Women’s soccer falls in UAA finale
Washington University’s women’s soccer team suffered a 1-0 defeat against the University of Chicago Saturday, dropping the team to 14-3-1 overall and 6-1 in the UAA. The No. 8 Bears, however, will still play in the postseason next weekend, having clinched their third consecutive UAA title last weekend and the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
“We were in a very difficult situation,” senior captain Shirey Lane said. “We knew that we had already won the conference. We didn’t give our best that we can give and didn’t play to win.”
“We put together a good game. They capitalized on an opportunity. We had some early opportunities that we couldn’t capitalize on. Maybe the refs had one or two slightly off calls,” Head Coach Jim Conlon said.
The team celebrated Senior Day Saturday, honoring its nine seniors before the game. Former Head Coach Wendy Dillinger made a return to St. Louis for the recognition ceremony. All nine seniors also started Saturday’s game.
Wash. U. came out on fire Saturday, dominating the first half. Senior captain Caitlin Malone narrowly missed a goal in the 16th minute, stumbling as she finished her shot. Junior Elyse Hanly took a shot on an open net in the 23rd minute, but a Chicago defender blocked the shot. Classmate Lib-by Held nearly buried a free kick later in the 23rd minute, but Maroon keeper Polly Kline made a diving save to keep the game tied at 0-0. Questionable offsides calls also broke up a few more opportunities. Overall, the Bears outshot the Maroons 8-3, including another impressive free kick on Held’s part in the half, but the half ended in a 0-0 tie.
“We were lucky to get out of the first half,” Chicago Head Coach Amy Reifert said. “They outplayed us and were clearly the better team.”
It was Chicago that stole the show in the second half. Realizing that they had to win this game to have a shot at the postseason, the Maroons upped the tempo and controlled the half. Senior Sigrid Nachtergaele scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute as a ball deflected off of several players and bounced over senior keeper Amanda Boe’s head.
“I’m a little bit in disbelief,” Nachtergaele said. “Wash. U. came out strong. I’m so proud of our team. It was a big turn-around.”
“It was pretty unfortunate that we lost. We didn’t play to our full potential. It was a close game and we got unlucky,” Held said.
Even with the loss, Wash. U. is ready for the postseason. “Our players are very focused, very determined,” Conlon said. “We have played six Top 25 opponents this season and have gone 6-0-1 against them. We’re ready to make a deep run in the tournament.”
The Red and Green will learn of their postseason fate at 11 a.m. this morning when the draw is announced.
“The next time this happens, the season is over,” Lane said. “The way [Saturday] ended will help us refocus and bring us back to the gravity of the situation.”