Five for Friday

Take a look at the week’s key story lines.

By Jake Walerius

1. Football faces biggest challenge yet

The Maroons face the Pacific University Boxers this Saturday in what should be the most difficult game of their season. The Boxers, like Chicago, are 5–1. Unlike Chicago, the Boxers are coming off of their first loss of the season, a nail-biting 17–16 defeat to No. 16 Pacific Lutheran, who kicked the winning field goal with two seconds left on the clock. The South Siders have defied expectations so far this year—they’ve already won more games than they did in all of 2012—but Saturday will mark the first time this season they’ve faced one of the elite teams in the country. The Pacific game will also be the Maroons’ last before UAAs. Don’t underestimate the impact a good performance could have on their chances in the conference tournament.

 2. Men’s soccer looks to bounce back, again

Chicago has beaten every nationally ranked team it has played this year, but lost each game following these wins. Once again, the Maroons find themselves reflecting on a disappointing defeat following an impressive victory. With only five games left to play in the regular season, the South Siders can’t afford any more slip-ups if they are going to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, and they will begin that quest this Saturday against a strong UW–Whitewater team. The Warhawks are 14–4 this season, and they will bring confidence from the home draw they earned against the Maroons last year. Still, this is one of the most important games of Chicago’s season, and if its past is anything to go by, it will come out firing. Non-conference games don’t come bigger than this.

3. Emotional night in store for volleyball 

The Maroons will play No. 5 Elmhurst and Alma College at the Morgan Buerkett Memorial this evening. After another accomplished performance in UAAs, in which they beat then–No. 4 Emory, Chicago will be hoping to knock off another ranked opponent in Elmhurst and earn some payback for its loss to the same squad back in August. Alma, although not in Elmhurst’s league, is riding a three-game winning streak and should present a significant challenge of its own. But tonight will be about far more important things than volleyball. The South Siders will be playing in memory of teammate Morgan Buerkett, who passed away following the 2010–11 school year. She would have been celebrating her own senior night this evening.

4. Women’s soccer can enjoy weekend off

It wasn’t so long ago that the Maroons looked down and out. After a tie with Carnegie Mellon and a loss against Emory in their first two UAA games of the year, things were not looking good for the South Siders. Now, two conference wins later and tied for third in the UAA, the picture has changed considerably. The overtime win against UW–Oshkosh on Wednesday, to make it three wins out of three, hasn’t hurt the team’s confidence either. Chicago can enjoy watching Brandeis and Wash U—two of its three remaining conference opponents, Emory being the third—play this weekend, knowing, for at least the next few days, the pressure is off.

5. Montefalco earns UAA recognition

Third-year linebacker Schuyler Montefalco was named UAA Defensive Player of the Week this week after another dominant performance in the homecoming game against Macalester in which he recorded one sack and nine tackles, including four tackles for a loss. Montefalco is now ranked third in the conference in tackles per game, averaging 8.5, and first in tackles for a loss, with the same number. Montefalco has been the cornerstone of a defense that has held its opponents to an average of 13 points this year. However, he will have to be at his best this weekend, if the Maroons are going to be successful against Pacific University, which is averaging just over 36 points a game this year.