Men’s soccer wins two, stays in UAA race

| Senior Sports Editor

With its NCAA tournament prospects ten minutes away from taking a significant hit, the Washington University men’s soccer team pulled through for one of its biggest wins of the season.

Senior Zac Query’s goal 1:26 into the second overtime gave Wash. U. a 3-2 win over Case Western Reserve University, as the Bears improved their conference record to 4-2 and kept themselves right in the thick of the University Athletic Association race.

The win came two days after a 1-0 win over fifteenth-ranked University of Rochester.

 

Sunday: Wash. U. 3, Case Western 2 (2OT) 

A wild contest between the Bears and the UAA’s lowest-ranked team—0-5 Case Western—was a back and forth contest that took 101 minutes before the Bears were able to end it.

The Red and Green found themselves trailing 14 minutes into the game. After an initial shot was blocked, Case’s Ross Twanmoh put the ball past junior goalie Jonathan Jebson to give Case the early lead. The Bears pushed the action for much of the rest of the half, though, and the dam finally broke in the final minutes of the half.

First, junior Jeremy Kirkwood took a long ball from Query and tapped it past Case goalie Ryan Koepka at the right side of the net to knot it up at 41:27. Then, on a free kick from junior Nik Patel in the waning seconds of the half, the ball went on net and Koepka’s initial save rebounded right to Query, who corralled it and put it in the net with five seconds left in the first half to give the Bears a 2-1 lead at the break.

That lead held for most of the second half, thanks to some shots gone wide from Case and some saves by Jebson, but the Spartans picked up the equalizer with just under eight minutes left in regulation. A great crossing pass from Case’s Eric Erb let Aaron Meyer put a one-time blast by Jebson from inside the box. A final-minute chance for the Bears trickled harmlessly through the box and the teams went to OT.

After a first OT session where the majority of the time went by with the ball in the Bears’ half, Wash. U. ended it quickly in the second extra session. Junior Michael Flowers got the ball to Query in front of the left post, he handled the ball, and tucked it just through the defenders and past Koepka into the lower-right corner.

The Bears finished with a 14-11 edge in shots and an 11-8 edge in shots on goal. Query’s goals were his first two of the season, and Kirkwood’s goal was his fourth. Jebson made six saves.

 

Friday: Wash. U. 1, #15 Rochester 0

Against the fifteenth-ranked Yellowjackets, Wash. U. was going up against some unfavorable trends—in their previous nine matches against Rochester, the Bears had gone 0-6-3 and were outscored 15-3.

But they certainly didn’t seem intimidated by that, as the Red and Green came out firing in the first half. The Bears had the first five shots of the game and didn’t let the Yellowjackets get a good chance until almost 30 minutes into the half. As the half drew closer to an end without much action, the Bears made the game-deciding play in the 40th minute as Kirkwood fed Flowers, who shot it past goalie Scott Garfing and into the lower right corner to give Wash. U. a 1-0 lead.

The Bears saw the Yellowjackets put up stronger opposition in the second half, as the 8-3 Wash. U. edge in shots from the first half was flipped on its head and became an 8-2 Rochester advantage in the second half. But some overall solid defense and some great plays by Jebson in the closing minutes kept the ball out of the net and helped the Bears secure a huge win.

Jebson picked up his ninth shutout of the year with three saves. Flowers’ goal was his third of the season, as was Kirkwood’s assist.

 

Final Weekend Outlook

While the Bears (10-4-1 overall, 4-2 in UAA) could make the postseason by receiving an at-large bid, the winner of the University Athletic Association receives an automatic bid and a clear path to the playoffs.

Going into the final weekend of the season, the Bears sit in second place in the conference and trail Carnegie Mellon University (12-2-1, 4-1-1) by one standings point. (Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a tie.) They lead Emory University (9-6-2, 3-2-1) and Brandeis University (15-2-1, 3-2-1) by two points.

In its Senior Day matchup on Sunday, Wash. U. will face the University of Chicago on Saturday afternoon at Francis Field at 2:30. Brandeis and New York University will face off at 12:30, while Emory and Carnegie Mellon will play at 4:30 and Rochester would play Case at 6:30.

First, a loss to Chicago would eliminate the Bears from conference title contention and would almost certainly mean no postseason bid. They must at least tie the Maroons to have a chance.

The easiest path for the Bears, of course, includes them beating Chicago and Emory either beating or tying CMU. If that happens, the Bears win the conference outright. If the Bears win, but CMU wins as well, the Bears would finish second, and would have a chance at an at-large bid.

If Wash. U. and Chicago tie, things get complicated, but based on our analysis of the conference’s tiebreaking procedures, the following two things would have to happen for the Bears to have a chance at an automatic bid:

  • Brandeis would have to lose or tie NYU.
  • Carnegie would have to lose to Emory, by only one goal—no more, no less.

From there, the Bears would have a chance, depending on what happens in the game between Rochester and Case. Regardless, by far the easiest road to an automatic bid would be to beat Chicago and hope Emory offers some help.