CHICAGO – Despite constant attacking pressure and a frenzied finish that seemed sure to produce an equalizer, the 10th-ranked University of Chicago women's soccer team could not find an answer to New York University's 4th-minute goal, as the Violets left Stagg Field with a 1-0 upset victory on Friday afternoon.
It marked UChicago's first loss in the University Athletic Association and only its second defeat this season. The hosts' record fell to 13-2-1 (4-1 UAA) while NYU improved to 9-4-3 (4-0-1 UAA).
The Maroons fired 29 shots, but near misses and a crucial intervention from the crossbar kept the ball from hitting the back of the net – as did an outstanding performance from NYU goalkeeper Meghan Marhan, who made 11 saves and stood on her head to prevent a tying score in the last hectic half-hour of play. By comparison, NYU only mustered five shots and conceded 10 corner kicks to the Maroons, who gave up just one in return.
In a game that saw UChicago almost always on the attack, numerous chances nearly supplied a game-altering score. Perhaps the most critical was Katie Jasminski's 79th minute header, a superb effort that beat the keeper only to catch the underside of the crossbar.
The Maroons had the first opportunity when a crunching tackle brought down senior Jenna McKinney just outside the area, but the free kick that followed missed high. Instead, NYU nabbed the opening goal on its first move upfield moments later, slipping the ball ahead to an attacking Violet who poked it past onrushing keeper Katie Donovan to give the visitors an early edge that would eventually prove decisive.
UChicago strung together a number of attacks in response. Their best chance came when McKinney unleashed a curling shot from the top of the box, but the diving Marhan palmed it wide. Not long after, another ball found McKinney up the middle, but a defender deflected her effort from closer range.
Over the next 20 minutes, UChicago kept the pressure on the NYU defense but could not produce another clear-cut chance at the tying goal. In fact, it was the Violets who came nearest to the game's second goal when a long ball down the right side sparked a brief counter-attack in the 40th minute. However, Donovan was there to make a confident save on a powerful shot. In the final seconds of the half, first-year forward Nikola Charouzova uncorked a long-range effort that rose above the bar and the teams entered the break with one score still the difference between them.
Growing urgency provoked a flurry of shots from the Maroons in the minutes leading up to the one-hour mark. Things nearly came to a head in the 61st minute as junior midfielder Rachel Dias supplied a swerving, dangerous corner kick in toward the far post, but alert goalkeeping rescued the Violets before an attacker could get onto the ball.
The Maroons did not let up, and in the 63rd minute junior midfielder Hanna Watkins won a contested header in the six-yard box only to see the ball drift outside the left post. After enduring this prolonged attack, NYU let loose with a brief counter-attack of its own. Chasing down the ball, the Maroon defender got tangled up with a Violet attacker a step outside the penalty box, earning a booking and conceding a free kick that sophomore keeper Miranda Malone handled without any fuss.
Right away, UChicago reclaimed the initiative as first-year forward Nicole Kaspi offered a shot from 25 yards out that skimmed over the crossbar.
NYU looked to put the game away when a two-on-one counter-attack broke out with 15 minutes left, but an open shot from the top of the arc sailed high above the frame of goal.
Unperturbed, UChicago once again took up the offensive, but it became increasingly difficult to crack the NYU defense as a pair of holding midfielders entrenched themselves in front of the Violet back four while wingers tracked further and further back to break up Maroon passes.
It seemed like the moment had finally come in the 79th minute when Jasminski got on the end of a free kick and sent a powerful header past the keeper, but the would-be equalizer ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar and back down in front of goal. McKinney got a foot to the bouncing ball in the ensuing scramble, but it sliced off to the right. Seconds later, NYU escaped damage when another ball got loose in in the box.
The frantic final minutes continued as a series of corner kicks and crosses brought the Maroons to the brink of scoring again and again. In the 87th minute, Watkins got free for a header from five yards out, but Marhan somehow got down in front of the ball to make the stop. Watkins emerged from a scrum to prod another effort on goal moments later, where another improbable save denied her. When Marhan lunged to deflect a cross, Watkins was there and fired for a third time, only to watch the Violet goalie fling up a desperate arm that sent the ball over the bar.
Donovan (4-2 record) absorbed the loss with one save and one goal allowed in the first half. Sophomore Miranda Malone took over in the second half and made one save.
- Sunday, Oct. 28 @ 1:30 PM – Brandeis University at UChicago