CHICAGO – A 66th-minute corner kick and a few close encounters with the woodwork left the University of Chicago men's soccer team on the wrong end of a 1-0 score in a fast and physical non-conference match against Carthage College at Stagg Field on Wednesday night.
After beginning the season with a 13-match unbeaten run, the No. 2-ranked Maroons have lost two-consecutive games by one-goal margins. UChicago's record now stands at 12-2-1 overall while the Red Men improved to 9-7.
Although the hosts outshot Carthage 17-10, the visitors held a 6-4 edge in shots on goal as the Maroons suffered several near misses. Tough defending was evident throughout, with the two sides combining for 28 fouls and five yellow cards.
The first half saw the Maroons retain most of the ball, but Carthage enjoyed several spells of possession and mounted counterattacks whenever the opportunity arose. The first real chance for either side came in the 11th minute when first-year attacking midfielder Vicente Mateus almost got on the end of a through ball from sophomore right back Scott Lich, but the Carthage keeper charged out and broke up the play.
The teams traded chances around the 15-minute mark. Carthage fired a long range shot with some movement, but sophomore keeper Aaron Katsimpalis handled it capably. Moments later, it was UChicago attacking down the right side, with service from Lich setting up senior striker Max Lopez for an attempted bicycle kick that skidded toward goal. In the 23rd minute, a Carthage attacker sliced through the defense and shot from the top of the box, but Katsimpalis was more than equal to the task.
The 38th minute brought the crucial moment of the first half. A Carthage player took the ball in space after a Maroon turnover, but steady harassment from junior defender Sam Drablos closed out the initial breakout opportunity. The Carthage attacker finally shuffled loose just yards from goal, only to find his shot met by a sprawling Katsimpalis. The rebound then skittered across the middle of the box, but junior midfielder Renato Corghi hit the deck twice in quick succession for a sliding clearance and tackle as the Maroons put an end to the threat.
As the second half got underway, UChicago looked ready to equalize with two superb chances in the 52nd and 53rd minutes. The first opportunity began when Mateus controlled the ball in the middle of the pitch and picked out a wide-open Lich on the right side. Lich charged down the flank and delivered a low ball right across the face of goal that Lopez redirected over the diving keeper, only to watch it glance off the crossbar and out of play. In the next moment, sophomore winger Carter Romero nearly broke through on the left side but his strong shot was saved.
Romero had an even better chance in the 57th minute as Lich lobbed a well-placed long ball that met him rushing into the box. Romero hit a leaping volley squarely, but his shot caromed off the far post and the Maroons were denied yet again.
Carthage took advantage of these mishaps in the 66th minute from a set piece. Although UChicago dealt with the initial corner kick, the ball flew out of the crowded area to a Carthage attacker waiting 25 yards out, who chested the ball down and delivered a cleanly struck half-volley into the side netting to put the visitors in front.
UChicago's offensive forays into the opposing box were consistently hamstrung due to a multitude of controversial offsides calls by the referees. The Maroons were whistled for eight offsides overall in the contest, including one which wiped out a header goal by Lopez in the first half that would have put the home side up.
Now trailing, the Maroons ratcheted up the offensive pressure, but their efforts continued to go astray. One promising cross came to an end as the whistle blew for a foul, while another saw Lopez win a contested jump ball but send his header just beyond the left post. Romero had another volleyed chance that went skyward, while in the 88th minute, an offside decision halted another potential breakthrough. The last gasp came as the ball fell to Lopez, 35 yards out in the closing seconds. He wound up and fired, but a sliding Carthage defender flew in to snuff out the effort.
Katsimpalis (12-2-1 record) collected five saves with one goal allowed.
- Friday, Oct. 26 @ 5:30 PM – New York University at UChicago