The Yellowjacket men’s soccer team kicked off their conference schedule in thrilling fashion on Saturday, traveling to Brandeis University and coming away with a 2-1 overtime victory. This is the third straight win for the ‘Jackets and the fifth in six games.

It didn’t take long for UR to get on the board. Ten minutes into the game, senior defender Nick Mikolenko’s corner kick was headed into the goal by a Brandeis defender who was attempting to clear the ball.

The ‘Jackets lead held for most of the first half. The Judges put a lot of pressure on the UR defense, amounting three shots and a corner in the next fifteen minutes. One of the shots sailed high, another was blocked by a ‘Jacket defender and sophomore goalie Michael Peacock was able to get his hands on the other. With five minutes left in the half however, a UR defender’s pass back to Peacock was intercepted by Brandeis’s junior midfielder Alex Mithoefer, who chipped the ball past Peacock into the UR goal to even the score. The half was pretty evenly matched, with UR outshooting the Judges 5-4 and Brandeis holding a 2-1 advantage in corner kicks.

The second half proved a different story. The Yellowjackets dominated the field, putting the Brandeis defense to the test with eight shots and four corners. Junior forward Sean Hantes had two shots back to back, one saved by Brandeis goalie Taylor Bracken and one cleared off the goal line by the Judges defense. Bracken finished the game with eight saves and was key in forcing the overtime for Brandeis.

The extra period was just an extension of the momentum the ‘Jackets had been building up in the second half. It took only two shots before sophomore midfielder Timmer McCarthy’s shot hit off the post and rebounded to senior midfielder Bobby Milenovici, who put the ball past Bracken for the win. The goal was Milenovici’s first of the season and came just under seven minutes into the overtime period.

Giving the ‘Jackets their offensive spark was Hantes, who totaled three shots on goal, and senior midfielder Patrick Ripp with two shots. Peacock was again solid in goal for the ‘Jackets with three saves.

But if the ‘Jackets thought that an overtime victory would be enough thrill and excitement for one week of soccer, then they were mistaken. Tuesday night’s game against Rochester Institute of Technology had every fan at Fauver stadium on the edge of their seats as the ‘Jackets rallied past the Tigers in the final seconds of the game to win, 3-2.

With 20 seconds left in the game and the score tied at two, UR was awarded a free kick on the right side of the RIT box. After a couple seconds of ‘Jackets players scrambling to get in position, senior midfielder Matt Sulkin sprinted across the field to take the kick, crossing the ball to the far side of the goal. Amid almost 20 bodies, sophomore defender Phil Proud was able to get his head on the ball, deflecting it into the back corner of the Tiger’s net, with two seconds left in the game, to give the ‘Jackets the win.

In the first half, the score stayed knotted at zero for the majority of the half. The Tigers finally broke through at the 35 minute mark, when senior forward Chuck Marion converted off of a free kick cross. UR counter-attacked immediately, coming up with two corner kick opportunities, before an RIT defender was called for a foul and given a yellow card, resulting in a UR free kick just outside of the box. The resulting cross was bounced back out of the box, where it landed on the foot of senior midfielder Patrick Ripp, who sent it back in front of the Tiger goal. This time, UR sophomore forward J.J. Dennstedt put the ball past RIT junior goalie Alan Smith, tying the score at one.

The second half echoed the intensity of the first. The Tigers took a 2-1 lead nine minutes in, putting the ball past UR sophomore goalie Michael Peacock. The ‘Jackets spent the rest of the half putting the pressure on the RIT defense, which resulted in a number of opportunities. Senior midfielder Jeremy Mann had an opportunity midway through the half, but his shot went just wide of the goal. Finally, with just under seven minutes left, RIT was called for a handball in their box. The resulting penalty kick was taken by Sulkin, who coolly drilled it past Smith into the left corner of the goal to tie the game.

The victory marks the fourth in a row for the ‘Jackets, who improve to 7-2-1. The Tigers fell to 7-3-1 – it was their first loss in four games. Next on the agenda for UR is New York University next Saturday at 5 p.m. at Fauver Stadium.

Hilfinger in a member of the class of 2010.

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