It was the same story as last year when the men’s soccer team took on the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers on Tuesday night just a little less dramatic. A year ago, UR came back from a one-goal deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation to beat the Tigers 3-2. The clinching score was a header from sophomore defender Phil Proud with seven seconds left in the game.
On Tuesday night, the ‘Jackets battled back from a one-goal deficit to defeat its crosstown rival, 2-1. With the win, UR will enter conference play on Saturday with a 6-1-2 record and ranked No. 22 in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.
‘We prepare for every match in much the same way, focusing on being defensively organized and dangerous on attack,” head coach Chris Apple said. ‘But when it comes to a local derby like RIT, we remind the team that it is going to be battle and that we need to compete for every ball. It’s the same for our UAA competition most games will come down to one goal, and the team that is more determined will win.”
After 38 minutes of scoreless action, RIT managed to get on the board first when midfielder Allen Nicholson’s free kick found its way past UR junior goalie Michael Peacock. The score was Nicholson’s first of the season. After 38 minutes of scoreless action, RIT managed to get on the board first when
Despite obvious offensive dominance the ‘Jackets outshot RIT, 6-2, and took 10 corner kicks in the first half compared to just one from the Tigers UR was unable to finish on its opportunities in the first half and went into halftime down one.
UR fought back in the second half and netted an equalizer less than 15 minutes into the period. Senior defender Dominic Pellingra floated a corner kick into the box, and junior forward J.J. Dennstedt finished on the play, tying the game at one.
Senior midfielder Sean Hantes proved to be the difference in the game. In the 74th minute, Dennstedt crossed the ball into the box, where it was headed along by sophomore midfielder Steve Welles on to the foot of Hantes, who volleyed the ball past the RIT netminder.
The goal gave UR a 2-1 lead, which it hung onto for the remainder of play.
It was also a good sign for Hantes, who has generated a lot of offensive pressure for the ‘Jackets in the last three games but had failed to net a goal. The senior has four goals on the season.
Executing on offensive opportunities has been a struggle for the ‘Jacket team as a whole this season. Apple credits his team’s ability to finish after halftime to a different mindset.
‘The second half, our guys were much more aggressive in RIT’s penalty box, and it paid off on both goals,” Apple said.
But it was more than just an aggressive offense that sustained the ‘Jackets against the Tigers. UR’s defense was solid and benefitted from the enthusiasm of its non-starters.
‘[Freshmen defenders] Jake Cargill and Scott Zorn brought tons of energy and made a difference off the bench,” Apple said. ‘Dominic Pellingra along with our back line and Peacock in goal never really gave RIT a sniff in the second half.”
UR enters University Athletic Association play this weekend against Brandeis University. The Judges have a 6-2 record this season but are slated in last place in the UAA preseason poll. Brandeis is also coming off a tough 2-1 loss to Wheaton College in Massachusetts, who is No. 15 in the week’s NSCAA poll.
The conference will be the true test for UR, as the UAA is traditionally one of the toughest leagues in the nation and hosts a number of perennial powerhouses.
Last season, UR took the UAA title and rode a dominant defense into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
The Yellowjackets gave up just three goals in eight conference games last year and didn’t lose a game.
UR must overcome a tough four-game road trip in the month of October if they hope to repeat. But Apple is confident that his team will, at the very least, go into each game armed with the appropriate mindset.
‘The UAA is as tough as ever, with four teams in the top 25 and a fifth team receiving votes,” Apple said. ‘When we play to our potential, we can compete with anyone in the country, so I like our chances in the league.”
Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.