The Maroons’ undefeated run came to a heartbreaking end against University of Redlands on a chilly Saturday afternoon. The No. 1 South Siders were hot favorites for the game after finishing the year with a 17–1–2 record. They had reached the NCAA DIII Round of 16 for the second time in program history, and their regular season performance had earned them the honor of hosting the first and second rounds of the tournament. The No. 25 Bulldogs (18–5–1), after upsetting Chicago, next played No. 8 University of St. Thomas (19–1–3) in the NCAA Quarterfinal on Sunday, where they lost 3–2.
Redlands started the first half really well, controlling the majority of the possession. The Bulldogs made the pressure count, scoring in the first 10 minutes off a header. For the rest of the first half, the South Siders were on the attack; however, this did not count for much as the Redlands defense was rock solid, blocking everything that came into its path. But the dominance and constant probing eventually paid off at the 40th minute when first-year midfielder David McBroom’s shot deflected off a Redlands defender and found its way into the back off the net.
Redlands gained back momentum in the second half, and the Bulldogs capitalized on an error by the Maroons in the 58th minute, making the score 2–1. Another Maroon turnover increased the deficit to 3–1 when a header off the free ball rolled in at the 65th minute. Before Saturday, Chicago had not allowed a goal in the second half of a match all year. The solid defense that the Maroons prided themselves on failed them at the most inopportune moment.
Facing the two-point deficit, the South Siders acted and brought first-year defender Sam Drablos up top in an effort to utilize his heading ability. This paid off in the 76th minute when Drablos scored his fourth goal of the season to bring the score to 3–2, where it would stay.
“It was definitely a tough loss considering how much time and effort we put into being the best this year,” second-year forward Matthew Koh said. “Sometimes things just don’t go your way, but that doesn’t take anything away from what we grew to be as a team.”
And with loss, so ends Chicago’s historic season. Even though it did not end in championship glory, it was a season to remember for the Maroons, and consistent performances by young players prove promising for the future of the team.
“Looking back on this season,” Koh said, “I think we’ll begin to realize how successful of a season we had. When it comes down to it I think we all believe that, as a group, led by our senior class, [we] were the best team in the country this year.”