The No. 1 Maroons advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament by dominating the Westminster College Blue Jays 4–0 in the second round on Sunday at Stagg Field after a first round bye. Unlike Chicago, the Blue Jays had to defeat the Dubuque Spartans 3–2 on Saturday in order to earn a spot in Sunday’s match.
This year marks only the second appearance in the third round or later in program history and the first since 1996, when the South Siders lost to Kenyon 3–2 in the national semifinals.
Chicago opened the scoring just 93 seconds into the game when second-year forward Max Lopez pounced on the ball in the scramble that followed a corner kick and found first-year forward Dayo Adeosun for a point-blank finish. The strike was the team’s second quickest of the season.
The home team then put the game out of reach with three quick goals from second-year forward Matthew Koh, first-year midfielder Renato Corghi, and Lopez in the 26th, 28th, and 29th minutes, respectively.
From there, the team cruised and kept its clean sheet for the rest of the game. The lead allowed head coach Mike Babst to rotate his team and as a result 23 players received playing time.
“We just knew this opportunity isn’t going to come again, so from the start it was high intensity,” Adeosun said. He now has scored seven goals this season. “We were motivated and determined and we knew that we just had to start off with a good bang and so really we were just connecting on all cylinders. It was probably the best we ever played all season.”
The team’s victory ends a run of relatively poor form the team went through to finish the season, when it drew two of its last three and scored only two goals in that stretch. This performance also stands out from the rest of the regular season, when the Maroons were usually stronger in the second half.
“We knew we were pretty much a second half team and so we wanted to be more of a 90-minute team,” Adeosun said. “Our coach gave us a pep talk before the game and said, ‘let’s have a great game for 90 minutes,’ and we hadn’t really had a great game for 90 minutes in a while, so we just put it all together at the start with total focus on our objectives.”
The team achieved its high offensive standard despite the absence of fourth-year forward Brenton Desai, who was serving a suspension for a red card he picked up against Wash U. Desai will be eligible to return Saturday for the team’s next game, which bodes well for the squad moving forward.
The Maroons will host a four-team regional next weekend. Their next opponent will be No. 20 Redlands next Saturday at 11 a.m. The winner of that game will play the winner of the Benedictine Eagles and the St. Thomas Toms on Sunday. All three games will take place at Stagg Field.