Junior midfielder Jimmy Parrinello’s return to the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon against North Carolina Wesleyan College could not have been more opportune for the UR men’s soccer team. Just over 63 minutes of play had expired when Parrinello, who had been out since the beginning of October with a broken arm, connected on a pass from senior forward J.J. Dennstedt, putting the ball past N.C. Wesleyan goalie Philip Uttikal to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead en route to a 3-2 victory.
‘The first goal was very important,” head coach Chris Apple said. ‘We had created several good chances and come up short prior to that point and our defense was playing very strong, so at that point I thought we could win the game, 1-0.”
Just three minutes later, however, UR ranked No. 11 by the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll doubled their lead when senior defender Timmer McCarthy bent a corner kick into the back of the net. A mere three minutes after that strike, McCarthy was involved in setting up another Yellowjacket goal, chipping a ball into the box for junior forward Chris Blivin, who headed it past Uttikal to provide UR with a three-goal cushion that proved large enough to withstand an offensive flurry late in the game from the Bishops.
‘We had the pressure on them for most of the first half but could not score,” senior goalie Michael Peacock said. ‘We hit the post, were just wide and just over a few times. In the second half, we came out ready to finish and we did.”
The Yellowjackets knew they would have their hands full against N.C. Wesleyan on Sunday, as they travelled to a neutral site Penn Manor High School in Philadelphia, Pa. for their fourth-consecutive road game. The Bishops, who boasted a deceivingly average 8-6 record entering the contest, are perennially tough. Last season, they advanced into the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament before losing to Emory University coincidentally UR’s opponent when it returns home this Friday.
‘[N.C. Wesleyan] has great individual players from all over the world,” Apple said. ‘They are extremely skillful, very good passers and they move really well off the ball.”
Entering the game against UR on Sunday, that offensive prowess really began to click the Bishops had scored 28 goals in their last six games. But UR’s defensive line stayed strong for most of the matchup on Sunday. Peacock made three saves in 81 minutes, not allowing a goal until the ‘Jackets had already put the game out of reach. Senior goalkeeper Brandon Campbell preserved the win for the final nine minutes of play, only allowing a goal when 53 seconds remained in the game.
It was just the second time this season that the UR defense has allowed more than one goal in a game.
UR improved to 10-1-2 with just three games remaining in the regular season and will face its toughest weekend to date when it hosts Emory and Carnegie Mellon University on Friday night and Sunday, respectively.
Emory was last year’s University Athletic Association champion, while Carnegie Mellon currently 13-1 and No. 13 in the NSCAA poll presently sits atop the conference standings.
Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.