SPORTS

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October 12, 2021

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8:26 p.m.

Maroons and Yellowjackets Bring Drama to the Pitch

UChicago soccer fans were treated to an eventful Saturday on the pitch as the women’s team battled to a frustrating tie and the men’s team secured a dramatic overtime win against their intraconference foe, the University of Rochester Yellowjackets.  

In the first game of the day, the women’s team remained undefeated at 10-0-2 after a 1-1 tie. For the No. 7 Maroons, it was a surprising outcome as the visiting Yellowjackets (5-3-2) capitalized on an early goal and did just enough to slow the Maroons’s usually-explosive forward line. In the second game, the men’s team, currently sitting at No. 20 nationally, escaped a similar fate thanks to an overtime goal from second-year Maina Ngobia. The win lifted the men to 8-3-1 overall and 1-1 in the University Athletic Association (UAA) conference.  

The women’s game began with the Rochester women on the attack; only 29 seconds into the game, their third shot found the back of the net. It was just the fourth goal that fourth-year goalkeeper Miranda Malone had surrendered all season.  

Yet the Maroons remained confident in their forward line, which entered the match averaging 5.64 goals per game. Less than 90 seconds after that stunning first goal, fourth-year striker Adriana Shutler fired a shot off the crossbar. The Maroons would continue to pepper Rochester with shots, tallying a total of 28 during the match.  

Third-year striker Hannah Rittenhouse eventually broke through the opponents’ defense—as she has throughout the season. A transfer from the University of Iowa, Rittenhouse notched the equalizer with her team-leading eleventh goal off a penalty kick in minute 36. With six games remaining on the schedule, she has already recorded more single-season goals than all but seven women’s players in UChicago history.  

The Maroons seemed destined to pull off the comeback win with more shots (28-13), shots on goal (11-6), and corner kicks (12-1) than the Yellowjackets. But a second goal proved elusive even after 110 minutes of action. Fourth-year striker Nicole Kaspi, a consistent source of playmaking, nearly scored the game-winner, but her header clanged off the left post. The Maroons were forced to settle for a tie. However frustrating the outcome, “we are off to a great start this season,” insists Rittenhouse, and the game “was good competition that will continue to prepare us for the upcoming UAA games over the next couple weeks.”  

In the second half of the double-header, the men’s team defeated Rochester by a score of 1-0. The Maroons came out pressing on offense, outshooting the Yellowjackets 8-1 in the first half, but the visitors proved a stout defense. The teams’ stylistic contrast was masked by a scoreless first half; the Maroons outshot the visitors 8-1, but Rochester, searching for a timely counterattack, held stout.  

The Yellowjackets nearly found that counterattack—and the game-winning goal—with less than ten minutes remaining in regulation. But the Maroon defenders blocked the visitors’ free-kick in minute 83 to keep the score tied at zero. It was characteristic of a defensive line that did not allow a shot on goal throughout the game and has limited opponents to 0.57 goals per game this season.  

On the other side, the Maroons struggled to score, despite securing six shots on goal. Fourth-year midfielder Vicente Mateus had the chance to finish the game in regulation with a free kick in the 88th minute, but Rochester goalkeeper Santino Lupica-Tondo saved the shot near the right post.  

Locked at 0-0, the game headed to a sudden-death overtime where Ngobia recorded his first-ever goal for UChicago—a clutch one, at that. He collected the pass from fourth-year Sahil Modi in space on the right side of the goal. Twenty yards from the goal and at a less-than-favorable angle, Ngobia seemed to have few options other than a cross. Instead, he fired a heater into the top corner, catching the Rochester defense and, most importantly, Lupica-Tondo off-guard. The ball extended past the diving goalkeeper to give UChicago the win, and the Maroons celebrated, engulfing Ngobia in a dogpile.  

Both men’s and women’s teams will play against UAA rival Brandeis on Friday, October 15. On the women’s side, it will be their first match-up against another team ranked in the top 25, while the men have the opportunity to rise in the UAA standings. As this weekend reminded fans and athletes alike, one can expect drama to accompany all games in the ultra-competitive UAA.