CHICAGO – With the 2016 season kicking off on Thursday, the University of Chicago women's soccer team kept its season-opening win streak rolling with a 2-0 shutout of visiting Calvin College.
The No. 21-ranked Maroons (1-0) have now won the season opener six-straight years, with a combined score of 15-2 over that time. They also avenged last season's 3-1 loss to the No. 11-ranked Knights (0-1).
Both UChicago and Calvin qualified for the 2015 NCAA Division III Championship field, with the Maroons reaching the second round and the Knights advancing to the quarterfinals. Calvin's stingy defense last year compiled 16 shutouts (64 percent of games). But on Thursday afternoon, the Knights could not hold up against the Maroon attack.
After a relatively uneventful opening 12 minutes, UChicago put its first shot on goal. The home side continued to control the action all throughout the first half and outshot the visitors 8-0. The Maroons manufactured dangerous chances in the goalie box and nearly struck pay dirt in the 43rd minute. Junior forward Mia Calamari launched a corner kick into the box and the ensuing header by sophomore defender Sydney Mathis rocketed straight into the underside of the crossbar. Unfortunately, the ball bounced straight down and then out, keeping the match scoreless.
The momentum was on UChicago side, however, and less than 90 seconds later, the ball was in the net. Sophomore midfielder Jenna McKinney put together a stellar solo effort, dribbling through a cavalcade of defenders on the top left side of the box and booting a peerless left foot past the goalkeeper at 43:48. It marked the second-straight year she has scored in the first game. In her 2015 debut, McKinney netted her first career goal only 5:26 into the match against Kalamazoo College.
Madori Spiker was also a focal point of the attack. The junior was the tip of the spear on forward runs and received several touches in close. With three shots on the day, she was not snake bitten for long. It was McKinney again starting the action with a threaded through ball from the left side to the center of the box. Spiker was in position and calmly stowed the goal into the back of the netting.
The run of play evened out a bit as the second half wore on. But Calvin was unable to create quality chances against UChicago's defense, which kept wide runs at a minimum. Katie Donovan (1-0) was the beneficiary as the freshman goalie faced only two shots on goal in her collegiate debut.
Shots (14-4) and corner kicks (6-1) both finished firmly in UChicago's favor.
- Sunday, Sept. 4 – Aurora University at UChicago, 1 PM