Women’s soccer wins UAA championship

Two-win weekend nets Chicago its first conference crown since 1999.

By Charles Fang

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Women’s soccer defeated NYU on Friday and perennial rival Brandeis for Senior Day on Sunday in the Maroons’ last regular season home games, clinching their first UAA championship since 1999. In winning their conference, Chicago is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament this November.

Against a crafty NYU squad the Maroons played strong soccer to pull out the win. Issues including poor field conditions, emanating from artificial turf malfunctions, hindered both teams’ efforts.

Nevertheless, first-year Natalia Jovanovic scored in the 52nd minute on a magnificent midfield pass from fourth-year Claire Denz, putting the Maroons on the head, 1-0. The robust defensive line of the Maroons was then able to turn aside all attacks from the withering Violets to preserve the victory.

Chicago saw advantages in shots on goal (20-10) and in set pieces, while third-year goalkeeper Emma Gormley notched her third consecutive clean sheet.

“The game [against NYU] was a physical one,” Gormley said. “NYU didn’t give us anything easy, and we had to work hard all game.”

Head coach Amy Reifert described NYU’s style as a combination of an intractable “low-pressure defense” and an offense reliant upon continual counterattacks.

“Thankfully our team is skillful enough to adapt to any team or field,” responded second-year Brigette Kragie, noting the field conditions.

Following Friday’s win, the Maroons continued their winning ways, beguiling Brandeis in the opening minutes of Chicago’s Senior Day. The Judges from Waltham remained unable to match the pace and tenacity of their Midwest counterparts.

Three and a half minutes in, Kragie received a through pass on the left side that she slotted inside the far post for the first score. Three minutes later, the ball was deflected on a send-in, resulting in a heady finish by first-year Liz Doman. The Maroons controlled possession throughout the half with superb touches and sustained passing triangles.

Equally as efficient, the Maroons’ defense played exceptionally well, stifling the Judges with stout play in the back line. The Judges were barely able to muster any runs at goal and the Maroon center backs were brilliant in denying all crosses into the goalmouth. The second half saw more balanced play and no scoring, giving the Maroons a 2-0 victory.

“We tried to limit the number of chances that each of the Brandeis strikers had to look at the goal,” explained Reifert. “We tried to not allow them to turn with the ball and to provide good cover so that they could not get shots off. [Brandeis’s Sofia Vallone and Tiffany Pacheco] are both very talented and we were thrilled with the work of our defenders.”

“Our win against NYU on Friday, playing on our home field, the fact that it was Senior Day, and the opportunity to clinch the UAA title were all sources of motivation,” said fourth-year Emily Benoit.

With the UAA championship in hand, the Maroons will look forward to the NCAA tournament. Before the tournament commences, the Maroons will finish their season against Wash U on November 6.