The Chicago women's soccer team returned victorious from its two weekend trips to the East Coast. The undefeated Chicago squad now finds itself atop the UAA standings and still ranked third in all of Division III. The Maroons were an outstanding 2-0-1 on their trips, racking up goals and playing tough defense as always. In particular, second-year striker Renee Neuner has been on fire, scoring five goals over the last three games, and she was named the University Athletic Association Conference Athlete of the Week for women's soccer. With this season's road games over, Chicago is now in excellent position to make the postseason tournament and take a run at a national championship.
The Maroons' journey began on October 11 at Carnegie Mellon University, where they came away with a 1-1 draw. Although the result was the first and only blemish on Chicago's record, it kept the team in excellent position in the conference and provided significant motivation for the next two games, the first in Boston against Brandeis on October 17, and the second in New York City against New York University on October 19.
After the Pittsburgh game, Chicago once more demonstrated its potent offensive force, trouncing Brandeis in a 7-0 rout in which Neuner scored four goals. The offense as a whole found "a great deal of success finishing," according to head coach Amy Reifert. The Maroons continued to take advantage of scoring opportunities, putting together an impressive 3-0 win against NYU. In that victory, Reifert pointed out the individual efforts of Neuner and fourth-year co-captain Christine Carqueville that led to the last two goals of the game and sealed the victory for Chicago.
The wins allowed Chicago, in the words of fourth-year co-captain Courtnie Hardie, "to secure our spot at the top of the UAA." Should Chicago win its conference, it will automatically qualify for postseason play.
Reifert, however, was a bit more cautious.
"If we do not win our last three games, it will not matter where we are now," she said.
All the same, the team is flying high, having shown a great deal of maturity and poise since being eliminated by Wheaton College in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament last season.
Though the team's fourth-years continue to play key leadership roles and make valuable contributions, the contributions from underclassmen are also impressive. While the UAA has already recognized Neuner, other team members have made a significant impact on the field. First-year Misa Bretschneider had an outstanding road trip, scoring a goal and providing three assists to go along with her game-winning goal against Emory earlier last week.
The wins have boosted the confidence of the team, allowing new leaders to emerge as players grow more vocal and confident with each game.
The team returns home for good on Sunday, October 26, with an important non-conference game against Macalester College, followed by the final three games of the season, all against UAA opponents. At the end of those games, Chicago may very well be on its way to the second seasonbut, in keeping with its attitude all year, the team has refused to look past any game.