After defeating North Central College in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Semifinals, the University of Chicago women’s lacrosse team was one victory away from ensuring that its inaugural season was magisterial. In the CCIW Championship game this past Saturday, the Maroons were defeated by Illinois Wesleyan University 11–6, thus concluding their season. Despite the loss, it was a historic run where they finished with a 15–3 overall record and had a perfect home record of 11–0.
From the start of the game, Illinois Wesleyan came out playing relentlessly. The Titans looked to end UChicago’s chances of victory and within two minutes they scored the opening goal. Not even a minute later, the Titans struck again to put them up by two. By the time they scored their third goal at the 25:16 mark, the Maroons took a time-out to regroup and plan their attack.
First-year Lally Johnson opened the door for a comeback after scoring in the 18:57 mark. Fellow first-year Isabelle Moran contributed with a goal of her own. However, with every goal the Maroons scored, the Titans responded with another. By the end of the half, the Maroons were down 8–2.
The Maroons came into the second half energized and taking on the pressure with stride. Within four minutes, first-year Karina Schulze set up Johnson to score her 44th goal of the season, cutting the deficit to five goals. Schulze picked up the load and scored a goal of her own. Despite this, Titans’ player Riley Rooney scored her third and fourth goal of the game to ice the game. Johnson concluded the scoring for the Maroons in the final two minutes of the game for the 11–6 final score.
It was all hands on deck, as third-year Honor Crandell stopped 10 shots from the Titans to ensure they didn’t gain a larger lead. Second-year Bri Fadden took charge of the defense, as she caused the Titans to turn the ball over three times and not only had three ground balls, but an assist. Despite outshooting their opponents by a 30–27 margin, the Maroons were done in by turning the ball over 15 times, and only converting 1–7 free position shots, while Illinois Wesleyan converted 4–5.
When asked about the season as a whole, third-year captain Maya De Jonge said, "I think the season as a whole far exceeded any expectations we had for it – even after just a couple weeks of practice, I think we all knew it was going to be a special season, and it really was. Personally, it’s been incredibly fun and rewarding to be a part of this team’s transition from club to varsity. Everyone understood how important and exciting this inaugural season was, and I think being caught up in it all and embracing the moment brought us close together as a team very quickly. Finishing the season with a record of 15–3 and making it to our league championships was pretty unbelievable, but it was also a complete testament to all the work we put in – rain, snow, or shine – for the past six months. Despite losing that title game, It showed us how much potential we really have and gave us an eye into what the next few years might hold. We grew so much in just one season, and with the foundation we laid and the standards we set this year, I truly expect nothing but continued exponential growth and excitement in the seasons to come. I could not be prouder of this inaugural team."
The common theme of this season was to never quit and to trust in one another. This is something that the Maroons will carry with them as they mature as players and become closer as a team. After all, this brought them to the championship game in their first season. Prior to the tournament, head coach Kate Robinson was named the CCIW Co-Coach of the Year and Schulze was named Offensive Player of the Year. From this performance, they will only improve as they aim to obtain gold in the future.