October 16, 2007

Offense back in big way for women's soccer

For an offense that has fallen off track for the past month, Sunday’s scoring surge could be exactly what Chicago needs as it reaches the home stretch.

The Maroons (7–3–3, 1–1–2 UAA) limped to the east coast this weekend with one win in three weeks. Over a span of six games, the injury-marred South Siders had scored an average of just one goal per contest, a far cry from the fireworks they set off in the final third to start the year.

They needed a five-minute offensive explosion to turn it all around.

After a frustrating 1–1 tie at Brandeis (7–4–2, 1–2–1 UAA), in which the Maroons failed to tally a goal for the final 50 minutes of the game, including two overtimes, they found what they were missing and more in time to face NYU. The Violets got to play host to Chicago’s most dominant offensive display of the UAA season, featuring three goals all netted within the first five minutes of the match.

Heading to Boston, the Maroons were sitting on a five-year undefeated streak against Brandeis, who hadn’t so much as tied Chicago in that span. Friday’s draw left the visitors’ undefeated streak intact, but it also left the South Siders further depleted in the attack, with injuries to third-year midfielder Siggy Nachtergaele and fourth-year forward Christine Farmer.

In the 10th minute of the first half, fourth-year defender Amanda Catalano’s corner kick set up second-year midfielder Claire Gill’s second goal of the season to give Chicago an early advantage. However, the Judges bounced back just over three minutes later, when fourth-year midfielder Sarah Jasak intercepted a Maroon pass and slipped the ball past fourth-year keeper Amanda Sutter, scoring the final goal of the day.

With the game reaching double-overtime, the South Siders failed to capitalize on their 12–1 advantage in corner kicks and came up empty in a scramble in the opposing goal box as the final horn blew.

“I think we played pretty well against Brandeis,” assistant coach Bannon Stroud said. “The effort wasn’t lacking…. The only thing we needed to fix was the last piece of putting the ball across the goal line.”

The Big Apple proved more friendly than Beantown as the Maroons closed out their road schedule Sunday afternoon against NYU, the 24th-ranked team that started the season 10–0–1 but has since stumbled in conference play. Chicago took advantage of these struggles, handing the Violets their third consecutive loss.

In less than five minutes of play, Chicago matched its total scoring for the previous three games, and the final total equalled their prior scoring for the month of October.

Gill needed just under two minutes to put the Maroons on the board with her second goal in as many games. The flurry of scoring continued with third-year midfielder Olivia Ndyabagye and fourth-year midfielder Eva DeLaurentiis following suit, each adding goals before the five-minute mark. Catalano reached the back of the net in the 36th minute to cap off the scoring for the day.

It was certainly an off day for fourth-year goalkeeper Katie Barnes, who struggled in her home finale after leading the Violets to seven shut-outs this season and allowing just five goals prior to Sunday.

“Their goalkeeper didn’t have her most memorable game. Those aren’t shots you count on to get goals,” Stroud said. “The good thing is that we got back to a sort of quiet confidence.”

That quiet confidence could be coming on at just the right time for the Maroons, as Wheaton (14–0–1), the defending DIII national champions, visit Stagg October 20 after UW–LaCrosse (8–4–1) comes in tomorrow.

“I don’t think our kids fear their jersey as much as other schools,” Stroud said of undefeated Wheaton. “It’s not that we don’t respect them; we just see them as another worthy opponent. Wheaton will be the best team we’ll play this year, but it’s not like we haven’t played strong competition.”