It was a collective effort that propelled the UR men’s soccer team to a 3-0 victory over the Kean University Cougars this past Sunday.
Junior forward J.J. Dennstedt led the charge for the ‘Jackets on offense, setting up one goal and scoring another.
Defensively, the UR team as a whole stymied the Kean offense.
‘Kean had some very good individuals and a bunch of guys who loved to dribble,” head coach Chris Apple said. ‘Our team defense was able to close them down, cause turnovers and jump-start our attack.”
Juniors Michael Peacock and Brandon Campbell split time in goal to earn the shutout. Peacock made three saves before halftime, and Campbell had one save in the second half.
In the past five games, UR’s tough defense has allowed only one goal.
The Yellowjackets opened the scoring 30 minutes into the match, when junior defender Phil Proud played a ball to Dennstedt, who headed the ball ahead for junior forward Cliff White. White one-timed the ball past Cougar goalie Alfredo Oquendo to give UR the advantage going into halftime.
Dennstedt added an insurance goal 10 minutes into the second half. After beating his defender on the wing, he dribbled down along the end line and attempted to play the ball in front of goal. Instead, the pass bounced off a Kean defender and into the goal. The score was Dennstedt’s eighth of the season. He leads the team in both goals and assists.
The final score came in the 84th minute, when sophomore midfielder Steve Gilmer played a ball into the box off a corner kick. The ball was flicked ahead to junior midfielder Kevin McDonald, who slid to push the ball past the Kean goalie and give UR a commanding advantage in the final minutes of play.
Apple was very pleased with the team’s effort offensively.
‘Our central players did a good job finding the flanks and our wide players got behind the Kean defense time and time again with their speed and one-versus-one play,” Apple said.
The ‘Jackets improved to 10-2-2 overall with the win and remain in second place in the University Athletic Association.
This weekend, UR which moved up six spots to No. 11 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll this week returns to conference play, taking on the Golden Bears of Washington University in St. Louis on Friday in Fauver Stadium.
The Bears are ranked No. 13 in this week’s NSCAA poll, are 11-3-1 overall and are tied with UR for second in the UAA. Last year, UR traveled to St. Louis and played 110 minutes before tying the game, 1-1.
On Sunday, the ‘Jackets play host to the University of Chicago, which sits in a tie for fifth place in the UAA with a 5-7-3 record.
UR’s final game of the regular season will be the following weekend, when it takes on Case Western Reserve University on Nov. 8 in Fauver Stadium. Case Western is tied with Chicago for fifth place in the UAA and boasts an 11-4-1 record overall.
According to Apple, his team is in top form going into a weekend of high-caliber competition.
‘I like the team spirit right now, and we are playing our best soccer of the season going into the final few games,” he said. ‘This is right where we want to be.”
Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.