Battling down to the wire on Saturday, the Maroons could not push back the powerful Wash U offense, falling to the Bears in their final game of the 2008 season.
After struggling through conference play this season, the Maroons (5–10–3, 1–5–1 UAA) found their season culminating in a tight game against Wash U (12–5–1, 4–3), historically one of the Maroon’s toughest rivals. Hanging in the game hours after its 1:30 starting time, Chicago ultimately fell 2–1 in the second overtime.
“We had a great week of training leading up to the match and had full expectations we would play extremely well, which is what we were able to do,” head coach Scott Wiercinski said. “Our matches with Wash U throughout the years have been very competitive and enjoyable games to watch, since we play similar styles. This year was no different.”
Blasting out of the gates, fourth-year midfielder Kevin Brege notched the first goal for his team in just the seventh minute of the game. Switching over to a defensive game, the Bears shut down Chicago’s efforts to tie up the game. With less than 90 seconds remaining in the first half, however, the Maroons pulled a turnabout. Pouncing on an out-of-control ball, third-year forward Edgar Friloux emerged from a pile of Wash U defenders with an equalizer that squirted past the keeper, knotting the match heading into the half.
“Our goal was scored on an excellent individual effort by Edgar. It was a great goal produced by hard work and alert defending,” Wiercinski said.
With the game within reach, Chicago turned in a strong defensive effort in the second half. Protecting the evened score, third-year defender Andrew Marshall, alongside first-year Ryan Tunstall and third-year John Hughes, led a defense that kept the Bears without a goal for 96 minutes. Finishing his debut year in style, Tunstall played a physical game, staying tight on the ball despite the aggression of a Bears team looking to pad its credentials for postseason considerations.
“We really had strong performances from many players on defense in recent matches,” Wiercinski said. “In many ways, we limited Wash U to fewer offensive chances than in previous matches.”
Due to strong goalie work on both teams, neither side was able to bury the game before overtime kicked in. Even as Wash U picked up the offensive tempo in the bonus period, the Bears were limited to just three chances in both overtimes. Still, Chicago was unable to get a shot on goal in overtime, giving Wash U ti me to close out. Dealing the finishing blow, first-year forward Patrick McLean scored in the third minute of the second overtime to send 13th-ranked Wash U to victory.
“They were a very good team and put us under considerable pressure in the second half. They had the wind at their backs, and our guys did an excellent job weathering the storm and thwarting their attacks. We knew that it would be difficult, and we had just turned the tide and put pressure on them when they scored the winning goal,” Wiercinski said.
With only five members graduating this year, Chicago will look to build on this year with a resurgence in 2009.
“We are very excited for next year and are very excited about the growth and maturing that took place this year,” Wiercinski said. “We had many young players on our team play important and extensive roles this year and will serve us well as we continue to grow into the future.”