Close losses sour early play for women’s soccer

After tying Carthage and throttling DePauw, the Maroons dropped two consecutive matches

By Lori Knapp

With plenty of fresh young talent and a new team dynamic, the women’s soccer team is off to a strong start and looking forward to a competitive and successful season.

In their season debut on September 1, the Maroons tied Carthage 1–1. Third-year goalkeeper Emma Gormley led the team with a powerful performance between the posts that included seven saves. The team’s lone goal was scored by second-year Brigette Kragie, who headed in a free kick off the foot of fourth-year Emily Benoit.

The following Sunday, Chicago came out strong against DePauw, defeating the Tigers 6–0. The team’s offense was led by fourth-year Sarah Loh who scored four goals. Her performance tied the University of Chicago women’s soccer record, and moved her up to seventh on the all-time total goals scored list, with 24.

Highlighting the team’s young talent, first-year Natalia Jovanovic tied a club record with three assists in the game. Once again, Gormley had an impressive defensive performance, stopping four goal-bound shots for her first shutout of the season.

Since their dominating win over DePauw, the Maroons have fallen twice to ranked competition. On September 11, 15th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan slipped past Chicago 2–1, and three days later, a home-standing Calvin squad ranked 20th in the nation topped the Maroons 1–0 on the strength of a header that found net in the 30th minute.

The loss at Calvin dropped Chicago to 1–2–1 on the season.

With ten new first-years, strong performances like Jovanovic’s against DePauw will be key to success for this team, and returning players are confident that they can depend on the first-years to do their part.

“We only came back with a few starters from last year, and we lost some integral seniors, but the freshmen have completely filled their shoes and more,” said third-year Maggie Tobin, adding, “We all mesh really well together on and off the field.”

Forming a strong team dynamic is also crucial to the Maroons’ season. Chicago must settle into their new identity and learn to incorporate all of their new talent. Fourth-year captain Claire Denz has full faith that the team will do just that.

“We have a lot of great individual talent on the team,” Denz said, “but we have also been doing a great job finding combinations throughout the field and working as a team to create great opportunities.”

According to Denz, the team’s strength comes from the depth of its talent, with players coming off the bench just as strong as starters. Third-year Allison Hegel proved this against DePauw, coming off the bench to score an unassisted goal, capping the score in the 67th minute.

With the solid leadership displayed by the team’s upperclassmen, as long as the Maroons can depend on their first-years and their bench, the season promises to be an exciting and competitive one. Denz, for one, sees a lot of potential: “I couldn’t be happier to play my last year with this team, and I am expecting to have a great season.”