3–2 double OT defeat ends Maroons’ tourney run

The women’s soccer team ended its postseason run at home last Saturday with a loss to Illinois Wesleyan in the Sweet 16.

By Michael Cheiken

The Maroons took the pitch on Saturday morning, looking to avenge a loss from earlier this season against the Illinois Wesleyan Titans, while simultaneously claiming a spot in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Chicago absolutely dominated the time of possession in the first half. Illinois Wesleyan rarely had the ball in their attacking third. However, against the run of play, the Titans were able to send a cross into the Maroons penalty area and managed to find the back of the net on one play, giving them a 1–0 lead.

The goal motivated the Titans. They kept attacking, and in the 43rd minute, the Maroons were called for a hand ball in the box.

Illinois Wesleyan’s penalty shot ricocheted off the right post, and each side rushed to retrieve the rebound as it trickled along the goal line. A Titan got there first and was able to put the ball into the back of the net, sending Illinois Wesleyan into the half with a 2–0 lead.

The second half didn’t see too many changes—Chicago dominated possession but did not really seem too threatening. That was until the 63rd minute, when third-year forward Julia Ozello forced the Titan’s keeper to make her first save of the game.

It was here that the Maroon attack was ignited. Just a minute later, first-year forward Mia Calamari sent a perfectly weighted through ball to the streaking first-year forward Madori Spiker, who tucked the ball past the Titan goalkeeper to halve the lead to 2–1.

As the Titans were feeling the pressure, the Maroons kept their foot on the gas pedal and tied the game just three minutes later in the 67th minute. Calamari played a corner into the box, and a veritable scrum ensued. With two Titan players on the ground, first-year defender Kaitlin Price found the ball at her feet and put a shot into the back of the net.

From this point on, the game was pretty choppy. In the last 10 minutes of regulation time, two Maroons and one Titan were all awarded yellow cards. No more goals occurred, sending the game into overtime.

The Maroons continued their attacking play in the first overtime period, having opportunity after opportunity to put the game away. In the final minute of the first overtime period, the Maroons won a free kick just outside the penalty area.

Third-year midfielder Naomi Pacalin stepped up to take the shot. She put the ball on frame with enough power that the Titan goalkeeper was unable to hold on to the ball. The Maroons found the short rebound at their feet but were unable to seal the game with a goal, and the teams switched sides to begin the second overtime period.

Five minutes into the second overtime period, the Maroons won a corner kick. The goalkeeper made a save on Kaitlin Price’s header, and began the counterattack. Streaking down the left sideline, the Titans managed to put a cross into the middle. Fourth-year goalkeeper Mallory Morse came out to field the ball but couldn’t quite corral it. As if by an occult hand, the ball fell straight to the feet of a Titan, and she took advantage of the opportunity, placing the ball into the back of the net.

With the disappointing 3–2 double overtime loss, the Maroons concluded an otherwise successful 15–5–1 season. The team bids farewell to fourth-years Morse, midfielder Katie Hedlund, midfielder Sara Kwan, forward Meghan Derken, goalkeeper Jacinda Reid, and defender Katie Shivanandan.

Kwan was a key player for Chicago throughout her four years, finishing this season with three goals and five assists. She ranks second all-time in assists (28) and eighth all-time in career goals (24) at Chicago.

Third-year defender Emma Almon may have said it best.

“The six seniors have been instrumental in developing and elevating our program to the level it is [at] today. They have set a standard for what we as Maroons are capable of and can be.”

With this positive attitude the Maroons look to improve over the offseason and come back next season as an even stronger squad.