October 5, 2015

Maroons upend Eagles to stay undefeated at home

Saturday morning, the Eagles of Emory University sauntered up to Stagg Field, confidence aplenty, eager to blemish the Maroons’ perfect 7–0 home winning streak.  Despite their even and impressive 7–3–0 records, both the Eagles and Maroons were near the bottom of the stacked UAA standings due to the fact that four of the eight teams are ranked in the top 25. This made victory in the conference opener essential for both squads.

The Maroons got the memo. In just the sixth minute of play, a well-placed clearance found the feet of lone striker Mia Calamari at about half-field. A beautiful flick-on by Calamari sent Jenna McKinney forward into the heart of the Eagles’ back line. She took it from there. The midfielder wiggled her way through five blue shirts on her path to goal before coolly playing the ball under the oncoming diving goaltender. The promising first-year found the back of the net, giving the South Siders an early 1–0 lead.

It was all the Maroons would get out of the Eagles defense. McKinney continued to wreak havoc on Emory, tallying four more shots, although the Maroons were unable to get the ball past the Emory goalkeeper a second time. It didn’t matter. One was all the Maroons would need, as first-year Piper Mik proved stingy minding the net.

The Eagles got their fair share of pressure on the Maroons, forcing Mik into eight saves. She was up to the task and doubled her collegiate career high saves in a game. The defense in conjunction with Mik has proved quite stout, especially at home where the team has only conceded twice.

However, the Maroons’ road results have proved less spectacular. The team is 0–3 on the road thus far in the season. Saturday, the ladies will travel to Rochester in search of their first away win. The 4–4–1 Yellowjackets should be an easy task for the Maroons. The Rochester offense has been less than stellar, amassing only 12 goals through nine games.

The Maroons’ defense, on the other hand, has allowed only eight goals though their 11 games. In addition to being particularly strong in the back, Chicago also has a tremendous amount of depth. Through this juncture of the season, Coach Amy Reifert has started at least six different players on defense. This incredible interchangeability has been one of the main factors in the Maroons’ success thus far.

Not to be understated, however, is Calamari’s transition from a holding midfielder to a striker.  The efficacy of Reifert’s tactical changes from last season to the current one depends very much on Calamari’s ability to play the striker position in a back-to-the-goal, distributing manner.

So far she has exceeded all expectations, scoring twice and tallying 10 assists. It is with this same excellence that the Maroons wish to perform this Saturday at Rochester as they continue conference play. The game will begin at 4 p.m. CST.

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