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NCAA bid hangs on final stretch

The Maroons look to continue their two-game winning streak this weekend.
On Friday, October 28, and Sunday, October 30, Chicago (8–4–2, 1–1–2) will face off against UAA rivals Case (11–2–2, 3–1) and Rochester (8–5, 2–2), respectively, at Stagg Field. With only three games remaining in the regular season, these two upcoming matches are critical in determining if the Maroons will see action in the NCAA D-III national tournament.
“We’re approaching every game just like it’s an NCAA tournament game,” second-year Katie Dana said.
“[Getting] into the NCAA tournament will be based on the rest of the season.”
With five UAA teams receiving bids to the national tournament in last year’s field of 63, and Chicago’s latest rank of 23rd in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll for D-III, the Maroons are hoping that they’ve demonstrated that they deserve to be in the tournament.
Yet with a 1–1–2 conference record, Chicago is currently in sixth place in the UAA standings. The team must win at least two of its final three matches to even have a chance at garnering the top spot in the UAA, given that Chicago is currently five points behind Emory (12–0–2, 3–0–1).
Right now, however, Chicago is only focusing on Friday’s game against 18th-ranked Case. The South Siders will use their 4–1–4–1 formation, with their offensive target being third-year Brigette Kragie or second-year Micaela Harms, to blank the Spartans.
“We have the same formation and the same starting 11 players for every game,” Dana said. “We don’t typically make adjustments based on the team we face. We try to make them adjust to us.”
The South Siders will rely on fourth-year forward Allison Hegel to finish off offensive sequences. Hegel boasts a team-leading seven goals.
On the other side of the field, Dana and Chicago’s defensive will have to contend with third-year midfielder Kendra Simmons, who has a team-leading six goals and 49 shots this season, 24 more shots than Hegel.
If the Maroons pull off the win on Friday, Dana said Chicago’s momentum will be greater going into Sunday’s match against Rochester.
“I do think that if we get a solid win in the Friday game, that might propel us for the Sunday game,” she said.
The Maroons will need all the momentum they can get against the Yellow Jackets, given that Rochester fourth-year forward Ellen Coleman is the UAA leader in shots with 67, and third in goals with eight. However, because the Maroons have only taken into consideration Friday’s game, Coleman has not been the center of discussion.
“[Head] coach [Amy Reifert] has mentioned her, but we haven’t discussed strategy for Rochester,” Dana said. “She’s just said, ‘[Coleman] is going to be there; she was there last year. She scored their goal against us last year.’”
The Maroons will begin their crucial stretch of games at 5:30 p.m. today against Case.

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