The Maroons got off to a rough start this season, losing their opening dual contest in a 7–0 landslide to the University of Illinois–Chicago. Considering UIC is a DI team, the South Siders faced some of the toughest competition they will face all year in the Flames, and can only improve from this match on.
“This was the first match of the season and we played the best team we will play all season,” second-year Kelsey McGillis said.
“The loss was not disappointing. If anything, this match was a great lesson and a great reminder of what we need to work on, both individually and as a team. UIC is a great team, and we competed well against them despite the score.”
The Maroons will take this competition as a learning experience. Head coach Jay Tee, who is in his first season with Chicago, was pleased with his team’s performance against a tough opponent.
“Overall, I was pretty happy with how we competed,” Tee said. “I have a lot of history competing against UIC from my time at Cleveland State and I know how tough of a team they are. We might have been guilty of giving them a little too much credit and I thought we could have done a better job of constructing points, but that will come with experience and I’m confident we’ll get there.”
In particular, the doubles duo of first-year Helen Sdvizkhov and McGillis performed well, ending their match with a three-point lead. Unfortunately, the match was suspended before a final score was reached, because UIC had already won two out of the three doubles matches, giving them the team point in the doubles category due to DI scoring rules.
“Kelsey and Helen really stood out today and showed the rest of the team that we can compete with any team in the country,” Tee said. “It was really exciting to watch them compete.”
Because UIC is DI, this match will not count toward the Maroon’s record, and simply serves as a barometer to test the team’s readiness. With five new first-years on a team of nine girls, the team wants as much practice as possible before their important competitions in April.
“Since our team is mostly freshmen, this was a good match to warm-up for the real season matches starting in two weeks,” fourth-year Linden Li said. “I’m very proud of our team and the way we fought today.”
The Maroons will compete against UW–Green Bay next, another DI squad.
“Our experience against UIC will definitely help us in our next match,” Tee said. “We’re a young team, but we’re motivated and hardworking. I’m really looking forward to seeing what our team looks like in April. We’re only going to get better.”
The Maroons face the Phoenix on the road in Green Bay, WI, on Saturday, February 16.