On Tuesday, the women’s soccer team, in its first night game at Fauver Stadium, defeated Rochester Institute of Technology (3-4-1), 4-0.
Sophomore forward Bridgette Varin scored the game’s first and final goals, while junior midfielder Mae Butler and sophomore midfielder Kirsten Ross chipped in with single goals of their own.
Only 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the game, a well-executed corner-kick play set up Varin for the first goal. Butler crossed the ball to freshman forward Ellen Coleman, who headed it into the loose hands of RIT’s senior goalkeeper Ashley Conti.
UR’s senior midfielder Laura Bojko reacted to the fumble by Conti, and Varin booted the ball into the back of the net.
About 65 minutes later, senior midfielder Sara Goico’s cross landed at the feet of junior forward Emma Moran, who controlled the loose ball and ultimately assisted sophomore midfielder Kirsten Ross’s solid shot.
At about the 82-minute mark, an RIT player was issued a yellow card that set up a free kick for the Yellowjackets on the left side of the pitch. Butler’s 25-yard shot turned into the team’s third goal.
With only about three minutes left in the game, Coleman blew by an RIT defender and dished the ball to Varin, who skillfully dribbled the ball around the keeper and put it into the net.
Not only did the win mark the seventh consecutive victory and fifth straight shutout for UR, but it also gave the Yellowjackets a reason to redeem themselves.
‘We had to take revenge,” Varin said. ‘Last year, RIT beat us for the first time in college history, so we needed to win this grudge match.”
Indeed, the game was full of grudges four yellow cards were issued in the second half alone.
Despite these aggressive confrontations, the ‘Jackets, ranked No. 16 in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, were able to improve their season record to 5-1-2.
Assistant coach Thomas Dardaganis attributed the victory and the success of the team thus far this season to ‘discipline in training and practice as well as enthusiasm from our senior leaders.”
Throughout the course of this non-conference match-up, the passionate fans, whose voices were represented by the shouts of the men’s soccer team, witnessed such discipline and enthusiasm.
The nationally ranked team was in control both offensively and defensively. On the defensive side, UR allowed the Tigers to take only five shots on net. Offensively, the team compiled twenty scoring opportunities.
‘We create a lot of goal opportunities,” Dardaganis said. ‘And although we finish on a fair amount of them, we have to take advantage of capitalizing on more of the chances that we’re creating.”
The Yellowjackets almost netted a goal on countless scoring opportunities against RIT.
To begin, in the first half when the ‘Jackets were awarded a free kick just outside of the goalkeeper’s box, their shot was deflected and ultimately blocked by RIT’s powerful wall of defenders. A few minutes later, a well-placed corner kick almost set up a goal for senior defender Kelsey Turley. Then, in the second half, Varin nearly scored when she and Conti, who recorded nine saved goals in the game, collided. Lastly, with 31 minutes and 10 seconds remaining in the match, Coleman sent the ball beautifully through the goalkeeper’s box and just wide of the post.
RIT also created multiple occasions on which they nearly scored, but UR’s defense, which head coach Terry Gurnett regarded with great pride, was too strong for the Tigers.
For instance, junior defender Stephanie Diebold read a breakaway exceptionally well, and junior midfielder Erin Carballo saved a goal that would have resulted from an almost perfectly placed corner kick. UR prevented two other goals off of corner kicks, both of which occurred at around the twenty-minute mark, as well. Overall, the Yellowjackets outnumbered the Tigers in corner kicks, 9-4, and junior goalkeeper Celeste Hornbach saved two key shots.
Despite the fact that the ‘Jackets’ defense shined, Dardaganis was most concerned with the expertise of the Tigers’ defense.
‘RIT is a very athletic and aggressive team,” he said. ‘Their defense executes very well, so we have to win loose balls. Once we’re able to secure the ball and generate more possession for ourselves, we’ll dictate the pace of the game.”
The team certainly controlled the tempo of the game by making short, quick passes, taking smart shots, refusing to lunge at the ball, communicating extremely well and, overall, playing with class.
UR’s performance, however, was not perfect. ‘We [need to continue to] stress team defending a lot, and I would have liked to see us compete for 50-50 balls better,” Gurnett explained. ‘We were opportunistic and forced to play reactive soccer in order to match RIT’s level of intensity.”
Earlier in the week, UR beat Utica College, 4-0, and tied William Smith College, 0-0. The Yellowjacket’s next match is on Saturday at 3 p.m., when they face St. John Fisher College, which is 2-6-0.
In preparation for Saturday’s afternoon game, the ‘Jackets will train on and off the field.
‘It’s important to focus on the little things like the everyday fundamentals [that we go over] in training and in practice,” Dardaganis said. ‘That [focus] will translate into success on game days. I know it’s clich, but if you practice well, then you play well.”
Gurnett also suggested a reliable source for the team’s motivation, stating that the women play hard for each other because ‘they care about one another and get the sense of the word “team.'”
There is no doubt that teamwork dominated Tuesday’s match vs. RIT for the Yellowjackets. In fact, their simple but powerful halftime cheer, ‘1-2-3 Team”, spoke volumes about UR’s invaluable selflessness.
In short, the ‘Jackets’ motivation, diligence, skill and teamwork prove only to create a recipe for success in the future.
Kravitz is a member of the class of 2012.