May 18, 2007

Time to break out the ballots

With the end of the year only weeks away, it’s almost time for the annual All-Maroons online voting. In each issue leading up to the final All-Maroons results, we’ll provide a closer look at nominees for select categories. This issue brings you the top plays of 2006–2007.

Gone in seven seconds: Hamilton stuns Violets

Down 1–0 in the final minute of a crucial UAA match at Stagg, men’s soccer needed a miracle. Enter third-year striker Andrew Hamilton.

“Our last chance was being counted down by the announcer and something in me said, ‘It ain’t over until it’s over,’” Hamilton said at the time. “The ball got knocked down and popped right in front of me, and I made sure I was calm and didn’t think of anything else until I saw the ball hit the net. ”

With seven seconds left to play, Hamilton settled a corner kick from first-year Alex Takakuwa and fired the ball home to send his team—and the crowd—into hysterics as NYU stood on in disbelief.

Cat-trick! Catalano nets three goals on set pieces

Third-year defender Amanda Catalano entered her October 28 game against NYU with a grand total of zero goals in a Chicago uniform. Catalano, a longtime fan of English soccer star David Beckham, broke out of her drought with a first-half explosion that would have made her idol proud.

With the game only 10 minutes old, Catalano got the Maroons on the board with an in-swinging corner that brushed off the hands of the goalie. Twenty minutes later, she struck again, this time off of a direct kick, and again, just minutes before halftime, she found the back of the net on a play nearly identical to the first one.

For good measure, Catalano tallied an assist on the squad’s fourth goal to start the second half and cap off a day to remember.

Seniors step up for wrestling at UAAs

With two key athletes on the sideline, wrestling’s UAA title hopes hinged on a pair of grapplers competing outside of their natural weight classes. Battling injuries, wrestling’s seniors handled adversity the only way they knew how: They stepped up and won.

Down by three points with only two matches left, the Maroons needed two wins, or they would face the disappointment of back-to-back trophy-less seasons. Fourth-year Ben Barnes did his part at 197. Trailing 1–0 going into the final minute of his match, he pulled off a stunning reversal to grab the victory and send the meet to its deciding bout. Then it was his classmate Drew Marriott’s turn.

Any doubt that the Ratner crowd had about the outcome was quickly extinguished as Marriott scored the first two takedowns and ran away with the match 10–4 to clinch the league championship over NYU.

Case closed: Pancratz better late for hoops

First-year Jake Pancratz picked the perfect moment to pull off the two biggest plays of his young career. The Case Spartans entered their early February showdown at Ratner without a win in league play, but for 39 minutes, it looked as if they just might pull off the upset. That’s when Pancratz put the team on his back in a fitting ending to a game that saw him contribute on both ends with five steals and five assists.

Down by two in the final minute, Pancratz hit a jumper to tie it and then, after a huge defensive stop, hit a layup with 10 seconds left to give the Maroons the lead for good. The bucket was a crucial one, securing the squad’s share of the UAA title.

Men’s 400-yard medley relay swims to best finish

For years, men’s swimming has been the bottom feeder of the UAA pool, and in no place was that more evident than in the relay events. In races that, more than anything else, reflect the depth of a squad, the Maroons struggled mightily.

So it was understandable that the 400-meter medley relay entered the UAA championships only cautiously optimistic. In first place after fourth-year Pat Seastedt’s PR in the second leg, the team entered the final leg with everything up for grabs.

“I think it was sort of at that moment that a lot of the other teams started doing double takes and looking, and going, ‘Wow, they are going pretty fast.’ No one expected us to go that fast,” head coach Jason Weber said at the time.

Fourth-year James Viccarro was nipped at the finish by an Emory All-American, but the second-place showing was the squad’s best-ever in a relay and shattered the existing school record.

Photo finish: Chen nips Obuchowski for UAA title in the dash

After years of being carried by the team’s distance runners, Chicago’s young sprinters burst onto the UAA scene in a big way. In their first conference action, first-years Bill Cheng and Blake Obuchowski put on a show at the conference championships with a photo-finish.

Bursting out ahead of the competition, the two Maroons crossed the line at nearly the exact same moment, leading to a post-race debate over who actually won. In the end, it was Cheng’s 6.53 mark that took the gold and Obuchowski “settled” for second with a time of 6.54. Cheng became only the second runner in program history to earn the conference’s “fastest man” title.

Cozzi punches out Bears in St. Louis

Taking on 13th-ranked Wash U in St. Louis, fourth-year righty Dan Cozzi saved his best for last. Against a squad that has historically given the Maroons fits, Cozzi spun a masterpiece, keeping the Bears hitters off balance all game long. Clinging to a 5–2 lead entering the seventh inning of play, the squad’s number-two starter seemed to be tiring. He conceded two runs in the frame on three hits, and it looked like the home side was on track for its offensive break-out.

But Cozzi ended the inning with a double play, pitched out of another jam in the eighth, and entered the last of the ninth with a 5–4 lead and all the chips on the table. The captain rose to the challenge with some of his best pitches of the day, striking out the leadoff hitter and then fanning the next one for good measure before ending the game with a groundout.

Wade goes deep for softball in Family Day win

In a season that witnessed a historic power surge at Stagg softball field, it was only fitting that the squad’s final weekend home game featured a milestone home run from a fourth-year star.

Petra Wade had never been a slouch at the plate, DHing on days when she wasn’t pitching and posting an on-base percentage that was good for second on the team. During her illustrious career in Hyde Park, though, she had not once slugged a home run. That all changed on Family Day. With the squad leading 2–1 in the bottom of the third, Wade stepped up to the plate with a runner on first. One swing later it was 4–1, and the Maroons were well on their way to another rout.