Continuing their stellar season this past weekend, men’s soccer competed in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament. The YellowJackets’ regular season record of 13-2-2 gave them the privilege to host a four-team regional to open the postseason. In the first round, UR faced off against the State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNY IT) while Oberlin College took on Oneonta State.
Against the SUNY IT Wildcats, the ’Jackets dominated from the start, controlling the ball for most of the game. Twenty-one minutes in, senior midfielder Max Fan scored UR’s first goal, heading in a cross from freshman forward Jeff Greblick, who hustled to outrun his defender and make the pass. While UR only led 1-0 at halftime, the first period was thoroughly dominated by the ’Jackets, allowing the Wildcats a meager two shots.
In the second half, UR continued to play smart, keeping the ball away from SUNY IT and preventing the visitors from any chance of scoring. As the game progressed, the two squads became increasingly testy, exchanging words after every foul. Tensions eventually reached a point where referees had to intervene, stopping play momentarily to regain control of the game and allow the tempers of players and fans to simmer down.
With approximately 20 minutes remaining, the Wildcats began to adjust their style of play, increasing their aggression and bringing more players downfield to try and score the equalizing goal. The Wildcats’ best opportunity came on a powerful shot from Matthew Wilday that sailed wide.
SUNY IT’s aggression turned into desperation, eventually causing its defense to break down and allowing UR’s Greblick to score a goal in the 88th minute.
In Saturday’s second game, the Oberlin College Yeomen took on SUNY Oneonta, with the former winning 2-0, setting up a second round matchup with the ’Jackets on Sunday evening.
“We had a good idea going into the game in terms of their tendencies and their top players,” head coach Chris Apple said.
The ’Jackets’ scouting appeared to pay serious dividends as the team again came out firing in the early stages, applying pressure immediately to the Yeomen, who played conservatively in the first half.
Greblick in particular made his presence felt, out-hustling defenders and creating several good opportunities to score for UR.
In the 12th minute, the ’Jackets’ aggression paid off, as Fan broke away from the defense to create a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, where he would calmly dribble close to the net and drive home the game’s first goal.
For the remainder of the half, UR controlled the ball, with the visitors struggling to create any chance of an offense.
The second half was more of the same, with UR continuing to control play, finding the net again in the 59th minute when junior forward Shane Dobles kicked in a great pass from Fan.
As the clock wound down, Oberlin began playing an ultra-aggressive style that created holes in their defense.
In the 75th minute, freshman Ben Swanger would take advantage, heading in the ‘Jacket’s third goal and crushing any hope Oberlin had of a comeback.
“I was especially pleased with our physical and mental toughness,” Apple said. “Neither game was easy, and in the difficult moments when things were not going our way, the boys showed real resolve.”
The pair of victories allows UR to advance to the Sweet 16, where they will face Montclair State University on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. The game will take place in Camden, N.J. on the campus of Rutgers University-Camden, the top seed in the northeast region.
“We plan to keep doing the things we do well.” Apple said. “This week will be about working hard to continue to improve and refine our strengths.”
Shapiro is a member of the class of 2016.