Time to tango—With season on the line, South Siders to put “best foot forward”

By Leah Von Essen

The South Siders are ready to take control. After consecutive 2–1 losses against Emory and Carnegie Mellon, the Maroons (7–4, 0–2) are preparing to defend their home turf against conference leader Brandeis (10–1–1, 1–0–1).

The Maroons’ most recent game against Carnegie was particularly disappointing. Chicago fell to a 2–1 defeat after failing to convert a host of first half chances.

“We could’ve played harder than we did,” head coach Amy Reifert said. “We’ve worked super hard in practice all week trying to become a better team, focusing on winning individual battles and trying to become the best team on the field.”

The Maroons will need all of that spirit against Brandeis, which currently boasts the best record in the UAA. The Judges’ record of 10 clean sheets in their last 12 games is particularly intimidating, but first-year forward Mary Bittner says that Chicago’s offense is more than ready to face off against Brandeis’s strong back line.

“Basically we are going to do everything in our power to get a victory,” she said, “so we are going to be composed and finish every possible opportunity we’ve got.”

Led by fourth-year Brigette Kragie, recently named Player of the Week by the UAA, and second-year Sara Kwan, scorer of seven goals already this season, the Maroons’ offense certainly should be able to crack Brandeis’ defense.

Brandeis, however, is not short on attacking options of its own, with second-year Dara Spital the standout. Six of her eight goals this year have been game-winners.

“Their top three up top are very dangerous,” Reifert said. “Their top three strikers, including #33 (Spital), are very talented and work well together, so we need to be organized, communicate well, and work to win one v. one battles with those kids that go to goal.”

The Maroons will have to recover quickly—whatever the result this afternoon—as they face NYU on Sunday.

The Violets, who play at Wash U today before coming to Chicago, have had a rough time with their St. Louis-Chicago doubleheader in the past. Even so, NYU is currently the highest scoring team in the UAA, averaging four goals a game.

Every goal matters to the Maroons now, whose current point tally places them second-to-last in the conference. The games against Brandeis and NYU will have a serious impact on their UAA aspirations.

“Our only chance to even compete is to win the rest of our games,” Reifert said. “For us it really is a do-or-die situation, so we have to perform.”

“We’ve got to win, and that’s pretty much the only thing we’re focusing on,” Bittner said. “We’re going to put our best foot forward.”

The Maroons kick off against the Judges today at 3 p.m. at Stagg Field. Their game against NYU will start at 10:30 a.m. at the same location on Saturday.