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The Chicago women’s soccer team begins postseason play today against Wartburg College at 7:30 p.m. at Loras College in Dubuque. The Maroons, ranked 21st in the country, are favored to win the contest over their unranked opponents. However, coach Amy Reifert and the rest of her coaching staff are not taking the win for granted. “We look forward to a great battle!” Reifert said. “They are a tough, hard-working talented team that has won some great games this year.”
Post season play will be both eye-opening and familiar to this unique Maroon team, composed of a large number of first-years and fourth-years. 14 of the 25 women on the roster are entering either their first or last NCAA tournament. “We start four seniors and four first-years so we have both experience and youth,” said Reifert. “The fourth-years understand what playing in the tournament means while the first-years are learning. It is a young, exciting team with lots of personality.”
First-year defender Elizabeth Doman, who garnered all UAA honors last week for her terrific play against Washington University, is one such player looking forward to entering her first NCAA postseason with the team. “Our entire team has connected really well, and I think that comes from how wonderful our upperclassmen are,” Doman said.
Upperclassman and underclassman lines blur on the field for this unified team. The team will rely again on their seemingly impenetrable defense, both due to strong defensive line play and total cohesion. “Throughout the season, we have done a great job pressuring our opponent’s back line, disrupting in the midfield, and destroying any threatening chances in the defensive third,” Doman said.
Defense has been an emphasis from day one for Coach Reifert, allowing the Maroons to stay competitive in any game. Low scoring affairs have been the Maroon’s forte this year, only losing in four of 13 contests that were decided by a single goal. “We can be in every game and be successful” said Doman.
The Maroon offense is no slouch either. Four times this season, the women have had impressively high scoring games, winning 6–0, 6–1, 4–0, and impressively slipping 11 goals into the net in a shutout of Anderson on the road. They are on a roll going into the playoffs as well; the Maroons have not lost in six games, and since October have outscored opponents 13–3.
Should the Maroons defeat Wartburg, they will go on to play the winner of the game between Loras and Aurora. Although Reifert emphasized that they were taking the tournament one game at a time and are not overlooking the game against Wartburg, the Maroons will set their sights high this postseason, as they do every postseason. Said Reifert, “Our ultimate team goal every year is to win a UAA championship and an NCAA championship.”