Going into the match against Wheaton, the South Siders were looking forward to play a top D-III caliber team.
“I was excited because it’s always fun for me to play what people consider to be the best teams,” first-year foward Sara Kwan said. “I knew that our team is as good as any other team whenever we play well, and I was focused on just playing my best and putting in my best effort.”
In the first half, the Maroons efforts on the defensive end were put to the test. Wheaton out-shot the South Siders 7–4.
But Chicago capitalized on their few opportunities on the offensive side.
With just under 34 minutes played in the half, a throw-in by second-year Beatrice Hobson landed on the feet of Kwan. Kwan outran her defender and surged in to the top corner of Wheaton’s box, about 10 yards away from the goal.
Kwan crossed the ball perfectly to second-year forward Kat Konstantinoff, who punched the ball in for the only score of the half.
With the halftime score being 1–0, the Maroons were primed to upset one of the best teams in the country.
“I was pretty confident that we were going to hold our lead because we were playing well, but I knew that if we lost focus that we could potentially lose the game,” Kwan said.
The second half did not start off on the right foot for Chicago. Only five minutes in, Wheaton’s Jamie Orewiler scored an unassisted goal inside of the box.
Ten minutes later, with just under 30 minutes remaining in the match, Wheaton’s Annie Hamilton shot a ball off the post and past the arms of the Maroons fourth-year goalkeeper Emma Gormley.
The shot proved to be the game winner.
Kwan believes that her prediction about focus before halftime determined the course of the second half.
“Throughout the second half, we were playing well, but I feel like we lost some of the intensity that we had in the first half,” she said. “I think that we lost some focus throughout some of the game, and I feel like that is the reason we gave up two goals.”
For Saturday’s UAA opener against Emory, the Maroons plan to play the same way they did the entire first half against Wheaton.
“On Saturday, we plan to play the same way we are playing but with greater intensity and more focus,” Kwan said.
Fourth-ranked Emory boasts an undefeated 6–0–1 record, with only one goal allowed in seven games.
Yet, both teams have a lot on the line. Emory hopes to remain undefeated, and the Maroons want to defend their UAA championship season of last year.
“We have a lot to live up to because we are last year’s UAA champs, and the [Maroons] have never won back to back years,” fourth-year defender Maggie Tobin said. “We would love to make history and seal our spot in the [NCAA D-III national] tournament.”
The Maroons hope this match leads to a great start in the conference season.
“We have an extremely young team this year, but everyone has stepped up to the plate and filled big shoes,” Tobin said. “We are going to focus on ourselves in the conference, and as long as our team plays passionately and smartly, we can beat any team out there.”
The Maroons play this Saturday at Stagg field at 1:30 p.m.