For the second straight NCAA tournament game, the University of Chicago women's soccer team (16-1-4) played deep into overtime before finally prevailing. The Maroons defeated the University of Puget Sound (18-2-1) 2-1 in double overtime on Saturday, November 22 and advanced to the national semifinals.
Second-year defender Diana Connett scored both of the Maroons' goals in the contest, the second of which came with just four minutes left in the final overtime period. The goal originated from a low corner kick taken by first-year Misa Bretschneider. The ball entered the box and was flicked by second-year Jacqui DeLeon at the six before Connett stuffed it into the net.
"The ball was just bouncing around the front of the goal, and I put it in," Connett said. "After that, everyone just froze. I looked at the ref and she signaled goal, and then our whole bench just cleared, and everyone mobbed me."
The Maroons will face the DePauw University Tigers (15-4-1) in a national semifinal match Saturday November 29, to be played at SUNY Oneonta. The College of New Jersey (17-4-0) and Oneonta (19-1-3) will play in the other semifinal game.
Chicago took control of the game early, regulating the tempo for the first 20 minutes before Puget Sound finally pushed back. The Maroons had an early goal scored by fourth-year forward Courtney Hardie called back because of an offsides call.
In the second half, Puget Sound struck first, scoring on a long ball played behind the Chicago defense. First-year defender Sarah Hall and second-year keeper Andrea Przybysz both challenged the ball, but were beaten by the header of Puget Sound's Perrin Schutz.
Throughout the rest of the second half, Chicago pounded the Puget Sound defense, and Connett notched the equalizer with 7:03 left in the game off a Chicago corner kick. DeLeon took the kick, which bounced out of the box before second-year defender Ellen Fitzgerald headed it back in. Connett, who had been assigned to shadow the Puget Sound keeper, tapped the ball past the goalie.
During the first overtime, the Chicago defense withstood significant pressure. Puget Sound striker Cortney Kjar had a clear breakaway from just past midfield but was stopped by Przybysz. Just over a minute later, a shot by Kjar got by Przybysz but bounced off the crossbar and over the net.
Chicago was out-shot for just the second time all season, 11-9. Puget Sound also had a 10-4 penalty advantage over the Maroons. Chicago capitalized on its chances however, scoring on 50 percent of its corner kick opportunities. The team allowed just its 10th goal all season. The Maroons are on pace to break the all-time season-low record of 12, set by the 1996 team, the last to advance to the Final Four. In that year, they lost in their semifinal game to the College of New Jersey.
Chicago defeated DePauw 3-0 on September 20 in their sole meeting this year. In that game, second-year Renee Neuner scored two goals, and first-year Bridget Hogan added one as well. The Maroons completely dominated the Tigers early in the season, outshooting them 10-2.
"We can definitely use that to our advantage because we have the tape, and we already know what they're like," said second year Monica Michelotti. "It's going to be a different game, though, because of the national semifinals. But we beat them pretty badly, which gives you extra confidence."
The Maroons now have their sights set firmly on the national championship but have not lost sight of what got them this far. "We definitely want to win the title, but nothing can take this season away from us, and this has been the most amazing group of girls," Connett said.