In a physical game that went well past regulation time and into a cold autumn night on Saturday, Nov. 10, the Yellowjackets eked out a narrow victory over 12-6-3 Misericordia University that came down to a sudden-death penalty kick shootout.
With the win, the men’s team moved on to the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs against Susquehanna University, where they were shut down 1-0 by the host Crusaders.
The Yellowjackets dominated play against Misericordia throughout the game, outshooting the Cougars 17-10 and taking eight corners to their opposition’s one, yet had little to show for the effort, as the Cougars struck first midway through the second half.
Misericordia midfielder Dan Pinto took a long shot from 25 yards away, just evading the reach of the ’Jackets’ senior goalie Scott Garfing.
The Yellowjackets scrambled to catch up with a flurry of shots, but were unsuccessful. It seemed as if a terrific season — one that saw the yellow and blue finish a stellar 9-3-4 (3-1-3 in the University Athletic Association) — was about to come to a close.
Enter sophomore forward Alex Swanger, who capitalized on a Misericordia yellow card with just five minutes left in regulation by blasting the ball by Cougars’ goalkeeper Barry Fitzgerald and into the left corner of the net to draw even.
The teams battled back and forth in the waning moments of regulation, ensuring an overtime matchup.
Resuming where his teammate left off, sophomore forward Jack Thesing made a stab at the net with just 40 seconds remaining in the first overtime. Thesing’s header deflected off the crossbar, and, after a second overtime failed to yield a victor, both teams lined up for a nerve-wracking shootout: winner survives to see another game, loser goes home.
Senior defender Andrew Roberts opened for the Yellowjackets and fooled Fitzgerald to put the yellow and blue up, 1-0. Despite reading the shot by Misericordia forward Andy Bush correctly, Garfing was unable to block his shot, evening the tally, 1-1. Senior midfielder Sean Coyne, sophomore defender Ben Keeton, Swanger and Thesing all added to the ’Jackets total, but their performances were mirrored by three successful Cougar attempts.
With the squads tied in shootout points, 4-4, the fate of both teams’ seasons was to be determined by a sudden death-style shootout, in which the first team to score without a successful rebuttal on the opposition’s part would emerge victorious.
Unlike the rest of the game, this portion of the match was decided early, as a confident Thesing, the first UR shooter, swiftly drove the ball by Fitzgerald. With the game on the line, the Cougars’ Nick vonEgypt missed the net completely, sealing a second-round berth for the Yellowjackets.
UR took on the Crusaders on their home turf the following Sunday, Nov. 11. After battling 15th-ranked Susquehanna to a blank tally for much of the first half, the hosts managed a miraculous last-ditch effort with seven seconds remaining in the period when defender Sean Raffetto fired from just over midfield. The ball sailed into the net, giving the Crusaders all they would need to send the Yellowjackets home.
Despite the score, the ’Jackets ran the Crusaders all around the field, outshooting Susquehanna, 19-8, including 9-2 on goal. UR kept Crusaders’ goalie Matt Salsman busy in the net, forcing him to make nine saves (as compared to one on the part of Garfing), while the Warriors committed more fouls (nine) and received more yellow cards (two) than the ’Jackets.
Despite the frustrating loss, UR finishes a strong 10-4-4 on the season.
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014.