred University. They play their first match against a UAA team on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Brandeis University.

The UAA promises to be a competitive conference with fierce opponents. Washington University in St. Louis, a member of the UAA, also made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA last year and was eliminated in that round, just like the ‘Jackets.

Before the season began, UR was slated to win the UAA, edging out Wash. U by a very narrow margin. The Bears were one of only two teams the ‘Jackets lost to last season.

“We started off the season strong, and hopefully it will continue in the region and the conference,” Leitch said.

Vezza is a member of the class of 2010.Additional reporting by Erin Philbrick.

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