Chicago’s late-game woes continued in an up-and-down weekend of conference play in which they showed plenty of quality, but left three out of a potential six points on the table. After a thrilling 1–0 victory over #9 Brandeis, the Maroons found themselves back at the bottom of the UAA standings after losing 2–1 to #20 NYU in overtime.
“We wanted to win at NYU, it would’ve made this a great season,” first-year midfielder Jorge Bilbao said. “But now we’re cutthroat. We can’t lose any more games if we want to make [the postseason]; it’s a lot of pressure on our backs.”
Chicago (7–3–3, 1–2–1 UAA) started off their weekend against a Brandeis (12–1–1, 2–1–1 UAA) squad riding a 17-game unbeaten streak. Playing on the faster artificial turf of Stagg Field’s football stadium for the first time all season, the Maroons created offense right out of the gate. In the 10th minute, Chicago got the first good chance of the game through Michael Choquette on a free kick. They broke through two minutes later, as forward Kyle Kurfirst pounced on an errant throw-in before playing Jorge Bilbao in for a left-footed goal from 15 yards out.
“It’s really exhilarating,” said Bilbao of his recent form, which has seen him score a goal in three straight games. “I owe a lot of it to my teammates for putting me at the right place at the right time.”
Head coach Scott Wiercinski broke his usual goalkeeping platoon, playing first-year goalkeeper David Cohen for the full ninety minutes. Cohen rewarded his coach’s faith with seven saves—three of them in a crucial second half—and his second shutout of the season.
Chicago had a chance to double their lead at the start of the second half on a Michael Choquette penalty, but the Judges’ senior goalkeeper, Blake Minchoff, made a diving stop to keep the game within reach for Brandeis. For the rest of the half, the Maroons’ back line managed to stifle the visitors, holding them to four shots to help deal the Judges their first defeat of the season.
“Unlike many other games, we managed to kill the game and secure the win,” Bilbao said. “In the last minutes, it got really intense.”
The South Siders were back in action on Sunday against the Violets in their last home game of the season. Bilbao spotted the Maroons another early lead with a free kick from 30 yards out that bounced off of the goalkeeper’s hands. Cohen denied the visitors an equalizer with a point-blank save in the 19th minute, and the referees restored the Maroons’ 1–0 lead after an apparent goal in the 38th minute was ruled offside.
Despite firing 19 shots on the game, 12 of them on goal, Chicago was unable to find a decisive goal after NYU’s high-octane offense equalized in the 58th minute as the Violets’ Nimo Bergstroem scored on a long ball from midfielder Niki Chow. Two minutes into overtime—the fifth time this season the Maroons have seen extra time—NYU’s Shawn Gray-McNitt fired a laser into the far post for the golden goal.
“We didn’t make too many mistakes in regular time,” Bilbao said. “But two minutes into overtime we managed to mess up once, and we got punished for it.”
With a 1–2–1 conference record, the Maroons stand in seventh place in the UAA with four points—a win over NYU would have seen them tied for first with seven points and three games left to play. The Maroons are back in action next Sunday in a non-conference matchup against UW–Whitewater.