After an 8–1 thrashing of UAA rival Wash U, the No. 5 Maroons head into their final match of the season against Gustavus Adolphus College. Chicago has been brilliant this year, and comes into the weekend with a 13–3 record. The squad will try to improve that mark in its regular season finale against No. 18 Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday.
This weekend may mark the end of the regular season for the Maroons, but it will not be the last match they play. After their match against Gustavus Adolphus they will head down to Florida to participate in the UAA Conference Championships. That makes this weekend’s match one that could be overlooked for the No. 5 Maroons. Third-year Sven Kranz acknowledged how special this season could shape up to be, but said the players are not letting the pressure get to their heads. “The team’s ultimate goal is to obviously win NCAAs. However, at this point, we are just preparing for one match at a time,” Kranz said.
The South Siders are looking to get a win this weekend that will give them momentum going into the postseason. This will not be an easy task against the Gusties of Gustavus Adolphus, who are 19–6 this season and have a perfect 8–0 conference record in the MIAC. Like to the Maroons, the Gusties are hot, coming off two solid wins against Macalester (7–2) and Hamline (9–0) last weekend.
Although the squads have yet to face each other this year, these two teams share a history, having met last year around the same time in the season. In that match, played in Chicago, the Maroons came away with a narrow 5–4 victory. If last year is any indication, the contest this year will be a tight one.
Another obstacle Chicago will have to overcome to be successful this weekend is playing outdoors. Many of the matches the team has played so far this spring season have been indoors due to inclement weather; this weekend that will not be the case. Kranz said the team is ready for this challenge. “We have a match against a tough Gustavus team this Saturday and we have been [playing] a lot of sets outside in preparation,” he said.
Winning this weekend would help spark a run in the UAA championships for Chicago. It is hard not to acknowledge the rankings the Maroons currently hold: at No. 5 in the nation, Chicago will be eligible for the NCAA championships, barring a major meltdown. Chicago made it to the semifinals last year and would like to make another run in the tournament this year.
However, before the Maroons look too far ahead, they need to focus on closing their regular season on a high note. Saturday’s match against Gustavus Adolphus is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Janesville, WI.