With a win at UW–Whitewater Sunday, men’s soccer would have had a .500 record, three games to play, and a reasonable chance at finishing with a winning season. Instead, the Maroons still have a losing record and a tough, uphill climb ahead if they’re to change that by season’s end.
Playing in their final non-conference game of the year, Chicago (5–7–3, 1–2–1 UAA) fell 2–0 to Whitewater (9–5–2), and there was little in their performance for the team to be pleased with. The Maroons were lackluster on defense, ineffective on offense, and saw themselves outshot by a wide margin.
“We didn’t have a very good day,” head coach Scott Wiercinski said. “I think top-to-bottom we didn’t perform very well. One of the reasons for that is that UW–Whitewater is a good team, but I think another reason is that, individually, we didn’t have great performances.”
Whitewater’s first goal came in the 12th minute, putting the Maroons in an early hole. The Warhawks got the ball in Chicago’s half and brought it down the left flank, played it towards the top of the Maroons’ box, and cracked a shot on goal. First-year goalkeeper Chris Giusto was able to get a hand on the shot, but it rebounded back into play, where first-year Cory Meyer headed the ball in.
After the Warhawks got on the board, the game settled into more of a midfield battle, with neither team dominating possession nor finding many promising looks at goal. There were a few more shots for Whitewater in the half, but nothing connected and the first 45 minutes ended with the Maroons still down one.
That score would hold for most of the second half, as well, but as time wore on, the Maroons were forced to push up in an effort to find the equalizing goal. This allowed Whitewater more opportunities on the counterattack, forcing the Chicago defense to make some impressive stops—one of the few bright spots for the team on the day.
“Chris Giusto made two or three fantastic saves, probably in the last 15 or 20 minutes, that kept the score at 1–0,” Wiercinski said. “But we really just got nothing going offensively.”
Despite Giusto’s best efforts, the Warhawks did manage to take advantage of Chicago’s stretched-out formation to get one final goal. That came in the 88th minute, when the Warhawks stole from an attacking Chicago and sent a through ball quickly up the left wing. The ball ended up with second-year forward Luke Buchholz, Whitewater’s points-leader, whose shot nicked off Guisto and went rolling towards the net. Third-year defender Jon Hughes ran back to clear it but was a step slow, and the ball crossed the goal line to put the score at 2–0, where it would stay.
It has been a tough month for the Maroons: Since tying Lake Forest at home four weeks ago, Chicago is 1–4–2. The team has been shut out four times over the stretch, outscored 15–4, and their only win came in overtime against NYU (5–7–3, 0–4). Sunday’s win was the fourth in five tries for the Warhawks.
Things will not get any easier for the Maroons during their final three games. They play at Case (11–4–1, 1–2–1) and Rochester (10–2–2, 3–1) this coming Friday and Sunday, and then at Wash U (10–3–1, 3–1) the following Saturday.
Chicago will need much stronger performances to get wins in any of those appearances. Wash U and Rochester are tied for second in the conference standings, and the two teams are ranked 16th and 17th nationally. The Bears and the Yellow Jackets have just one loss on their records since late September—in both cases, 1–0 losses to ninth-ranked Emory.
“We’re just going to forget about [Whitewater] and move on to our next match and prepare for that,” Wiercinski said.
“Obviously in training we’ll work on some things we didn’t do so well, but in terms of the psychology of moving forward, we’re just going to prepare for Case Western and get ready for that.”