The Maroons won their UAA opener on Saturday, defeating previously undefeated and second-ranked Carnegie Mellon 2–1 in stunning fashion at the end of double overtime as first-year Sam Duffield threaded a ball to fourth-year Alex Clifford who buried a ball in the back of the net.
Following a scoreless first half, Carnegie (8-1, 0-1) took the lead on a header that straddled the goal line as a result of swirling winds.
Chicago tied the match when third-year Alan Pikna blasted a 35-yard free kick past the Tartans’ goalie, who finished the day with ten saves.
With time winding down in the contest, Duffield played the ball through the midfield to Clifford, who scored his second goal of the season on the ensuing breakaway to give the Maroons (7-3, 1-0) the upset victory.
Third-year Chris Giusto collected a pair of saves as the Maroons outshot Carnegie Mellon 21-14, including a 9-0 count in the two overtime periods.
Carnegie, known as a big, physical, and athletic team, is capable of scoring in bunches and tends to command games by throwing midfielders into the attack.
Chicago, however, was prepared for the Tartans’ strategy. Duffield started up top for Chicago, alongside third-year Stanton Coville, shifting Clifford to midfield for much of the game and giving the Maroons some height against the Carnegie defense.
The poor weather certainly played a part in the game. It rained for over half of the game, affecting the pitch and flow of the game as a southern wind gusted. In the first half and first overtime, it was at the backs of Carnegie.
At halftime, neither team had scored. Wiercinski made a tactical change, choosing to keep Clifford as the lone striker, withdrawing Coville into the midfield to contend with Carnegie’s strength there. As a result, the game soon shifted in Chicago’s favor.
Carnegie’s goal was laid off to the top-left corner of the box, where the left back one-timed it as hard as he could. The ball seemed to travel about 15 yards over the bar, as Giusto turned to watch it fly onto 55th street. Strangely, however, the ball died in the wind and began to change directions in midair before bouncing right in the six-yard box for Carnegie midfielder Kyle Young to head home.
The first Chicago goal came soon after. Pikna had a free kick from about 35 yards out in the left wing. He curled the ball beautifully with his right foot into the upper far corner of the net. The Carnegie goalkeeper was caught a little bit off his line as the ball carried with the wind.
After the Maroons made their tactical adjustment, Carnegie surrendered a number of free kicks, one on which Chicago was finally able to capitalize.
The game went into double overtime, still tied at 1-1.
The Maroons played strong defense throughout the game. Chicago’s back line played phenomenally, especially central defenders Rashad Masri and Ryan Tunstall.
With just seven matches for each team in the UAA, every goal and result counts, and Chicago’s win, combined with draws by Rochester, Wash U, and Emory, put the Maroons in a strong starting position.
With an important win under their belts, the Maroons still face a difficult schedule in one of the nation’s top conferences. Chicago plays its first away game of the conference schedule Saturday, traveling to ninth-ranked Emory (9–0–1, 0–0–1), before heading to 14th-ranked Rochester (6–0–4, 0–0–1) next weekend.
Although men’s soccer anticipates a difficult schedule, the upcoming forecast looks promising.