No days off: WU sports prepare for busy fall break weekend
The Washington University sports teams have reached the midpoint of the fall semester very successfully. All but one fall team is ranked; women’s golf and women’s soccer stand No. 1 in Division III; the cross country squads and volleyball remain top-10; and men’s soccer just entered the top-25 in the nation. Things are getting serious around Danforth Campus—here’s what’s in store as we transition from the former portion of the calendar to the latter.
The No. 1 women’s soccer team is six games away from completing a perfect regular season. Along with Centre College, Wash. U. is one of two teams in Division III without a loss or tie, and they’ve done it in remarkable fashion––36 goals scored, two allowed, one overtime played. They’ve undeniably dominated the competition thus far, but the final stretch will be the toughest yet, and a strong look at what the Bears can expect in the NCAA Tournament. Specifically, they’ll face four ranked teams in the final five games (they’ve only faced one so far, in the opening match), including three in a row and two on the road. It begins this weekend at Case Western Reserve University, followed by that trio of away games: at No. 21 Carnegie Mellon Sunday, at No. 10 Wheaton College the following Saturday and home vs. No. 14 Brandeis University the next Friday. Then it’s Senior Day and No. 13 University of Chicago, and a ticket to the postseason. This sequence will tell us whether or not Wash. U. should be the favorite.
Fresh off a 3-0 weekend at the Wash. U. Invitational, the volleyball team will be traveling to Pittsburgh to compete in the UAA Round Robin. They’ll take on Carnegie Mellon, University of Rochester and New York University en route to a top-25 matchup with Emory University. The Red and Green are on a four-game winning streak and will be carrying that momentum into the weekend. Senior middle hitter Julianne Malek is the reigning American Volleyball Coaches Association Player of the Week and she’ll be looking to extend her stellar offensive performance into conference play.
The newly-ranked No. 23 men’s soccer team has had an up-and-down previous three games: an incredible upset of then-No. 6 Emory, a fall back to earth against Oglethorpe University and a hard-fought tie against new-No. 6 Rochester. Still, September’s five-game winning streak vaulted the Bears into the top-25, but they’ll have to keep it up to earn a spot in the tournament. Over break, they’ll take on No. 19 Case Western and No. 13 Carnegie Mellon, which should test whether their success is sustainable. It all leads up to a season finale date with No. 1 Chicago and, if all goes well, more games to come.
The football team is the only of Wash. U.’s fall teams that isn’t currently ranked, but that status may not be far away: In the most recent D3football.com poll, Wash. U. received two votes. The next two weeks could accelerate a move into the top-25, if the Bears deliver on their 4-1 record. They take on No. 12 Wheaton and No. 18 Illinois Wesleyan University in back-to-back weeks at Francis Field, setting themselves up well for the momentum necessary to crack the rankings and earn a playoff spot. It’s fair to say that things are going well for the Red and Green in their debut season in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, not to mention coming off a losing season. Things have turned around fast on Francis Field.