SPORTS

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October 16, 2009

Two-game weekend to shake up UAA race

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The conference aspirations of the men’s and women’s soccer teams will be put to the test this weekend. Two weeks into conference play, the soccer teams are pitted against UAA rival Rochester today and Case tomorrow.

The women’s team (9–1–1, 1–0–1 UAA) started the season picked to win the conference. After holding a lead for most of the first conference game against Carnegie (5–5–1, 0–1–1), the team was understandably dissatisfied when the game ended in a 1–1 tie.

“We were definitely disappointed with our performance, especially with our game management skills towards the end of the game,” third-year midfielder Emily Benoit said.

The tie against Carnegie fueled the team’s resolve to win the conference. That goal appeared in jeopardy last weekend during the game against Emory (4–2–4, 0–1–1), when the score at the end of the half was 1–0 in Emory’s favor. In a show of experience and team maturity, the Maroons rallied and ended up winning the match 2–1.

“We had to play down 1–0, and we found a way to come back and win, which is not an easy thing to do in soccer,” second-year defender Maggie Tobin said.

The sixth-ranked women will be playing 18th-ranked Rochester (8–1–2, 2–0) today. With both teams undefeated in the conference, this match will be a chance for the women to back up their pre-season ranking.

“They are going to be extremely physical teams and we are training hard at practice this week to be in the best shape physically and mentally,” third-year defender Claire Denz said.

With a solid record backing them up, the team is confident about the remainder of the season.

“I knew that our team had the potential to be great this year, and I am so happy that we are making full use of our potential and having a successful season,” Tobin said. “We are in a great position record-wise, but more importantly, we are in a great position attitude-wise.”

Having the majority of games at home certainly doesn’t hurt the team’s chances.

“All but two of our remaining games are at home, which is a huge advantage for us. We love to play at home, and it is important to us that we keep our long-standing reputation of playing well at home,” Benoit said.

The men’s team (7–2–2, 1–1) had an even rockier beginning to conference play than the women. An uneven start to their conference opener against Carnegie (11–1, 2–0) proved to be too much to overcome; Chicago went down 3–0 early, and the score held steady afterwards.

“We made three silly mistakes in the first 10 minutes against Carnegie, which I think is probably the best team in UAA this season. However, we played evenly against them for 80 minutes,” third-year midfielder Kenzo Manners said. “We learned a good lesson from that game in that if we make stupid mistakes against any UAA teams, they will take advantage of it, and we will get punished.”

Last weekend, the Maroons defeated Emory (8–3, 0–2 UAA), which ranked third in the UAA’s preseason poll, 1–0.

“It was a good team defensive effort, and we need to have a defensive rebound after our 3–0 loss,” fourth-year Drew Marshall said.

A victory in today’s game against Rochester, currently ranked seventh and still lossless in conference, would be a huge step for a Maroon team looking to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the UAA.

“I am very excited about the game, because this is a good opportunity to beat a ranked team. We have not beaten them in eight years, but I think we are ready to compete,” Manners said. “It’s going to be a tough, physical game but I think it’s going be a great match.”

“We had suffered for the past two seasons, and our team mentality got stronger through our rough experiences. I know we are good enough to compete this year and we just have to keep winning games,” Manners said.