UR Field Hockey (URFH) finished their season making it to the Sweet-16 of the NCAA tournament, while Men’s Soccer (URMS) lost a hard fought tournament match against Eastern University.
URFH began their postseason with a 2–0 tournament win at home, against the Shenandoah University Hornets on Wednesday, and later fell 4–0 to the defending tournament champions, the Middlebury College Panthers, on saturday.
Going into the matchup against the Hornets, the Yellowjackets anticipated a challenge.
“We’ve been focused at practice, giving it 100% in preparation for the game,” sophomore midfielder Miranda Lakis said before the game. “We know it is going to be a battle.”
Coming off a tough loss against Skidmore, freshman midfielder Maya Haigis pointed out the strengths URFH exhibited despite the loss.
“We really rose to the occasion and played one of our best games yet. All of our passes were connecting, we hustled back on defense, and we maintained possession for most of the game,” she said.
URFH was hungry but patient against the opposing Hornets, taking 28 shots, two of which went in goal against the visiting team. Shenandoah, however, was mostly on the defense side of the ball, only shooting once in the full contest.
Stepping up for the ‘Jackets was freshman midfielder Colleen Maillie, who scored with 1:32 remaining in the first half to give UR the lead.
In the 61st minute, senior midfielder Sayaka Abe drove the ball to the goal, allowing for junior midfielder Samantha Dow to tap the ball into the upper part of the net, phasing senior Hornet goalkeeper Jessica Brown.
Although UR put offensive and defensive pressure on the Panthers, the ‘Jackets missed opportunities on penalty corners allowed for Middlebury to capitalize on what became a 4–0 Panther shutout.
UR’s opponent, ranked fourth overall in the NCAA Division III Coaches poll, implemented a strong defensive front, not allowing a UR shot in the second half.
It was Panther junior midfielder Annie Leonard who posed the greatest threat for the goalkeeping team of UR juniors Gabrielle Cantley and Kieran Sundaram. Leonard, the team’s leading scorer, put up three of the four goals scored by the Panthers.
Middlebury outshot URFH (12–4), but junior attack Claire Dickerson viewed this matchup as a massive learning curve.
“It’s a different style of play than what we’re used to, but as we gain more and more experience playing in the NCAA tournament, we are adapting and understanding what it takes,” she said. “Last year we played against another top-ranked team, Ursinus, in the Elite Eight, and to compare our play from last year to this year alone, I see huge improvement.”
On the Season
URFH ends their season finishing with a 18–5 record, which matches their winningest season in team history. The ‘Jackets played in back-to-back NCAA tournaments, which is a first for this program. This was in part due to the depth of the 2016 roster.
“This season, the depth of talent on our team was the greatest it’s ever been and it showed on the field—everyone made huge contributions and we surpassed expectations,” Dickerson said. “Looking at the talent in the classes below me, there is no doubt that UR will continue to return to the tournament in the future.”
URMS Falls Against Eastern
UR Men’s Soccer (URMS) fell to Eastern University 2–0 on Saturday at Oneonta State in the first round of the NCAA Division III postseason tournament.
Although the ‘Jackets outshot the Eastern Eagles (13–7), UR’s opponent capitalized on opportunities created by the 20 minutes of play when the ‘Jackets weren’t on their game.
“We started a little slow, and for the first 20 minutes, they were the better team,” head coach Chris Apple said.
Eastern’s first score came in the 24th minute off a corner kick, a statistic in which UR leads (4–2), as freshman Eagle defender Kaleb O’Neil sent the ball in from the left side, blindsiding sophomore UR goalkeeper Patrick Conway.
Junior midfielder Geoffrey Rouin, who led the ‘Jackets in shots (six) and shots on goal (three) created UR’s first scoring opportunity in the 18th minute, but Eagle goalie and junior Quentin Keibler intercepted the intended cross shot.
As the first half winded down, URMS missed another opportunity. Senior defender Zachary Kanaley released a powerful shot from the box’s edge, but the ball fell wide, leaving the ‘Jackets going into the halftime down a point.
Eagle goalkeeper Keibler had a strong performance all afternoon as he defended UR’s most threatening scoring opportunity. Early in the second half, after Rouin received a touch pass, the junior goalkeeper dove to his right to break up the Eagle midfielder’s shot from 12 yards out.
“Soccer’s a funny sport,” Apple said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to score. We hit the crossbar, the goalkeeper made three really good saves, and we missed a couple wide. You can be the better team and lose in our sport, it happens all the time.”
Aiding Keibler in retaining Eastern’s lead was sophomore forward Cade Harmon who found a hole in the UR defense after a turnover and proceeded to defeat Conway in a one-on-one.
Down 2–0 with 18 minutes left, the ‘Jackets turned up their offensive pressure. Senior midfielders Jeff Greblick and Ben Swanger attempted to keep UR’s chances of advancing alive, but their shots couldn’t reduce the lead.
Apple said that although the loss hurt, there were many positive aspects of this NCAA Division III tournament game, and he couldn’t be more pleased with this 2016 roster.
“I was really pleased with the way we controlled the second half,” he said. “It was like we ran out of time, honestly. I’ve been here for 16 years and I absolutely loved this group of players. The were extremely selfless and all about the team and each other. They just kept fighting, and kept believing, and kept pushing to get into the NCAA tournament, and that was really special.”