After 110 minutes of gameplay, in which they were largely on the defensive, the Maroons’ conference opener against Carnegie Mellon on Saturday ended in a 0–0 tie. Chicago (7–2–1) held the No. 14–ranked Tartans (6–1–2) scoreless through double overtime to get off to a 0–0–1 start in conference play.
The Maroons may not have earned a victory, but the team was happy with its performance. The South Siders showcased their defensive stability as they held off wave after wave of Tartan offense.
“We competed very well against Carnegie for fifty-fifty balls and second balls in addition to causing deflections in the midfield,” said assistant coach Bannon Stroud. “We will have to continue this going forward throughout the season. All conference games are going to be a slugfest.”
From the start, the Tartans put the South Siders on the back foot with four shots in the first half to Chicago’s one and kept up the pressure throughout the game. The Tartans tallied 11 shots overall while the South Siders were held to just two.
Both of Chicago’s scoring opportunities fell to fourth-year captain Natalia Jovanovic, who took a shot off of a free kick in the second period of overtime but was just high and wide. Another team standout was third-year goalkeeper Jacinda Reid, who recorded four saves.
With the second half of their season now underway, the Maroons are focused on qualifying for the NCAA tournament. The coming week will be vital in establishing their NCAA and UAA credentials. Chicago faces No. 1 Wheaton and conference rivals No. 7 Emory in the space of four days.
“Our team goals each year are to make the NCAA tournament, and the best way to do that is to win the UAA automatic berth,” Stroud said. “No doubt this is the pivotal week in our season. Wheaton is a huge rivalry game, and of course we have to take three points at home from Emory.”
Though the Maroons will have home-field advantage against Wheaton, the game will be a serious challenge. The Thunder is currently undefeated, having won all 11 of its games this season.
However, both Chicago and Wheaton have played North Central College and University of St. Thomas this season, and in both cases the Maroons won by a wider margin than the Thunder did.
“We have to stay organized on defense and eliminate quick opportunities for them to get out in transition,” Stroud said. “You have to force them into a defensive posture and try to slow down their offense.”
The Maroons will take on the Thunder this Wednesday on Stagg Field at 4 p.m.