Loras falls in top-10 tilt
Last Friday, the men’s soccer team faced the University of Chicago in the eighth game of their season. It was a long-awaited match, considering the current rankings of the two teams.
Loras went into the match ranked No. 9 in NCAA Division III, whereas the University of Chicago is ranked 6th, so the match-up was a dual at the top, in a way. The anticipation of a hard-fought match combined with favorable weather conditions resulted in high attendance for Friday’s game.
Before diving into the game, it would be interesting to review the match history between these two teams. There have been six confrontations: three wins and three losses. Two teams of a similar caliber, Loras and UChicago’s rivalry foreshadowed a neck-in-neck match. Looking closer at the statistics, though, it can be seen that despite a series of three wins between 2007 and 2015, Chicago has handled Loras relatively easily in the past two meetings between the two teams, with a pair of 3-0 victories.
Loras dominated the pitch, tactically speaking, for most of the game. UChicago is known to play “position soccer.” It keeps the ball and takes its time while orchestrating their plays. constructs their plays and take their time. During the game, Loras pressed high.
Each time a Chicago player had the ball, a Duhawk was marking him. Once the ball was gained, Loras surged towards UChicago’s goal as quickly as possible. A second-year student, Jose Melo reported that Loras tried to, “play long balls, press on the top to create errors on the opponent side and win the ball on top and score.”
On the defensive side, everyone was assigned a “player to be marked and had to follow him.” This tactic proved successful, as Loras clearly led in terms of shots. The Duhawks were organized, and each player was where he needed to be in order to press and intercept the ball.
While the Chicago goalkeeper was shot on several times, UChicago was limited to just two attempts on goal. The first half ended with a blank score, but Chicago was struggling as a consequence of Loras’ intensive and intelligent pressing.
In the second half, Chicago was able to turn the game to their advantage fairly quickly, forcing their way through Duhawk defense with quick passes. The second half was noticeably more equalized and interesting. Chicago players scored two goals in a row and, unlike Loras, were efficient in front of the goal box. But the Duhawks didn’t give up, and their fight was rewarded in the 81 minute with a goal scored by senior Mark Broderick. Unfortunately, Loras lacked good scoring chances in the waning moments.
The next day, Loras unloaded any residual frustrations by thumping Iowa Wesleyan, 9-0.
After the showdown, Loras is ranked No. 13 in the nation, while Chicago is tied for No. 4 in the rankings.