Maroon Sports Take Autumn By Storm

In cross country, volleyball, football, and more, the Maroons are kicking off fall with a streak of successes.

By Alison Gill

While the majority of University of Chicago students trickled back to campus this past week, the fall student-athletes continued to train and compete with their eyes on larger goals. Balancing the hub of returned activity to the University with their complete competitive slate, the Maroons took on a variety of opponents this past weekend to build on an already impressive run of success. In their young seasons, the Chicago athletic department has witnessed a string of program heights, including best-ever national rankings, surprising upsets, and exciting comebacks. For those just arriving back to campus, here’s a rundown on the past six weeks of Maroon athletic activity and what to look forward to at the mid-way point of the fall season. 

Spurred by an upset over Washington University in St. Louis—a perennial powerhouse and the defending national championship—in the Wheaton Invitational, the women’s cross country is currently ranked No. 2 in the country, their highest-ever ranking. The first three races, during which the team has only finished behind Division I Butler, showcased the depth of the team; first-year Leah Ulrich, fourth-year Claire Brockway, and third-year Abigail Shoemaker have each paced the team in the races. 

The men’s side has had a similarly stellar start to the season. The team has climbed to No. 12 in the latest poll. After first-place finishes their first two races, the team placed third in the most recent Wheaton Invitational. All-American Ryan Cutter returned at Wheaton, in time to take the individual crown and be named the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week—the first such honor for a male Maroon. Both teams will run in the Augastana Invitational on Friday, October 4 to kick off a three consecutive weekends of competition. 

The women’s volleyball has had a comparably ascendant rise towards the top of the polls to the women’s cross country. After a massive 3-1 win against then No. 1 Calvin, the Maroons secured their highest-ever national ranking at the No. 3 spot. While the defeat of the Calvin Knights remains the biggest victory of the young season, the Maroons seemingly set program records every week. Most recently, the team avenged their loss to Aurora, who ended Chicago’s season last year in the second round of the NCAA tournament, beating them in four sets and moving to 14-1 on the year. All-American third-year setter Emma Griffith directs the offense, while fourth-year Anne Marie Stifter and third-year Fredericka Paulson have provided clutch kills. Next up this weekend, the team will travel to Atlanta for the second round of the UAA conference play. 

The football secured their first win of the season over the weekend against Lake Forest. Down 10-0 to the Foresters, the Maroons stormed back with 27 unanswered points and a victory. The Chicago team now sits at 1-2. Offensively, second-year Nick D’Ambrose and third-year Mike Martinson have established a one-two punch in the running game. In three games, D’Ambrose has rushed for 321 yards on 44 attempts, averaging 7.2 yards per carry, and being named UAA Athlete of the Week twice; Martinson has added 214 yards for 5.7 yards per carry. Second-year Jeffrey Jackson and third-year Marco Cobian have split time under center and combined for 484 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. On the opposite side of the ball, fourth-year Henry Winebrake and third-year Jackson Ross pace the defense with 32 and 30 tackles, respectively. The Maroons will suit up at Beloit on Saturday, October 5, before returning to Chicago for Homecoming against Knox on Saturday, October 12. 

Behind an exciting offensive attack and a stalwart defensive line, the women’s soccer team has compiled a record of 6-1-1 and a national No. 15 ranking. Fourth-years Adrianna Vera and Hanna Watkins have tied for the team lead with 17 points while third-year Katie Jasminski barely trails at 15 points. Third-year goalkeeper Miranda Malone has posted a 0.750 save percentage with three shutouts in a nationally competitive slate of starts. All together, the Maroons have outscored their opponents 28 goals to five and outshot them 174 to 43. The team will seek to build off a fourth-place UAA finish and a first-round NCAA tournament exit from last years in the coming weeks. Boasted by impressive depth, the team tied No. 8 Wheaton, 1-1, and defeated Calvin, 4-0, in the past week. The Maroons will begin their conference schedule against Emory on Saturday, October 5. 

Under first-year head coach Pat Flynn, the men’s soccer team finished a brutal slate of competition with a record of 3-1-4 and a No. 4 national ranking. The Maroons played four nationally ranked teams in their first eight games; they tied No.12 St. Thomas and beat No. 21 North Park and No. 9 Loras. The team suffered their sole setback of the season against No. 7 Calvin, who beat them in the NCAA tournament Final Four last season and edged them again this year 2-1. Second-year Vicente Mateus leads the Maroon with eight points in six games, but, after losing legendary athletes and Chicago record-holders Matt Koh and Max Lopez to graduation, the story of the season has been their depth—an astounding twelve players have tallied a point thus far. On defense, third-year Aaron Katsimpalis has provided reliability and clutch saves; he has a 0.805 save percentage on a 0.89 goals against average. Like the women, the men will kick off their conference schedule against Emory on Saturday.