For men’s soccer, Wednesday evening’s match with Anderson was like a working vacation.
Playing the Ravens (7–9–1) for the first time, Chicago (10–2–2, 3–1 UAA) cruised to a 3–0 victory that was perhaps even more comfortable than the score line indicates.
Fourth-year forward Edgar Friloux was the star of the night, scoring the Maroons’ first two goals. The opener came in the 16th minute, when third-year forward Alex Clifford provided a perfect through ball to play Friloux behind the Ravens’ defense. Minutes earlier, second-year midfielder Stanton Coville had shot directly at Anderson goalkeeper Adam Harris from a similar position, but Friloux did not have the same trouble. From 12 yards out, he fired an unstoppable low shot into the far right side of the net, getting Chicago the only goal the team ended up needing.
Friloux doubled Chicago’s advantage in the 31st minute with a superb individual effort. After a battle to take the ball from Anderson sweeper Charlie Barleycorn on the left wing, Friloux dribbled toward Harris, then beat the helpless keeper from seven yards with another hard, low shot just inside the right post.
Clifford capped the scoring with a well-deserved goal in the 60th minute. Receiving the ball at the byline left of the goalposts with no angle for a shot, Clifford created his own angle. He held off two defenders while dribbling towards the penalty spot and then unleashed a ferocious 13-yard shot into the top right corner of the goal to finish a dazzling individual play.
Chicago’s offensive exploits were facilitated by a stingy defensive effort. Second-year goalkeeper Chris Giusto was credited with seven saves, though none were very troublesome. Tellingly, six of those saves came in the second half, when the Maroons were easing off the accelerator and clearing their bench.
Since conceding three goals within the first 11 minutes against Carnegie, Chicago has played 449 scoreless minutes, the bulk of them during the Maroons’ current four-game win streak. Much of Chicago’s defensive success can be attributed to the Maroons’ backline of first-year right back Daniel Hahn, second-year center backs Rashad Masri and Ryan Tunstall, and fourth-year left back Drew Marshall playing with increasing cohesion as the season progresses. However, central midfielders Gabe Iatarola and Garrett Laird have also played a large role by winning countless balls in midfield, and on the few occasions Giusto has been challenged lately, he has been more than equal to the task.
Such stifling team defense figures to serve Chicago well down the always-crucial homestretch. The Maroons meet UW–Whitewater (8–5–3) Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., before finishing out the season with successive UAA contests against NYU (4–7–2, 0–2–2), Brandeis (5–8–1, 1–3), and Wash U (8–3–3, 2–2).
While UW–Whitewater is neither a conference nor central region opponent, Chicago will have extra incentive to claim the victory, as the Warhawks are one of its biggest non-conference rivals. The two schools have met 13 times since 1995. Though the Maroons hold a 7–5–1 series lead, Chicago will be looking for revenge, as UW-Whitewater has taken the past two contests.
Looking at the larger picture, Chicago still has a chance to win the conference. The Maroons would likely have to run the table to do so, but they have already faced the other contenders, Carnegie and Rochester, coming away with a win over the Yellowjackets and a loss to the Tartans.
Additionally, Chicago appears well positioned for the postseason. In the official NCAA regional rankings released Wednesday, the Maroons sit third in the Central region behind only Wheaton and Dominican, who dealt Chicago a 2–1 defeat September 5. To maintain this favorable position, Chicago has to avoid any slip-ups during its final four games of the season. Given the Maroons’ consistency of late, there’s no doubt that goal is within their grasp.