NYU, Brandeis wins set up ultimate conference showdown

Women’s soccer sweeps final home conference weekend with wins over NYU and Brandeis.

By Zachary Themer

Over the past month, the No. 16 Maroons (13–3–1, 4–1–1 UAA) have fought tooth and nail to make a bid for not only an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but also the UAA Championship. In order to bolster their chances, the Maroons—looking like the Tigers from Kicking and Screaming—doubled down on their juice boxes this past weekend and set their sights on conference rivals NYU and Brandeis.

“In terms of how we approach a game, there is no difference in intensity between conference games and non-conference games,” said second-year defender Brenna Budd. “As the season progresses and we get into the conference games, however, we have built a lot of momentum.”

The first of Chicago’s games this past weekend was on Friday against NYU (11–5–1, 3–2–1) at Stagg Field. While the Violets came to the Midwest with hopes of starting a second Great Chicago Fire, their efforts were futile, as the Maroons eventually took the match with a score of 2–0 on the backs of a smothering defense and an explosive offense.

“In our first game against NYU, the weather was less than ideal. It was cold, windy, and there was a mixture of hail and snow coming down,” Budd said.

In violent elements of rain, snow, hail, and sleet, the Maroons were unfazed, as they used the wind behind their backs to fire 12 shots on NYU in the first half alone. Two of the shots found the goal, as third-year midfielder Nicole Mullen headed a ball into the net in the 25th minute and first-year forward Caroline Olivero doubled the advantage with a goal of her own in the 41st minute.

In the second half of the flooded, freezing affair, the Maroons were shooting into the wind and were only able to get one shot off in the half. However, the South Siders wouldn’t need any extra goals, as their stellar defense, backed by fourth-year goalies Mallory Morse and Jacinda Reid, held the Violets to zero goals. Chicago cruised to its third conference win of the year, improving to a 3–1–1 conference record.

After dispatching the NYU Violets like an unruly child on a tour of a chocolate factory, the Maroons set their sights on Brandeis (12–4–1, 2–3–1) in a Sunday showdown. Sunday was also Senior Day for the Maroons, so the match held high priority outside its conference and national tournament implications.

With extra motivation in hand, the Maroons wanted to rest their case early on against the Judges, and they did just that with a ferocious interrogation of the Brandeis’ defense, resulting in an 18th-minute goal courtesy of first-year midfielder Kelsey Moore. One goal apparently wasn’t enough to satisfy Moore, as she powered another one past Brandeis’s keeper to make the score 2–0 right before the end of the first half.

Riding a two-goal advantage into the second half, the Maroons had little reason to press the Judges any further. Instead, the South Siders fell back to their defense, which has been spectacular all season, allowing just .63 goals per game. When the game finally adjourned after 90 minutes of play, the Maroons had secured themselves a 2–0 victory, an all-important conference victory to improve to 4–1–1 in the UAA, and a parting gift for the team’s six seniors: forward Meghan Derken, midfielder Katharine Hedlund, midfielder Sara Kwan, defender Katie Shivanandan, Morse, and Reid.

“Coming off of our victories this weekend, we have the potential to end up [in] first place in our section,” Budd said.

After their successful weekend, the Maroons will spend this week preparing for a face-off on Saturday at No. 5 Wash U. With a win for Chicago on Saturday, and a loss for conference leader Carnegie Mellon, the Maroons will secure the conference championship.