For the fall sports athletes at UChicago, the changing colors of the leaves indicate more than just the forthcoming onslaught of below-freezing temperatures; they mean it’s time to hunker down for some postseason action. This past weekend kickstarted the playoff hopes of our various Maroon teams, so here’s a quick rundown of what to look forward to in the next weeks.
The No. 2 volleyball team (24–2) looks to break through into the elite cadre of programs with a deep run in the postseason. After falling to unranked Eau Claire in their regular season finale, the Maroons will need to shake off the rust and begin their playoff aspirations this week when the UAA Championships come to Chicago. With NCAA tournament hosting duties virtually guaranteed, the team can use the conference play to further bolster confidence and teamwork against elite competition. The top-seeded Maroons will first take on the Rochester Yellowjackets at noon on Friday, November 8. On the other side of the bracket awaits Emory, the defending national champion and No. 1 team whom the Maroons defeated just three weeks earlier. No. 19 Carnegie Mellon and No. 25 Wash U will also be ready to avenge their earlier losses to the Maroons, undefeated in conference play, and make some noise heading into the NCAA tournament. After a stunning ascendance this season to the top of the polls, the UChicago team has its sights set on capturing its first UAA Championship since 2013 and creating a momentum that could carry the team in its deepest run into the NCAA Tournament in program history.
The football team (4–3) heads into a similarly pivotal game this weekend. In a matchup of the top two teams in the Midwest Conference (MWC) South division, Monmouth College edged UChicago in overtime, 21–20, in a heartbreaking loss. Behind a valiant effort on defense and a ferocious running game, the Maroons fell just inches short of the goal line on a potentially game-winning two-point conversion. With the win, Monmouth nabbed the top seed in the division and the spot in the MWC championship game to play the winner of St. Norbert–Lake Forest. The Maroons slipped to 2–1 in conference play and set up a crucial game against Illinois College, also sitting at 2–1 in conference and in second place in the division, on November 9. A win against Illinois College would ensure that the program finishes with a third consecutive winning season and would send the senior class out with a bang.
The cross-country teams ran in the UAA conference meet over the past weekend, where the men secured third place and the women second. While the predictably strong core of women runners led to their fourth-straight runner-up finish, the story of the day was third-year Ryan Cutter for the men. With a mad dash over the final 40 meters of the race that culminated in a 0.31-second lead, Cutter claimed the top individual placing, the first time a Maroon has done so on the men’s side since 2003. The men, currently No. 7 in the country, took bronze behind No. 9 Wash U and No. 4 Carnegie Mellon. Fourth-year captain Claire Brockway paced the women to finish fourth individually at 22:14.99, while teammates Maggie Boudreau, a fellow fourth-year captain, and third-year Sophie Elgamal crossed seconds behind. The women, also ranked No. 7 in the country, placed second only to No. 2 Wash U, defending UAA and national champion. The cross-country team will travel to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the NCAA Regional Championships on November 16 with the aim of qualifying for the NCAA National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on November 23.
The men and women’s soccer team will face Wash U on November 9 in the continuation of a heated rivalry. The No. 16 women will try to play spoiler to the No. 3 Bears, who are currently undefeated in conference and clinched the conference title over this past weekend. For a team hoping to garner some serious momentum ahead of the NCAA tournament, a win against Wash U, who made it to the Final Four last season, would certainly do the trick. On the flip side, the No. 6 Maroons men’s team will look to wrap up another undefeated UAA conference season, in which they’ve already claimed the title for the fourth consecutive year. The Maroons advanced all the way to the Final Four the last two seasons and are hungry to nab that elusive national championship.