November 1, 2013

NCAA berth on the line in East Coast road trip

The Maroons’ regular season is coming to a close. They’ve got three games left to ensure they have a postseason to look forward to.

Chicago (8–4–2) plays two of those games this weekend, traveling to New York to play the NYU Bobcats (6–5–3, 0–3–1 UAA) on Friday before driving north to face the Brandeis Judges (12–4–0, 1–3–0) on Sunday.

Though the Bobcats haven’t won a conference game this season, they shouldn’t be underestimated.

“NYU is a very talented team. They’ve been erratic but have shown the ability to score goals,” head coach Mike Babst said. “They came out against CMU and scored two in the first 10 minutes, so they have the ability to be very dangerous attacking and have had a lot of quality results this year.”

The Bobcats opened their season at 6–0–1, but haven’t been as steady in the latter half, going 0–4–3 in their last seven.

After Friday’s match Chicago will rest a day before taking on the Judges, who led the conference last year. They currently stand second to last in the eight-team league, but have the best overall record in the UAA.

“I think Brandeis is the best attacking team in the league. They have a number of guys up front that have produced a lot of goals like in the past two years that will really test the organization of our back line,” Babst said.

The Maroons are coming off a weekend that saw them secure a draw against UW–Whitewater, thanks to a last-second goal from third-year Michael Choquette, and break a 40-year-old school record for most goals in a game.

The team’s priority now, however, is maintaining some of that momentum. They have struggled for consistency in the UAA this year, losing to Emory (10–4–1, 3–0–1) and Case Western (6–4–4, 1–2–1) after convincing victories over Carnegie Mellon (10–2–1, 3–1) and Rochester (11–2–1, 3–1), respectively.

“You hope to not have to learn the same lesson over and over. At this point we’re looking at a three-game schedule. Everyone’s going to be tough and I don’t think we’re in a position where winning only one of these games is going to put us in the tournament or conference race,” Babst said. “It’s going to be putting three really good efforts together, and the guys understand that we’re at the point this year that we can’t look past anybody.”

The team as a whole realizes the importance of these last several games.

“They’re all huge,” Babst said. “You’d like to be in a position where you feel like you’ve already locked up an NCAA bid and you are out in front of the conference race. But there are very, very few teams that are in that position, so for us it’s going to be what this brings out in our guys. It’s probably the most urgent time this season and most desperate time. This is the time where it needs to come together.”

The Maroons kick off their weekend slate in New York at 11 a.m. ET this morning. The game against Brandeis is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday.