Coming off an up-and-down performance on the road this weekend, women’s soccer now must toe a much less certain path in order to make the NCAAs.
After beating NYU (9–7–1, 0–5–1 UAA) 2–1 on Friday afternoon, Chicago (13–3–1, 3–2–1) finished their east coast trip with a deflating 2–0 loss at Brandeis (8–6–3, 2–3–1). The loss ended the Maroons’ UAA title hopes, and it jeopardizes their chances of making it out of the highly-competitive central region in the postseason.
Chicago used two goals from third-year standouts in the first half to defeat the Violets. Midfielder Emily Benoit scored from five yards out on a shot to the top right corner, putting the Maroons ahead in the 10th minute. Forward Sarah Loh doubled the advantage in the 22nd minute, when she successfully converted a breakaway chance against NYU goalkeeper Alex Walters.
With that goal, Loh is now tied with fourth-year forward Brooke Bontz for the team scoring lead, with 10 goals apiece. Uncharacteristically, Bontz didn’t record a shot against NYU, but she still made a major contribution by assisting on both goals.
The Violets cut their deficit in the 59th minute, when midfielder Emily Jenkinson found the bottom left corner of the Chicago net with a low shot, but they were unable to score an equalizer in the remaining 31 minutes.
Statistically, the Maroons dominated both halves. Chicago outshot NYU 6–2 in the first period, and 8–3 in the second.
The shots were much more even in Sunday’s game—both the Maroons and the Judges tallied 14 shots, but Brandeis scored the only two goals.
Midfielder Sofia Vallone scored the first goal in the 33rd minute, when she turned forward Melissa Gorenkoff’s cross into the lower left of the Maroons’ goal. Tiffany Pacheco earned the insurance goal by taking advantage of a rare miscue by Chicago’s second-year goalkeeper, Emma Gormley. When Gormley misplayed the ball in the goalmouth, the opportunistic forward capitalized by driving it into the top right corner of the goal.
Fourth-year goalkeeper Hillary Rozenweig made eight saves to collect the clean sheet for Brandeis. She became the first goalkeeper to shut out the Maroons in 23 games, dating back to October 17 of last year, when she accomplished the same feat in a 1–0 Brandeis win.
The Maroons will no doubt rue their inability to score, in light of the number of opportunities they had. Chicago earned eight corner kicks to the Judges’ zero, but Chicago let Brandeis off the hook when they failed to convert any of their corners into a goal.
In their remaining games, Chicago needs to be more opportunistic not only at set pieces but also from the run of play. Twenty-eight shots and 14 corner kicks over two games ought to translate into more than two goals for a team as talented as the Maroons.
Just how many games are, in fact, left in Chicago’s season is still to be determined. The loss to Brandeis means that Chicago can finish no higher than third in the UAA, behind both Wash U (13–2–1, 5–0–1) and Rochester (12–3–2, 5–1).
Out of contention for an automatic bid to the tournament, the Maroons must hang their hopes on an at-large bid. Whether they earn one depends in large part on the result of Saturday’s crucial home game against Wash U. Given their current central region ranking—fourth, with a new poll to be released tomorrow—Chicago ought to make the NCAAs with a win, but a tie will put them on the bubble, and a loss would likely leave them on the outside, looking in.