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After an unsuccessful road trip to Carnegie a week earlier, men’s soccer needed to rebound strongly at home against Emory and they did so, earning a key win in a tense conference clash.
The Maroons (7–2–2, 1–1 UAA) defeated the Eagles (8–3, 0–2) 1–0 in a match that saw both teams struggle to create clear-cut chances.
Fourth-year defender Drew Marshall’s 53rd-minute goal proved the winner. It was the result of a fluid attacking move that culminated when first-year forward Yoni Einhorn crossed to an unmarked Marshall, who coolly slotted home from 12 yards out.
The goal was exemplary of the type of aggressive, attacking football head coach Scott Wiercinski wants his team to play.
“We want to be fluid and we’ve talked about getting our wide backs forward. Drew certainly enjoys getting forward and scoring goals and likes to do that in practice, too,” Wiercinski said.
The manner in which the goal was scored was somewhat surprising, given that up to that point both sides had appeared tentative, as befits teams coming off losses in their respective UAA openers. The first half was marked by a feeling out process, with both squads focusing on maintaining shape and discipline.
Among the Maroon’s first tasks was containing the Emory attack, which has yet to score in UAA play but put up impressive numbers through the Eagles’ non-conference schedule.
“They played five in the midfield while we had four, and [Wiercinski] wanted our four midfielders and two forwards to deal with their five midfielders. Our forwards worked really hard throughout the game to help midfield deal with those five midfielders, and it worked well,” third-year midfielder Kenzo Manners said.
The Maroon’s discipline and hard work paid off in the form of a relatively comfortable game for second-year goalkeeper Chris Giusto, who was only called upon to make two saves. Wiercinski was particularly proud of how his players covered for one another and played team defense.
“We did a good job defending in numbers. On occasion Emory broke through, but the other guys did a good job of recovering at the back. From a team effort standpoint, it was good because when one player made a mistake his teammates were always there to help him out,” Wiercinski said.
Following Marshall’s goal, both teams became more aggressive, tactically and physically. Midway through the second half, referee Tim Deters doled out three yellow cards in 62 seconds, penalizing Emory’s Nathan McKeever and Christopher Howie as well as third-year midfielder Ryan Fitzgerald.
While a fair amount of fouls are to be expected in conference play, some of the aggression was purely tactical.
“There may have been an unusually high number of fouls committed by our team, but that was most likely a result of our team attempting to prevent counterattacks and trying to slow the tempo of the game to kill the clock,” first-year midfielder Garrett Laird said.
That strategy proved effective. The Maroons were able to protect their lead without facing much danger from the Eagles.
Overall, it was an effective, though not dazzling, performance from Chicago. If the Maroons can continue to display the brand of team defense they did against Emory, they’ll have at least a chance to win any game.
It is, however, a soccer truism that “goals win games.” Marshall’s well-taken goal indicates that Chicago is capable of playing attractive offensive soccer, but the Maroons will need to create shots of that sort more consistently to make serious noise in the UAA. The talent is certainly there, and next weekend’s home matches against Rochester and Case provide a perfect opportunity for the Maroons to position themselves well before the final stretch of games.