With aspirations set high this year, Sunday's conference opener was a reminder that the Maroons still have to take the season one game at a time.
Unable to light up the scoreboard despite good pressure, women's soccer (5-2-1, 0-1-0 UAA) lost to undefeated Carnegie Mellon 2-0. The loss was only the second of Chicago's season and the first since the season opener.
The Tartans (7-0-2, 1-0-0) jumped out to an early lead in the 10th minute, taking advantage of fourth-year defender Diana Connett's obstruction foul outside Chicago's box. With the quick restart sending the defense scrambling, Carnegie second-year defender Amanda Rose's free kick bounced off the left post where third-year midfielder Lisa Pascoli tipped the ball past diving fourth-year keeper Andrea Przybysz.
For the rest of the game, Chicago generated multiple scoring opportunities, but couldn't seem to finish when the time came. The Maroons out-shot Carnegie 13-5 over the course of the game, and they drew three corner kicks to Carnegie's one.
"We gave up an early goal, and as much as we tried, we could not find a way to put the ball into the back of the net," fourth-year left back Ellen Fitzgerald said. "Unfortunately, that's just the nature of the game; the better team doesn't always win."
Chicago dominated the second half offensively, and in the 58th minute, the attackers generated what ended up being the best opportunity of the game. Fourth-year striker Renee Neuner's tapped fourth-year midfielder Jacqui de Leon's pass to the left corner of the goal, but the would-be equalizer was cleared by fourth-year defender Mollie Salpeter at the goal line. The Tartans sealed the victory with less than four minutes left, as Rose tallied her second helper of the match, setting up a header off another free kick.
The Maroons have struggled with a "Carnegie Curse" in recent years, tying them each year from 2002-2004 and losing in this weekend's match up. Chicago's 2001 victory came 2-1 at home.
The team also had to adapt to playing on a turf pitch, which provides truer but different bounces and pace. "We still should have won the game, but we never really got comfortable playing on the turf," fourth-year defender Elise Aiken said. "Obviously they practice on it every day, so it gave them a bit of an advantage."
Though a couple missteps proved the difference in Sunday's game, Chicago's defensive unit will continue to play a critical role for the team as the offense tries to find its footing.
Chicago hosts Calvin College (8-1-1) in a 4:15 p.m. match today at Stagg Field before returning to UAA action this Saturday against conference rival Emory.