October 2, 2014

No. 12 squad prepared for tougher competition

With one of the hottest starts in recent memory, the No. 12 Maroons currently boast a 9-1 record.

In clutch fashion, Chicago won in overtime over North Park (September 17) and in double overtime over Wisconsin–Oshkosh (September 6). The Maroons’ only loss came against Illinois Wesleyan, a close 1–0 game.

The team’s season began on a positive note: It won every preseason game and managed to keep the momentum going into the regular season.

“We went undefeated this preseason, and that mentality and expectation of not losing definitely carried over into the regular season,” third-year midfielder Nicole Mullen said. “Even when we went down in games, we never panicked because we know what we are capable of, and we managed to find a way to come back to not just tie games but to win them.”

Mullen said this has been the most productive preseason in her three years playing at Chicago.

Fourth-year goalkeeper Jacinda Reid also touted the team this season.

“This preseason we were fortunate enough to win a couple times in overtime. Pulling out close victories like that has helped establish our team culture and character, which are an important aspects for our team as we move into conference,” Reid said.

After the Illinois Wesleyan game, however, the Maroons had to adjust their mindset. This sole loss had its benefits, helping the team avoid overconfidence in future games.

“Going into the North Central and Carthage games, we had just come off of our first loss,” Mullen said. “We hate losing, and we went into North Central and Carthage with a mentality that we were not going to lose another game.”

This change in attitude allowed the team to channel its energy into the preparation required for the Carthage and North Central games. Last Sunday, the Maroons played at Carthage and triumphed 1–0, gathering their fifth shutout of the season. First-year defender Kaitlin Price headed in a goal with the assist from fellow first-year forward Mia Calamari. It was Calamari’s sixth assist of the season—she currently has eight. Chicago had a total of 12 shots on goal while Carthage had six. Reid made a number of saves in the first half, and in the second half fourth-year goalkeeper Mallory Morse made two more saves to preserve the shutout.

Then on Tuesday, the team convincingly won 7–0 against North Central at home. Calamari assisted Price again, and twice this time, as Chicago took an early 2–0 lead. Later in the game, fourth-year midfielder Sara Kwan was able to make a seamless connection with fourth-year forward Meghan Derken, who utilized her speed to beat her defender and score in the 55th minute. In addition, third-year forwards Julia Ozello and Mary Bittner recorded two goals apiece.

However, the Maroons now expect tougher competition. Saturday marks the start of conference games, which will include three teams ranked in the top 12 nationally.

“Conference games are the easiest games to get excited and focused for,” Reid said. “We are excited to begin with Carnegie Mellon and determined to beat them given their undefeated record and high national ranking [No. 4].”

Mullen agreed.

“I think the whole team is extremely excited to play Carnegie Mellon on Saturday. UAA games are always the best games of the season. Carnegie is a very good team, and it is definitely going to be a battle, but I think as a team we have a clear picture of what needs to be accomplished and are ready to play our game and take care of business.”

Chicago takes the field at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday to battle Carnegie Mellon.