No rest for the Bears: Wash. U. sports in action over fall break
While most Washington University students are taking a quick recess home, catching up on Netflix or sleeping off midterms, the Red and Green sports teams will continue to push towards the playoffs during fall break. Featuring 13 events across six sports in six days, the long weekend will be packed with action, with plenty to check out if you’re staying on campus. Here’s a quick look at some highlights of the long weekend ahead.
Saturday at Francis Field, Wash. U. battles Buena Vista University on the gridiron for the first time ever. For the Bears, there’s some seriously bad history on the line. At 1-5, a fifth straight loss would mean the Red and Green could finish no better than 3-6. That would be the team’s worst record since it went 2-8 in 1988—the season before head coach Larry Kindbom arrived nearly 30 years ago. At the same time, it speaks to just how remarkable Kindbom’s tenure has been. He’s easily the program’s longest-tenured coach, winning 175 games; no other coach has more than 40 victories. After inheriting a program that had suffered through 10 consecutive losing seasons prior to his arrival, Kindbom has now weathered just five in 29 years. Given his history, chances are the Bears will bounce back next year, and that process begins not next summer, but with the final three games this fall. Look for the offense, which hasn’t scored more than 28 points yet, to break out against the Beaver defense, which hasn’t allowed fewer than 27.
Wash. U.’s season has derailed pretty quickly. Following a 6-0-1 start, the Bears have dropped their last three contests to fall from No. 16 in Division III to unranked. It’s the same story as it was a year ago, when the Red and Green jumped out to 7-0-1 then jumped into a 2-4 stretch (beginning with a loss to Emory University). Last season, Wash. U. stumbled into the postseason before falling out in the first round. This time, they’ll have to turn things around if they want to regain momentum before November. Fall break is a perfect chance to do so, with a pair of home games, including senior day Sunday against Carnegie Mellon University. It will be important to get rolling again during the home stand before Wash. U. travels to more powerful offenses in No. 15 Brandeis University and No. 14 University of Chicago to round out the regular season. One key will be limiting the scoring—Wash. U. has allowed six goals in the last three games after permitting just two in the first seven.
The No. 2 Bears just keep chugging. After an uncharacteristic tie in late September that saw them drop from the No. 1 spot, the Red and Green have followed up with four straight wins, dominating opponents to the tune of 15-0. Unsurprisingly, the toughest games they’ve played so far have been versus ranked squads: 3-1 vs. No. 10 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, 1-0 at No. 8 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and 1-0 at No. 21 Emory. That experience will come into play these next few weeks. Following a Friday night under the lights against Case Western Reserve University, the Bears celebrate senior day Sunday with a tough matchup with No. 10 Carnegie Mellon University. They’ll follow that up with No. 22 Brandeis on the road before their biggest match of the season: A showdown with rival No. 1 Chicago in the final tune-up before the playoffs. If they keep outshooting teams 27 to 5.1, chances are the results will stay the same.
It’s the same old story, right? Start slow, get hot, beat some ranked teams, go on a long playoff run. The Bears are back, going 8-1 after a 6-5 start and looking like the contenders of old. The wins against elite teams aren’t there yet—Wash. U. has beaten No. 15 Hope College and No. 25 Cornell College, but lost to No. 3 Wittenberg University and No. 10 Carnegie Mellon—but they’ll have two more shots during fall break. This weekend, the Red and Green travel to Chicago for UAA Round Robin number 2, starting with No. 4 Emory and ending with host No. 13 Chicago. The Bears are starting to round into form at just the right time, and they’ll have chances to prove they belong potentially higher than their now-No. 20 ranking. Beating Emory, who has caused them fits over the years, would be a good place to start.
Though the full team will not be in action until February, this weekend two members of the women’s tennis team will have an opportunity to compete for a national championship, as senior Grace Deering and freshman Ally Persky travel to Rome, Ga., to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Oracle Cup. The tournament is held every fall, and the field is composed of the winners of eight regional competitions. Deering and Persky ran through the field at the Central Regional last month, their first competition as a doubles pairing. The pair’s unbeaten record will be put on the line in their first matchup against Emily Chen and Maryann Zhao of Pomona-Pitzer, the second seed in the draw. The tournament, while not strictly important for the overall team season in the spring, is one of the more important factors in determining preseason national rankings, and a good showing from Deering and Persky could go a long way to starting the year on the front foot for the Bears.