October 29, 2015

Squad readies to cement bid to NCAA playoffs

The Maroons were granted some reprieve during their tough stretch of games to close the season. Having not played since last Wednesday, the Maroons should be plenty rested and well prepared for their pair of games this weekend. After a brief hiatus from conference play to thrash Illinois neighbors Wheaton College, the Maroons now prepare to face familiar foes in Case Western Reserve on Friday and Carnegie Mellon on Sunday. While Case Western rests in a firm spot at the bottom of the University Athletic Association (UAA) standings, Carnegie Mellon will provide the Maroons with their toughest challenge of the season. To date, the undefeated Tartans have won 13 of their 14 games. The Maroons have their noses to the grindstone and, as hard as it may be, remain prepared to take the games one at a time.

The Spartans of Case Western Reserve started the year off magnificently, opening to a 6–1–2 record after their first nine games.  However, since beginning conference play, the Spartans have staggered, winning only one of their last six games. Now at 7–4–4, and 0–3–1 in the conference, the Spartans look to play spoiler to the leaders of the UAA, Carnegie Mellon, WashU, and UChicago, each of which controls its own destiny. It looks grim for the Spartans, though. During their last six games, Case Western has only been able to find the back of the net a single time in the second period of overtime against an admittedly strong Denison team.

The Case Western plan of attack seems relatively obvious and simple. Their offense is anemic, and they look to win games by playing good defense in the back and getting somewhat fortunate with the counter-attack. If the Maroons are able to crack the Spartan back line, they should be able to win the game.

The real test comes on Sunday, when the Carnegie Mellon Tartans visit Stagg Field. They are currently ranked third in the nation and have yet to lose a game. Rarely do the Tartans lapse on defense, giving up a paltry six goals thus far this season. They’ve been tested throughout the season and have stood up to each of the challenges, reaching overtime on four separate occasions but never faltering.

The Maroons look to break them down, and they will almost certainly turn to second-year Mia Calamari to provide that breakthrough. With 14 assists this season, Calamari has already broken the Chicago single-season assist record she set last year and currently is tied for third in assists amongst all Division III players.  If she is able to maintain her phenomenal form through the remaining three games of the season, the Maroons could win the stacked UAA Conference and put themselves in great position entering the Division III playoffs. The Maroons’ place in the tournament is not yet secure, but with magnificent play this weekend, they could certainly cement their place in the postseason.

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