The long-standing women’s soccer rivalry between Wheaton College and the Maroons continued on Tuesday in Wheaton, Il. While the Maroons fought hard, ultimately, the game went to Wheaton 1–0.
This loss may shock some of the team’s more ardent fans, who were reveling in the team’s four-game winning streak. It’s not that the Maroons lost their mojo, but rather that Tuesday’s competition was unlike anything they had experienced this season.
“Many of the teams we’ve played so far this season have been good, but Wheaton is on a completely different level,” said third-year goalie Emma Gormley. “We knew the game was going to be a tough one.”
Head coach Amy Reifert agreed: “Wheaton is historically one of the best teams in the country, and they are probably one of the top two or three teams we play all year. They’re just a really great team.”
The box score confirmed this assessment. In the games leading up to Tuesday’s match, the Maroons averaged 17 shots on goal and allowed an average of 13. Against Wheaton, the Maroons took only 8 shots on goal while allowing 16.
However, Reifert stressed that the box score misrepresented the balance of play. “In the first half,” she explains, “they dominated the play, but in the second half it was a much more even game.”
The team’s back line (fourth-years Claire Denz and Marcella DeLaurentiis, third-year Maggie Tobin, and first-years Katie Dana, Liz Doman, and Bea Hobson) played especially well. In fact, Reifert thinks the Maroons have one of the best back lines around: “I don’t think there’s a more dynamic group that’s going to run at you as hard as we do.”
Fourth-year Emily Benoit adds, “Regardless of the goal, which was a mistake made on behalf of the whole team—not one particular position—our back line was incredibly solid, and they stepped up and won balls to keep it in our offensive half. They helped our team create the scoring chances that we did have.”
Overall, the game was deeply “physical and emotional,” and Reifert’s only regret was that the Maroons did not play the first half as tenaciously as the second.
Most agree that this game is good preparation for the rest of the season’s games, the majority of which are in conference. Winning UAAs and qualifying for NCAAs seems to be the team’s main focus, and as Benoit explained, “Last night’s game showed us the level we can play at and must play at in order to be successful [in the conference].”
The Maroons return to play this Saturday in a much-anticipated home game against Carnegie Mellon. “We love playing at home, and it will be a welcomed change after our last two games being on the road,” said Benoit. “Playing at home only gives us more motivation to win.”