ST. LOUIS – For the third-straight year, the University of Chicago men's soccer team laid claim to the University Athletic Association (UAA) championship thanks to a second-half scoring binge that defeated Washington University – St. Louis 3-1 on Saturday.
The No. 4-ranked Maroons wrap up the regular season with a record of 15-2-1 overall (6-1 UAA) and claims the UAA's automatic postseason berth, while the Bears concluded their campaign at 7-7-2 (3-2-2 UAA).
The NCAA postseason bracket will be announced on Monday, with a selection show starting at Noon (CT) on NCAA.com.
It looked like either team might gain the edge after a balanced first half. But five minutes after the interval, senior striker Max Lopez nudged UChicago into the lead. A perfectly-placed long ball from sophomore right back Scott Lich found an airborne Lopez splitting two defenders and the senior made no mistake from six yards out with a drive header that the keeper's glove could not keep out of net.
WashU equalized in the 64th minute, returning the game to the even footing before senior forward Matthew Koh stepped up in the 76th minute to take a free kick from 18 yards out. His superb strike wrapped around the wall toward the near post, where it clipped down and in off the underside of the crossbar to beat the diving keeper.
The hosts barely had time to process Koh's highlight-reel score when the Maroons struck again to seal the win. Lopez playing the ball in to first-year midfielder Kyle Ruark, who smoothly chipped the keeper to double the margin.
UChicago shot 14 times with seven attempts on frame, while WashU mustered four shots on target and five overall. Although the Maroons did not take a single corner kick, they threatened from a number of attacking set pieces as the Bears racked up 19 fouls.
Physical defending and confident goalkeeping from both sides kept the first half scoreless despite a handful of opportunities that could have turned the game in either direction.
In the 23rd minute, Koh took a free kick from good position but his on-target shot flew into the arms of the keeper. A series of WashU fouls and UChicago build-up play offered further chances for service into the box. The 28th minute saw Lopez rise high above the crowd to win an attacking headerm but his shot floated high.
At the half-hour mark, the Maroons were on the brink of opening the scoring when Koh sliced into the right-hand side of the box and cut a pass back to open junior midfielder Renato Corghi near the penalty spot. Corghi turned a shot on goal but the keeper denied his effort.
After an extended stretch of Maroon ascendance, it was the Bears that had the best chance either team saw in the first 45 minutes. A header flicked high into the corner forced sophomore keeper Aaron Katsimpalis to make a leaping fingertip save that ushered the ball safely over the crossbar.
One more opportunity came for UChicago in the 37th minute as Lopez slid the ball neatly to first-year midfielder Vicente Mateus, who turned and fired only for the Bears keeper to produce another save.
Katsimpalis improved his record to 15-2-1 with one goal allowed and three saves in 90 minutes of action.