Facing a pair of D-I foes, men’s soccer closed out its spring season Sunday with a doubleheader of truncated games at Loyola University. Taking on UW–Milwaukee and Northwestern in a pair of 60-minute games allowed head coach Scott Wiercinski to evaluate the fitness of his team as well as try out new formations and a number of potential walk-on players.
The first game of the evening pitted the South Siders against the Panthers, participants in five of the last six NCAA tournaments. Without record-setting fourth-year Keith Crum and injured second-year Micah Gruber between the sticks, first-year goalkeeper Sean Beyers was on hand to make a crucial save for the Maroons, keeping the scoreline tied at zero all. Although the game ended without either team breaking through, Chicago more than held its own against a larger, stronger opponent.
After a 20-minute break, the Maroons were ready to go against a better-rested Northwestern squad, who had played earlier in the afternoon. The Wildcats, who made a surprise run to the NCAA Elite Eight last fall, used their speed and size to dominate a young and largely experimental Chicago midfield.
The Maroons had difficulties marking against the quick Northwestern attack and leaked a goal in the first half, followed by three more late in the game with fatigure beginning to play a factor. Fighting cramps and fitness issues throughout both games, the Maroons were at an automatic disadvantage against the DI teams, both of which had already spent months in training and played a full set of scrimmages.