UR advances to Sweet 16

Redd Brown stopped a penalty kick with just 61 seconds on the clock to preserve the win. (Photo courtesy of U of R Athletic Communications)

Courtesy of UofRAthletics.com

ONEONTA, N.Y. – Redd Brown and Alex Di Perna produced dramatic plays in the last six minutes as as the University of Rochester stunned sixth-ranked SUNY Oneonta, 2-1, in the second round of the NCAA Division III men’s soccer playoffs.

Di Perna broke a 1-1 tie with 6:06 left in regulation and Brown made it stand up with a huge save of a penalty kick with just 61 seconds on the clock.

Rochester moves into the Sweet 16 round of the tournament next weekend at a site to be determined. The Yellowjackets will be paired against Amherst College. Amherst moved past Springfield on penalty kicks on Sunday (2-0) after a 0-0 tie through two overtimes.

UR improved to 13-3-3 overall. The Yellowjackets defeated Connecticut College, 2-1, in overtime in the first round on Saturday. Oneonta finished 15-2-3. The host Red Dragons defeated WPI on penalty kicks on Saturday after a 0-0 tie through two OTs.

Down 2-1 in the dying moments of the match, Oneonta sent attackers in waves, looking for any opening in the visiting defense. Rochester’s Stefan Sarkovich earned a yellow for a foul deep in his attacking end with less than two minutes to go. The ball was played upfield quickly. In a cluster of players just inside the area and the ball bouncing around, Rochester was whistled for a handball and the penalty kick awarded.

The task of netting the equalizer fell to Santangelo. With the crowd of more than 300 OSU fans cheering, he aimed for the low left corner. Brown dove, got a hand on it, and pushed it against the face of the post where it deflected into open space. A Rochester defender kicked it downfield.

“We told our guys before the game that in order to beat Oneonta it was going to take extra effort plays,” said Rochester Head Coach Chris Apple.  “That save by Redd was just one example of the extra effort that our players showed all match long.”

Di Perna figured in both of Rochester’s goals – and nearly figured into a third score. UR was awarded a penalty kick in the first half when Josh Cooley was taken down in the box as he moved laterally to create shooting space for himself. Di Perna lined the ball into the goal, but it was waived off by the referee who ruled that the shot came before he whistled the ball ready for play and the kick had to be retaken.

On the re-kick, he tried to go the same way, but Oneonta keeper Nicholas Giordano was able to smother it.

About a minute before the PK, Geoffrey Rouin crossed the ball from the wing, got it back, and cracked a shot off the left post. It came back to him and he headed the ball wide. In the ensuing scramble, Zach Lawlor‘s header was blocked.

The second half was played at a high-level pace with both teams battling to get onto the scoreboard. Two minutes in, Rouin made a run down the left wing and whipped a cross in front that was just beyond Di Perna’s reach. Oneonta’s Corey Santangelo had a chance to snap the deadlock two minutes after that. The ball was lofted to him about equal with the left post, 10 yards off the end line. His soft header drifted agonizingly outside the right post.

Oneonta kept up the pressure and Rochester held on. A shot by Jorge Hernandez was blocked, Whitman Hernandez’ shot cleared off the line, and Kevin Hoff lined one wide.

Less than a minute later, a missed marking assignment by the Red Dragons led to the Rochester goal and a 1-0 lead. Di Perna crossed the ball from right wing to Mitch Volis, unmarked on the left side of the box. He dribbled in, picked his spot, and drove the ball beyond Giordano’s reach into the top right corner.

“We actually work on getting our wingers to make those crosses and be more aggressive,” commented Apple.  “Both of these teams have great wingers and strong midfielders who can get the ball to the wingers to create opportunities.”

Oneonta kept pushing. A hard shot by Roberto Ventura on the turn at the edge of the area was saved and covered by Brown in the 56th minute. Shortly thereafter, the ball was steered into the center of the box and Santangelo volleyed over the crossbar.

The equalizer came in the 67th minute. Luke Osovski lifted a free kick from just inside the touchline into the right half of the box and Kevin Huff headed it inside the left post.

Rochester blocked an indirect free kick at the top of the box with 20 minutes to go and not long after, a bouncing ball inside the box had to be fisted over the bar by Brown to award corner – which proved to be harmless.

Hoff was booked in the 75th minute for a foul. Rouin collected a ball over midfield and turned to push it past his defender. As he moved past the defender to speed at goal, he was pulled down. Another yellow was issued nine minutes later under somewhat similar circumstances; Rochester was just about to break clear and a foul was committed, earning a caution for Timothy Hoffman.

That resulted in a free kick when play was restarted. The kick went into the middle of the box and the Oneonta defense cleared it to the (attacking) left side. Volis chipped it back into the middle and Di Perna headed it off the inside of the right post and into the goal.

“It can be a cruel game at times, and it is going to be a long winter for us,” commented Oneonta Head Coach Iain Byrne.  “We played well today and there were some great performances, but it was not our day. Rochester is a top team and we wish them well moving onto the sectionals.”

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