PRINCE ATHLETIC COMPLEX – The University of Rochester men's soccer team scored two goals just 40 seconds apart in the second half, earning a 2-1 victory over Brandeis University in a key UAA conference matchup on Sunday afternoon at Edwin Fauver Stadium.
Seniors Josh Cooley and Zach Lawlor celebrated their senior day in style, scoring the Yellowjackets goals. UR moves to 11-5 on the season and 3-3 in the UAA, vaulting the Yellowjackets up into third place in the conference standings. Brandeis drops to 9-5-4 overall and 2-3-1 in the UAA.
Sunday's matchup was a big one in terms of potential at-large selection into the NCAA Division III Tournament, with both teams sitting in the top-5 of their respective regional rankings. UR entered as #4 in the East, while Brandeis was #5 in the New England.
The visiting Judges had their chances, outshooting UR 23-9, including 10-3 in shots on frame, but Rochester goalkeeper Hugh Curran and the UR defense made some key saves. Curran finished with career-high seven saves in the win.
The first save of the game came courtesy of UR defender Will Eisold in the 11th minute. Curran came way out of his net in an attempt to save a ball from heading over the endline, but sent it back in play to Brandeis' Will DeKnight. DeKnight settled and then fired a shot from the edge of the box towards the low left corner of the net, only to see Eisold slide in and clear the ball away at the last second.
UR's first shot of the game saw Brandeis keeper Greg Irwin make his lone save of the contest on Aidan Miller in the 15th minute. Miller had a hard header attempt grabbed out of the air by Irwin following Mouhammed Thiam's free kick from midfield.
Four minutes later, Brandeis took a 1-0 lead. Alex Walter scored the go-ahead goal on a tough angle header at the back post following a corner kick from teammate Dylan Hennessy. It was Walter's first goal of the season and Hennessy's team leading fifth assist.
In the second half, Brandeis started quick, earning a corner in the 49th minute, with Hennessy's attempt nearly curling in at the near post, but Rochester defender Tommy Nelson jumped to clear the ball off the line, preventing a two goal lead for the Judges.
Rochester then got on the board late in the 54th minute to even the score. Mitch Volis gained possession along the left sideline and slipped a pass into the box for Cooley. Cooley then struck a curling shot from 10 yards with his left foot, which had just enough momentum on it to sneak over the goal line and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Forty seconds later, it was 2-1 Rochester. Tony Hypsher started a UR run up the right sideline, sending a ball through the middle of the field to Lawlor. The senior chipped a shot over Irwin's head but missed the goal initially, seeing his shot rattle off the crossbar. The ball bounced right back to Lawlor who weaved around Irwin and a Judges defender and ripped a shot into the low right for what would be the deciding goal.
The second UR goal seemed to light a fire in Brandeis though, as the Judges offense kicked into high gear, with the visitors earning five corners and six shots in the next 12 minutes.
Curran made a number of strong saves in the stretch, including a point-blank chance off the foot of Elias Norris in the 58th minute.
A few minutes later, Isaac Mukala had two solid scoring chances after just entering the game as a sub. At 62:31, Nelson made a key block of Mukala's shot from 15 yards on the right wing. On the ensuing corner kick, Mukala got a shot off at the edge of the crease on the left side, but was denied by Curran in goal.
Offensively in the second half after the goals, UR had two other solid opportunities to score. In the 62nd minute Eisold headed a shot at the far post off a corner wide right. At 79:16, Colin Canning nearly scored in his second straight game, chipping a ball over Irwin towards an open net, but his shot trickled just outside the right post.
This was the penultimate game of the regular season for both sides. Rochester heads on the road next Saturday, playing at Emory in a UAA match, while Brandeis hosts conference rival NYU the same day.