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November 15, 2013

South Siders head to Wisconsin for NCAA tournament opener

This Saturday, the Maroons start what they hope will be a long postseason run with a match against Capital University (16–4–1) in Whitewater, WI. Two days after a home loss to No. 1 Wash U last Saturday, Chicago (11–4–3) was told that it qualified for this year’s NCAA DIII tournament for the first time in three years.

The Maroons played against a number of tough opponents this year, including conference rivals No. 1 Wash U and No. 8 Emory. Eight of the teams in the NCAA tournament are teams that the South Siders have already played, reflecting their rigorous schedule. Chicago’s competitive season will pay off now, as the team has become used to facing difficult opponents.

“We are thrilled to have been selected for the NCAA tournament,” head coach Amy Reifert said. “Our fourth-years have dedicated so much in the past four years to return to the tournament, and we are so excited for the opportunity to compete at the next level. Our play in the UAA and strong nonconference schedule have prepared us to compete in what will be a very challenging regional.”

Fourth-year team captain Beatrice Hobson is also pleased to see the team’s efforts this season rewarded with postseason play.

“Every year, our team goal is to get into the NCAA tournament,” Hobson said. “To make it this season after missing it the past two years is very exciting. We have been working for this opportunity since the first day of preseason. To see all of our hard work pay off is great.”

As the NCAA tournament is single elimination, the Maroons must to secure a win to move on.

Chicago will face Capital first. Like Chicago, Capital’s losses have been close. The Crusaders have also faced a number of NCAA qualifiers, including No. 14 Thomas More, No. 24 Hanover, and Allegheny.

The one opponent Chicago and Capital have had in common this year is Case Western (8–9–2). While Chicago defeated Case 1–0, the Crusaders fell to the Spartans 2–1. Though this should be encouraging for the Maroons, both games were close and both teams will have more on the line in the NCAA tournament, so the South Siders should expect a challenging game.

The last time the Maroons qualified for the NCAA tournament, these fourth-years were first-years. Now, these fourth-years are ready to bring their athletic careers full circle.

“As a [fourth-year], you can’t ask for a better way to end a soccer career,” Hobson said. “Anything can happen in the NCAA tournament. We have the talent and discipline to make a real run this year, and I can’t express how lucky I feel to be part of such a great team to go on this journey with.”

The Maroons will kick off against Capital this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Whitewater, WI for their first round of the NCAA Championship.

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