October 22, 2013

Maroons split weekend doubleheader

In their first UAA doubleheader of the season, the Maroons (7–4–1, 2–2 UAA) beat Rochester (10–2–1, 3–1), which had been in first-place, 2–1, but couldn’t make it two wins out of two on Sunday, when it lost to Case Western (6–4–4, 1–2–1) 4–0.

The South Siders now sit fourth in the UAA standings, trailing Emory (10–3–1, 3–0–1), Carnegie Mellon (10–2–1, 3–1), and Rochester.

Against the Yellowjackets, the Maroons knew they would have to work hard to contend with a high-pressure offense.

“Friday night was definitely one of our greater efforts,” said head coach Mike Babst. “I wouldn’t say it’s the best game we played but we fought really hard for 90 minutes and attacked very well with fewer chances than we usually have.”

Chicago started the game on the front foot, but the Yellowjackets were beginning to come back into the contest, putting in several dangerous crosses, when the Maroons took the lead through third-year forward Kyle Kurfirst.

“With the first goal [third-year midfielder] Nick Codispoti hit the ball in on the right side and there was some space outside their center backs,” Babst said. “We put a really good ball in and Kyle just got inside and was able to finish it.”

The Yellowjackets battled back, ending the first half with an advantage in shots (10–3) and corner kicks (5–2).

In the 67th minute Rochester midfielder Alex Swanger tied the game, scoring on a free kick. The score remained 1–1 until the last moments of the game.

“With a little over 10 minutes left, [first-year forward] Brenton-Neal Desai made a great play in the offensive corner of the field and played the ball to [first-year midfielder] George Voulgaris. George took a touch and buried a shot in the bottom left corner from over 20 yards out for his first goal of his collegiate career,” said Kurfirst.

After what was an impressive win against a Rochester side that was riding an eight-game unbeaten streak, the Maroons looked to Sunday’s game against Case, which was coming off of a 4–1 loss to Wash U.

“I think there’s times when you come off a really big win and you look at a team that got hammered on the scoreboard even though they weren’t outplayed,” Babst said. “Psychologically guys feel like it’s a lot easier than it actually is, when in reality the challenge on Sunday was as great as the one on Friday.”

Case scored three goals in 12 minutes in the first half to take a commanding lead.

The Maroons came out for the second half with a marked sense of urgency, but were unable to create any clear-cut chances, and the Spartans added a fourth in the 51st minute.

The loss marked a disappointing trend in Chicago’s season. The Maroons have lost every game they have played following a win against a top-25 team this year.

The South Siders will now look to the weekend, when they are hoping to right the ship against UW–Whitewater on Saturday and Rockford on Sunday.

“We’re just focusing on the game on Saturday right now. When you come off a result like that you have to put everything into performing like the team that we are and we showed on Friday,” Babst said. “You take what happened on Sunday, look at it for a week, and hopefully that brings everything into focus on Saturday because we really want to get back out there and on track to get results.”