CHICAGO – A flurry of late scoring opportunities could not produce a much-needed goal for the Maroons as the University of Chicago women's soccer team fell to Brandeis University, whose 70th-minute strike proved the decisive moment of a 1-0 contest on a wet and windy Sunday afternoon at Stagg Field.
The defeat dropped the No. 10-ranked Maroons to 13-3-1 (4-2 UAA) as Brandeis rose to 12-3 (4-2 UAA). It was UChicago's second consecutive 1-0 defeat, and all three Maroon losses this year have come by one-goal margins.
In the lead-up to kickoff, the Maroons honored their five seniors on the field with their families: Sydney Mathis, Jenna McKinney, Madison Navarro, Dana Ulrich and Naomi Weiner. The graduating class boasts a four-year record of 66-16-2 with two consecutive trips to the NCAA Final Four.
In the opening stages of the match, high Maroon pressure kept Brandies under constant duress. Navarro took the first crack at goal for UChicago, but her well-struck effort from 30 yards drifted high and right.
The first glimpse of the threat Brandeis would pose came in the 13th minute. The Judges, attacking with the wind, dumped the ball over the top and chased it down. However, junior goalkeeper Katie Donovan made her first of several impressive saves, leaping to grab a firm shot at the near post. Two similar opportunities followed, with the second appearing especially dangerous until Donovan rushed out to snatch the ball from the feet of the attacker.
Brandeis now moved from counter-attacking to a stretch of incisive possession, turning the pressure back on the Maroons. Another breakthrough allowed a look at goal, but Donovan closed the angle and parried the shot from close range.
The Judges would have seen their forays yield results in the 25th minute if Donovan had not outdone her previous efforts with an unbelievable save, jumping as high as possible to strike the ball with her arm at full extension and send it into the crossbar. With the deflection falling back into play, Donovan spun around on the ground and caught the ball cleanly while facing her own goal.
Having endured these close calls, UChicago regained the initiative a minute later, as sophomore forward Katie Jasminski sliced into the box and pulled a pass back to McKinney, who fired inside the right post but saw the Brandeis keeper make a diving stop. After a corner kick, Jasminski sent another promising ball rolling through the box, where junior midfielder Rachel Dias came crashing in and poked it at goal. In the 39th minute, with UChicago still keeping up the attack, the ball rolled into open space in the middle of the area but first-year forward Nicole Willing put her shot over the bar.
The Maroons maintained the offensive right up until the break, with the exception of a Brandeis shot with one minute before the interval that skimmed less than a foot wide.
As the second half began, UChicago now had the wind in its favor, but worsening conditions made it more difficult to string passes together. Jasminski burst through on the right side in the 54th minute, but her shot curled beyond the far post. Seconds later, the Judges almost went ahead as sophomore keeper Miranda Malone had to come racing out of goal to deal with an oncoming player. The attacker redirected the ball into open space, but it rolled harmlessly through the unoccupied six-yard box.
The contest grew increasingly even as both teams pushed hard for a match-altering score. Brandeis found its moment in the 70th minute from the same pattern that had menaced the Maroons in the first half. A lofted long ball fell into an awkward space behind the UChicago back line, too far out for Malone to handle but so close she had no choice but to come flying forward. A Brandeis striker got to the ball first and took a wide touch clear of the Maroon's keeper's grasp, then launched an off-balance shot that slipped inside the post for the only goal of the day.
From the ensuing kickoff to the final whistle, the Maroons mounted a determined barrage of runs, shots and crosses in a desperate search for the equalizer. Navarro missed just outside the post, while saves denied Willing and first-year midfielder Adriana Shutler. UChicago continued to recycle the ball back into the box but could not turn bits of space into lethal chances.
Even in the final minute of play, the Maroons seemed on the verge of tying things up. McKinney won a contested header from a corner kick but sent it just high, then sophomore midfielder Maddie DeVoe got loose again in the box only to watch the Brandeis keeper smother what would be UChicago's final attempt.
In the end, the Judges placed 10 of their 15 shots on goal, while the Maroons shot 18 times with six on target. Reflecting the end-of-game attacking pressure, UChicago held an 8-2 edge in corner kicks taken.
Donovan made four saves in the opening 45 minutes of action. Malone (9-1-1 record) took the loss with five saves and one goal allowed in the second half.
- Saturday, Nov. 3 @ 1:30 PM – UChicago at Washington University – St. Louis