The No. 19 Maroons (11–5–2) kick off their postseason in Iowa as they enter the first round of NCAAs against St. Scholastica (20–2).
It is an exciting moment for Chicago, as it makes its first NCAA appearance in five years.
“Everyone is very excited…. An NCAA appearance has been just out of our grasp in recent years, but with this year’s team we knew an NCAA appearance was not the goal but an expectation,” said fourth-year midfielder Nic Lopez.
Chicago feels confident coming off of a huge 1–0 win against Wash U this past weekend. The win clinched the UAA title for the Maroons. Despite there being much to celebrate, the squad has quickly refocused on the next challenge that lies ahead: the NCAA Tournament.
“We are a very confident team right now going into the tournament, and our focus and drive in practice reflect that,” said first-year midfielder Andre Abedian.
Chicago expects a tough match ahead of them against St. Scholastica. The Saints have “a high scoring record but losses against more notable teams” according to Lopez.
“We know they’re a team that can score goals, and their record demonstrates what a dominant force they have been in their conference this season,” fourth-year midfielder Conor Goodwin said.
Chicago is not fazed by St. Scholastica’s impressive 20–2 record. The Maroons are less worried about their opponent and are more focused on their own team and play going into this match.
“I am confident that we will pose different threats than most of the teams St. Scholastica has played this year, and the goal is to make them adjust their style and play our game. If we can impose our style on the game, I’m confident we can beat them,”Goodwin said.
“The focus has been on ourselves this week and how we can be prepared to ring our best effort out this weekend because, at our best, we can beat anyone,” Abedian said.
“Worrying less about the opponent and more about maintaining our normal level of play will fare well for us,” Lopez said.
The Maroons trust that the tough schedule they have faced this season has helped them grow successfully and prepare well, giving them the best opportunity to be successful in their postseason.
“We have grown tremendously as a team throughout the year, and I think beating Wash U and winning the UAA was a culmination of this growth,” Abedian said.
Chicago’s strength of schedule has certainly prepared them for tough tourney play.
“The UAA is arguably the highest caliber conference in the country, which makes me believe we have the best preparation in terms of competition,” Lopez said.
Kickoff for Chicago’s first NCAA game against St. Scholastica starts at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday at Wartburg College. If the Maroons come out with a win, they advance to the second round and play the winner of Wartburg vs. Milwaukee School of Engineering on Sunday at 6 p.m.