ST. LOUIS – Despite a second-half scoring push, the visiting University of Chicago women's soccer team was held off the scoreboard, falling 2-0 to top-ranked Washington University – St. Louis in its final regular-season game on Saturday afternoon.
The No. 20-ranked Maroons finish the regular season at 13-4-1 overall (4-3 UAA) while the Bears moved to 17-0 (7-0 UAA).
UChicago is now a candidate for a Pool C at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. Postseason bids and matchups will be announced at 12:30 PM (CT) on Monday with the online selection show on NCAA.com.
A tight first 45 minutes gave way to a more open and balanced second half that saw the trailing Maroons on the verge of procuring a tying goal that never came.
The Bears entered the game with an undefeated record and the University Athletic Association title already in hand, but committed defending from the Maroons seemed it would complicate matters in the early going. After a UChicago foul near midfield in the 28th minute, however, a long free kick bounced high in the box and a WashU attacker turned it onto goal with a firm header.
Having fallen behind, the Maroons invested their energies in the offensive end. Senior midfielder Jenna McKinney got loose for the first clear shot in the 32nd minute and chanced another effort from distance a short while later. UChicago controlled more possession as the half wore on and looked poised to break through in the 44th minute, but the offside flag was up.
The Bears nearly doubled their advantage four minutes after the break as a cross found two open attackers in the area, but the eventual shot glanced wide. UChicago then surged forward and were unlucky not to even the contest in the 53rd minute after a scramble in the box led to two shots, one blocked by a desperate defender and the other punched off the line by the WashU keeper.
Mounting pressure led to even better chances in the late game. After an initial corner in the 78th minute led to a McKinney header that was deflected high and wide, the second attempt provided the Maroons with their best opportunity of the day. First-year forward Nikola Charouzova whipped the ball in to the front post where a glancing header from sophomore winger Katie Jasminski sent it flying well beyond the keeper's reach, only for a WashU defender to scrape it away from the far post at the last possible moment.
The prolonged Maroon offensive eventually freed up space for the Bears to hit back on the counter. In the 83rd minute, a blistering WashU strike from the top of the box skimmed the underside of the crossbar and put the hosts safely up 2-0.
Although the margin would not be overcome, UChicago battled to the end, as Jasminski almost put her side on the board in the 87th with another well-executed header.
The Maroons were outshot 16-9 in total and 6-4 in shots on goal. Evidence of the late drive to score appeared in UChicago's 8-4 edge in corner kicks.