The toughest road is ahead for the men’s soccer team, as they will compete in the NCAA tournament. The men will face Medaille College of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference in the first round this Saturday.
The men travel to host Swarthmore College this weekend with confidence, as they ended the regular season with a convincing win against Case Western Reserve University last Saturday. The offense knocked Case Western around, scoring four goals all coming 40 minutes or later in the game.
“We are excited to be heading to the NCAA [tournament],” head coach Chris Apple said. “[We] will work hard this week to keep getting better and really fine-tuning our attack and tightening up our defense.”
Freshman midfielder Max Fan started off the scoring against their University Athletic Association rivals last Saturday, with only minutes left in the first half, off junior defender Tom Sorrentino’s throw-in. From there, the flood gates opened and everything seemed to find the net. Senior midfielder Steve Welles, senior forward Chris Blivin and sophomore forward Jacob Findlay all scored in the latter half of the match to put the final touches on their last regular season game.
The defense also stepped up, allowing just eight total shots, with only one of them being on goal. Defenders senior Misha Carrel-Thomas and junior Jake Cargill provided a strong base for the team to work off.
“We played very well against Case, created numerous chances and scored some great goals,” Apple said. “We also played tough, organized team defense and limited Case’s chances.”
With that final win, the Yellowjackets improved to 3-2-2 in the UAA conference and 10-2-5 overall. They finished tied with Emory University for third place in the conference behind Washington University in St. Louis and champions New York University.
With the NCAA tournament selection show coming midday Monday, the men show hope that their regular season resumé was enough to convince the NCAA tournament bracket experts to give them a chance. When the 60-team bracket finalized, the men were awarded an at-large bid and a chance to win it all for the sixth-straight year.
“Finishing off the regular season with a convincing 4-0 win was great,” Carrel-Thomas said. “It was not guaranteed that we would make the NCAA tournament prior to the Case game. But after a display like that, it was a much easier decision to put UR into the tournament.”
In their bracket stands last year’s champion and UR-wide hated Messiah College. Over the past three seasons, Messiah has knocked the Yellowjackets out of the tournament three times. Their most notable game against UR was a 2-1 victory last season in the Elite 8. The score was tied for most of the game until, with less than five minutes left, Messiah scored off an unbalanced shot.
The Yellowjackets are also not looking past an impressive Medaille, who is 15-4-2 in regular season play. Medialle took second place in the AMCC with a 7-2 conference record, only behind powerhouse Pennsylvania State Behrend.
“Getting past Medaille will require everyone on the team to just focus only on Medaille,” Carrel-Thomas said. “If we begin to look past Medaille we will surely not play up to our potential and will struggle mightily. If we bring the concentrated effort that we did against Case, Medaille is going home Saturday night.”
Manrique is a member of the class of 2012.