Calling it the best soccer they've played this year, the 11th-ranked women's team advanced in NCAA sectional play Saturday with a decisive 4-0 victory over the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Three different players contributed to the Maroon scoring barrage, and the Pointers added one in their own net late in the second half.
Third-year forward Renee Neuner tallied first off an assist from third-year defender Elise Aiken to give the Maroons (15-2-2) an early lead 15:15 in.
"Our first goal of the game was a really good play," UAA rookie of the year Christine Farmer said. "Elise sent a nice lofted ball into the mixer and Renee redirected it into the goal."
A week after allowing an early goal against Wash U, Chicago knew that the key to defeating the Pointers (16-5-1) Saturday would be setting the pace early.
"Scoring first changes the complexion of any game," assistant coach Bannon Stroud said. "It's easier to be ahead than to have to catch up as the game goes onyou're in control."
Chicago resumed their offensive dominance in the second half. Aiken pushed the lead to 2-0 when she scored off an assist from second-year forward Misa Bretschneider in the 54th minute. The Pointers recorded an own goal after a botched defensive play, and then second-year midfielder Marianna Kerppola added her first goal of the year at 86:32 off a pass from third-year forward Kelsey Hotchkiss.
The Maroons played well on both ends of the field and everywhere in between. "Our defense was organized, the midfield did an excellent job winning balls, and the forwards ran the entire game," said third-year goalkeeper Andrea Pryzybysz, who made two saves in her ninth shutout of the season.
"It was the best we played in a long time," Stroud said. "The offense was quick and decisive on the attack. I felt we had their defense on their heels for most of the game."
The defense did a praiseworthy job of controlling the Pointers despite the absence of third-year defender Diana Connett due to injury. The Maroon defense limited Stevens Point to 5 shots on goal while giving the Chicago offense the opportunity to strike 21 times.
Chicago travels to face third-ranked Wheaton (21-1-0) in the tournament's third round Friday. The Maroons' first loss of the season came at the hands of Wheaton September 23, making this match-up more important than just staying alive in the playoffsit's also a chance for the Maroons to avenge their 1-0 setback in a match marked by five Chicago injuries. Last year Chicago beat Wheaton on penalty kicks on the road for the third round, and they are tenaciously preparing to repeat history.
See Friday's Maroon for a full preview.