It took just 43 seconds for the men’s soccer team to assert its dominance over the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans on Friday. Junior forward J.J. Dennstedt took advantage of a lapse in judgment from Tartan goalie Matt Bazin to put the Yellowjackets on the board early. Bazin attempted to clear the ball out of the Carnegie zone but instead hit Dennstedt, who blocked the ball back into the Tartan net.

The play set the tone for UR against a dangerous University Athletic Association rival, and the ‘Jackets rode the momentum to a 2-0 victory over the Tartans, who were ranked No. 11 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll at the time but fell to No. 19 with the loss.

‘We pressured well, recovered quickly and won our challenges all over the field,” head coach Chris Apple said of his team’s performance on Friday.

Two days later, the ‘Jackets traveled to Atlanta, Ga. to take on the Emory University Eagles in what would be another tightly contested conference match-up. But unlike last year, when UR managed to secure the victory with a goal in the second overtime, the Eagles gained an edge late in the first half and held on in the second to come away with a 1-0 victory.
‘[Emory] is a good team,” Apple said. ‘No one has been able to attack them this year, because they are always doing the attacking.”

The weekend split pushed the ‘Jackets record to 2-1 in the UAA and 9-2-2 overall. UR moved up one spot from last week in the NSCAA poll to No. 17.

In the game against Carnegie, UR fielded a tweaked line-up to start the game that was designed to deal with the potent Tartan attack.

‘[Carnegie] played with three up front and their wingers are really dynamic,” Apple said. ‘So, we felt we needed to go with four in the back, and it worked out well for us throughout the game. Our back line rarely allowed their wingers to get behind us.”

UR allowed just three shots in the first half and seven in the entire 90 minutes. Junior goalie Michael Peacock was solid in goal, finishing the game with four saves including a vital one midway through the game when the Yellowjackets were up 1-0 and logging his sixth shutout of the season.

The ‘Jackets added an insurance goal in the 67th minute, when sophomore midfielder Jimmy Parrinello directed a free kick into the Carnegie box and junior forward Scott Cady headed the ball past Bazin.

It was the second goal for Cady since he returned to the line-up last week after breaking a bone in his leg.

Two days later against Emory, the ‘Jackets were unable to mirror the initial energy they had from the start against the Tartans. The Eagles dominated play in the first half and held an 8-4 shot advantage after 45 minutes of physical competition where 13 fouls were committed between the two teams. The pressure finally paid off in the final minute of the period when Eagle forward Marc Del Marmol logged the game’s lone goal with 30 seconds left to go before halftime.

UR bounced back in the second half, but was unable to score the equalizer. In the final five minutes of play, in particular, the ‘Jackets controlled the movement of the ball, registering five corner kicks and a number of scoring chances.

‘I give Emory credit for digging in defensively,” Apple said. ‘On the other hand, I think Emory has to consider themselves fortunate that the game ended when it did.”
Peacock put up a fight in goal for UR and finished the game with five saves.

Emory moved up to No. 6 in the NSCAA poll this week with the victory and remains the only unbeaten team in its spot atop the UAA. The ‘Jackets are tied for second place with Washington University in St. Louis, while Carnegie fell into fourth place.

‘Our concentration and effort throughout both games was excellent,” Apple said of the weekend as a whole. ‘We created dangerous chances in both matches, and we limited two very good teams to a small handful of opportunities.”

On Sunday, the ‘Jackets will play their final nonconference game of the season at Kean College at noon. The following weekend, UR returns home for more UAA competition against Wash U and the University of Chicago, who is tied for fifth place in the league.

For Apple, this week will serve as ample time for his team to tune up in preparation for the last leg of the conference schedule.

‘We need to keep pushing ourselves to improve and refine,” Apple said. ‘We’ll work on fitness, passing, service, finishing and restarts and it will be very competitive.”

Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.

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