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Streaks broken for men’s and women’s soccer

By Curtis Zunyu He

Section: Sports

October 17, 2014

For the ongoing UAA conference season, 11 is the most dramatic number for the men’s and women’s soccer teams. The Judges suffered tough losses, ending a precious 11-game winning streak. The streaks were snapped on the same day by the Rochester Yellowjackets at Sahlen Stadium. The surprising sting from the Yellowjackets, with a 6-3-2 record for the men’s team and 5-4-3 record for the women’s team, wounded the Judges badly, resulting in a 2-1 loss for men’s soccer and a 2-0 loss for women’s soccer.

Physicality clearly became the main factor for Rochester and allowed them to successfully restrain the Judges’ offense. Only one goal was scored, by Foti Andreo ’15 for the men’s team, and nothing was achieved for the scoreboard on the women’s side.

Six yellow cards were issued in total for the game between the Judges and the Yellowjackets, which exceeded the number of penalty cards in any other game for the Judges this season. Although the team seemed to have survived the brutal contest with pretty even shots on goals and corner kicks, two early yellow cards were issued to the core player of the midfield, Josh Ocel ’17, and to the tall pivotal defender, Conor Lanahan ’16, in the first half. The Yellowjackets capitalized on the Judges’ misfortune, scoring both of their goals in the second half by Ben Swanger ’16 and Andrew Fafinski ’17 and effectively held off the Judges’ offense for 86 minutes.

“The active attacks from the midfield is very important for our game play because if the midfielders do not get up it creates a giant gap in the field…” Ocel said, describing what was lost for the Judges in Saturday’s game. None of the midfielders were able to execute a shot on goal in the game. Without the 100 percent aggressiveness from the midfielders, it was too difficult for the Judges to escape from Rochester with their streak surviving.

However, this “giant gap” in the midfield during the game mentioned by Ocel can possibly be filled by the return of Michael Soboff ’15, who is the top scorer for the Judges. Soboff has been suffering from a foot injury since the victory against MIT and will hopefully come back to Gordon field this weekend. “We are missing Soboff’s physical presence. He brings so much energy to the team and can change a game on his own. His attacking mentality is like no one else’s on the team,” said Mike Lynch ’17. The Judges hope that Soboff’s return will help energize the midfield in the games against strong opponents like Carnegie Mellon University and Emory University this weekend, if he recovers in time.

For women, the physicality of the match was demonstrated by the large number of fouls committed by the Rochester Yellowjackets women’s team. They had 19 fouls, compared to only eight on the Judges side. The midfield brain of the team, Holly Szafran ’16 was certainly a bit astonished by the physicality and drive presented in the opponent. She said, “Before UAAs began, we never were really tested against a physical team, and Rochester was very very physical.” However, Szafran maintains a positive attitude towards the loss and is still satisfied with the team’s performance. “We were the smarter team on the field during the game and kept our composure; they just had more drive to win that game, and that is why we are learning from our mistakes and moving on. I think we dealt with the physicality of Rochester really well, we just have to be as hungry as them to score and we will be a very successful team,” said Szafran.

Although the Judges’ offense switch seemed to be in full gear, outshooting Rochester 11-7, with more earned corner kicks, the momentum wasn’t successfully converted to scores. “We need to capitalize on the few chances we may have in tough games and need to take advantage of free kicks and corner kicks, as we can be very dangerous on set plays but unfortunately didn’t capitalize them against Rochester,” stated Szafran. The fouls committed upon the Judges players can, in the future, be turned into free kick opportunities, which are fairly precious during close games. So, hopefully, improved set plays from these free kicks can become a new weapon for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams.

After the reality check by Rochester, the Judges women’s and men’s teams will host Carnegie Mellon University and Emory University this weekend. “Anyone on any given day can beat each other,” said Lynch. Szafran stated, “We are now ready to play in a tough UAA weekend.”

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