October 8, 2015

Maroons look to find their footing on the road

Last weekend the Maroons began conference play with a wonderful 1–0 result over Emory here in Chicago. This weekend the women’s soccer team continues its stretch of UAA fixtures. The Maroons will step onto the turf-laden pitch of Edwin Fauver Stadium at the University of Rochester for their second conference match.

The 4—4—1 Yellowjackets are a youthful team. Their starting lineup features five first-years and four second-years. Only three of last year’s starters are still in Rochester’s starting lineup, while the other eight graduated, are injured, or have been relegated to substitute roles. The Yellowjackets’ youth makes them an enigma of sorts. They have had disappointing results thus far in the season, but many teams with a lot of new pieces take a while to get going. Individual players must become acclimated to the team’s style of play and become accustomed to their roles. They also must develop the trust that the other players will be making the anticipated runs and be in a proper formation. This takes time.

If the Yellowjackets had shown signs of improvement in their most recent matches, it would be a sign of the team’s increased chemistry and would make the upcoming fixture much more dangerous for the Maroons. This is not the case. The Yellowjackets are on a two-game losing streak, and over their last four games the team has scored only a single goal.

This weakness will almost certainly be the downfall of the Yellowjacket team. The Maroons, in contrast to the youth and inexperience of Rochester, have assimilated the two first-year starters with relative ease, and the defensive unit is full of returners. Anchored by defensive midfielder and captain Nicole Mullen, the Maroons have stifled their opponents at almost every juncture of the game. The Maroons have provided their opponents with a measly eight goals throughout their 11 games. Save a monumental defensive blunder, it is hard to imagine an out-of-form Rochester attack producing for the home side.

Meanwhile, the Maroons should be able to take advantage of the Rochester back line. Up to this point in the season, the Rochester defense has proven too immature to maintain solid formation for 90 minutes. The Maroon offense is built to take advantage of this. The counter-attacking, fast-paced style that the team seems to prefer has a knack for taking advantage of poor positioning and collapses of formation. With the speed of Naomi Pacalin and Jenna McKinney on the outside, any lapse in concentration by the Yellowjacket back line has the potential to be devastatingly punished.

Coming home from Rochester, the Maroons expect to be at least tied atop the UAA conference standings.

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