BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Maroons went blow-for-blow all night with the defending conference champions and mounted a thrilling last-minute comeback, but in the end the University of Chicago women's lacrosse team was left barely on the wrong side of an 8-7 road result against Illinois Wesleyan University on Wednesday night.
UChicago (11-2, 3-1 CCIW) traded goals with the host Titans (12-2, 4-0 CCIW) throughout the first 30 minutes, leaving it deadlocked 4-4 at the break. Illinois Wesleyan scored the next four goals as the Maroons struggled to find an offensive opening until first-year midfielder Karina Schulze buried a free-position shot with 7:37 remaining. Her goal and a series of hard-charging attacks from first-year midfielder Audrey Kaus brought UChicago back within one, but the tying score eluded the Maroons' best efforts.
Kaus notched a team-high four goals as UChicago mustered just 16 shots, with 12 on target. The Titans, by comparison, launched 25 with 17 on goal. The low scoring tally between teams that both averaged over 16 goals per game heading into the contest reflected the pressure of two swarming defenses throughout a fast-paced, end-to-end battle.
Junior goalie Honor Crandell did her part with nine saves, including a handful from point-blank range, while Schulze caused four turnovers. Schulze also claimed six draws, although as a team Illinois Wesleyan won that category 10-7. The Titans also held a 19-14 advantage in the race for ground balls.
The Maroons defended well from the outset but Illinois Wesleyan employed a high press that made the visitors work hard to carry the ball into the attacking third. However, UChicago took advantage of a yellow card issued to the Titans as Kaus converted a free-position shot to get her team on the scoreboard first. The hosts did not take long to equalize, with sharp passing finding an open cutter to make it 1-1.
UChicago fended off more Titan attacks and after a long Maroon possession, Kaus gathered beyond the top of the arc and pushed forward through the right-hand side before slotting it home to regain the lead. A converted free position evened matters again, then the Titans found net once more to claim a 3-2 lead midway through the first half.
First-year attacker Lally Johnson had seen her previous efforts to start the attack wrapping around from behind the left-hand side of goal rebuffed, but as the clock ticked under eight minutes she fought her way over the middle and fired across her body for the Maroons' third goal.
While Illinois Wesleyan kept the visitors under pressure, the UChicago defense closed down attacks effectively, breaking up entry passes and rushing shots. Another yellow card shortly before the interval presented an opportunity for the Maroons and first-year attacker Anna Rosloniec capitalized on a free-position shot flung low into the near corner with 1:09 to go. The Titans, however, won the draw and scored just nine seconds later, a rapid response that would prove crucial in the final tally.
As the second half began, it was the Titans' turn to score with an extra player, and a few minutes later Illinois Wesleyan scored again as an attacker slipped free after a scramble in front of goal. This provided the hosts with the first multiple-goal margin of the game, one they would extend twice over the next 10 minutes while the Maroons searched for an answer of their own. Illinois Wesleyan made it 8-4 with just over 15 minutes to play, a score which grew more imposing as time ran off the clock and UChicago's scoring drought wore on.
The Maroons made the most of the flash of hope Schulze offered with her free-position goal, as Kaus rumbled up the middle and slammed home another a minute later. Schulze won the ensuing draw and it seemed like UChicago were off again as first-year midfielder Ali Sheehy drew a hard foul in front of goal, but as she dashed in from the free position and wound up to shoot, a Titan defender chopped the ball loose. With a little under five minutes left, Kaus came flying in again to earn a free position on the left side and launched it into the back of the net, leaving the Maroons only one goal behind.
Illinois Wesleyan captured the draw, but dogged defending from UChicago ultimately forced a shot clock violation. A free position on the next possession offered Kaus a tying chance, but her low shot flew inches left of the far post. The Maroons took possession one last time with 19 seconds remaining, but the ball came loose as they rushed it upfield and Illinois Wesleyan pounced to secure the win.
- Saturday, April 20 @ 2:00 PM – University of Dubuque at UChicago