Maroon women's soccer returns to NCAA Sweet 16 with 2-0 win against Augsburg

Caroline Olivero and Adrianna Vera
Caroline Olivero and Adrianna Vera

CHICAGO – Home field was an advantage for the University of Chicago women's soccer team all year long, and the Maroons capitalized on the Stagg Field grass once again on Sunday afternoon. The Maroons moved to 11-0 in home contests with a 2-0 victory against Augsburg College in the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship.

The No. 11-ranked Maroons (17-3 record) reached the NCAA Round of 16 for the 10th time in school history. They will face off with No. 3-ranked Thomas More College next weekend in a four-team sectional pod hosted by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Auggies wrapped up their season with an 18-5 record.

"I've been doing this for 26 years here, and I know how difficult it is to advance to the Sweet 16 and then continue to move on," said Head Coach Amy Reifert. "So for me, it's just a thrill. I also know what it means for our kids. ... I couldn't be happier in terms of the quality of the effort, the result, and that we now get to move on."

It was a familiar matchup for both sides, as UChicago and Augsburg previously met in the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament which also occurred at Stagg Field. The Maroons won that contest 3-0.

The opening 15 minutes played out a bit disjointed with turnovers on passes negating forward momentum. But the Maroons began to establish their footing and possession as the game wore on. A potential goal was cancelled by an offside call, but UChicago struck again only one minute later to go ahead 1-0. Freshman defender Clare Suter lofted a perfectly-placed cross from the right wing to the center of the box for a waiting Caroline Olivero, and the junior forward deftly directed the ball inside the far post with a header. Freshman midfielder Hanna Watkins also assisted with a pass to Suter.

"Attacking wise, it wasn't our sharpest game when we started today," said senior midfielder Sophia Kim. "But we really want to set a standard of moving the ball around quickly, one or two touches, switching the field, moving off the ball and looking for runners through. We had to get a couple kinks out in the beginning, but I think we really started to find a rhythm."

The insurance tally came just before halftime at the 43:19 mark. Junior midfielder Mia Calamari sent a ball into the box that was not cleared by the nearest defender, and freshman forward Adrianna Vera capitalized with a quick touch in close to make it 2-0.

"It changed the whole dynamic," Reifert said of the second goal. "It changed the halftime talk, it changed your tactics for the second half. You can play a little slower, you can allow the game to play out, killing it minute by minute versus thinking we have to play it straight up and get another goal. It was huge."

Wind was a factor in the contest, with the north goal getting more action as a result. Freshman goalkeeper Katie Donovan made three of her four saves in that first half facing the wind, including some diving stops to keep Augsburg off the board.

In the second half, UChicago had the wind and maintained its possession at an even higher rate. The Maroons only allowed two shots in the final 45 minutes and picked up their 14th shutout of the season.

"I think defensively something that helped us a lot today was reading those punts from the other keeper, starting a little farther back and having our defensive center mid Kelsey [Moore] win those first balls," said senior defender Lily Wolfenzon. "Getting in for those 50/50s in the middle of the field was really where we won the game today."

UChicago ended with a 15-9 advantage in shots and a 9-4 edge in corner kicks. Donovan (17-3) played all 90 minutes between the pipes.

NEXT MATCH:

  • Saturday, Nov. 19 – UChicago vs. Thomas More College (at Whitewater, Wis.), Time TBA