Men’s soccer won its last UAA conference game of the season against the WashU Bears this weekend.
The Maroons came into the game ranked sixth in the nation and having already secured their place in the NCAA postseason tournament. Before kickoff, there was a brief ceremony to honor the seniors on the team. Seniors Sam Barovick, Renato Corghi, and Nate Johnson stood for a photo with their families.
The Maroons lined up for the first half in a 3–4–3 formation, while the Bears were organized in a 4–3–3.
After just eleven minutes, midfielder Vincente Mateus picked up the ball right outside the 18-yard box and split the Bears’ defense with a through pass. Scott Lich was put one-on-one with the keeper and placed the ball in the bottom left corner to give the Maroons the lead.
The Bears tried to break out of their half, but they struggled to defend the Maroons’ play on the wings. Junior Bryce Millington posed a constant threat on the left side of the field, swinging in crosses and creating space for his teammates with delayed runs while still tracking back to help defend when the opponents were attacking.
In the 24th minute, the Maroons won a free kick on the top corner of the box. Freshman Kameron Bloye curled a cross over the defenders’ heads, finding Bryce at the back post, who made the score 2–0 with his fifth goal of the season. Ten minutes later, Kameron almost found the back of the net of himself when he volleyed a cross off the woodwork.
Bears’ midfielder Makio Yamamato caused problems for the Maroons’ defense, intercepting loose passes and almost creating goals. The first time he set up a teammate who put the ball wide of the goal; the second time goalkeeper Aaron Katsimpalis was quick off his line to grab the ball from Makio’s feet.
The third and final goal of the game came with six minutes left in the first half. Freshman Michael Johnson dribbled through three players before passing the ball to the center of the box, where forward Peyton Lane was waiting to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
The Maroons spent more time defending after the Bears began playing more aggressively in the second half. After halftime, the Maroons switched to a 5–3–2 formation and could absorb more offensive pressure, finding most of their chances on the counter. The Bears’ play sharpened as the half progressed, but they were ultimately unable to convert any opportunities despite having ten shots to the Maroons’ eight at the end of the game.
With this win under their belt, the Maroons’ record stands at 11–1–5 overall and 7–0–0 in league. They are only the second school to win the league without conceding a single goal. The team is looking ahead to their postseason now; they will find out who their first opponent will be in the NCAA tournament on Monday.
Reflecting on the season, head coach Pat Flinn said that the team’s approach to training so far is well-suited for tournament play, and that “every game for us has been totally different; we’ve played different systems, different players have stepped up, and that is similar to what’s needed in the NCAA tournament.”
But he also recognized that the tournament can exhaust the players more quickly than the regular season does. “The biggest difference for the tournament is that we have to play slightly differently, because you play Saturday and Sunday, so there’s some consideration for the second game while you’re playing the first game, which is different to the regular season.”
He said the team has big ambitions for the tournament. “Our goal is to make it to the end of the tournament, not just survive one round.”