The Case Western Reserve University women's soccer team hung tight with one of the top teams in the country throughout the night on Friday, but a late goal in the final minute by the nationally sixth-ranked University of Chicago propelled the Maroons past the Spartans 1-0 on Senior Night at DiSanto Field.
The loss dropped Case Western Reserve to 6-6-4 overall, including a 0-3-2 mark in University Athletic Association games, while Chicago improved to 15-1-0 overall with a 4-1-0 conference ledger.
The two teams played to a scoreless first half on Friday, with Chicago holding an edge in total shots, 7-3. Junior goalkeeper Sarah Newcomb made three first half saves to help keep the Maroons off the board, while junior midfielder Neha Cheemalavagu had the team's only shot on goal during the half, launching a ball on frame in the 28th minute that was saved by Chicago keeper Katie Donovan.
In the second half, the Spartans best chance of the game came in the 71st minute, when senior Marley Praprost took a free kick and sent a shot just high of the crossbar.
The contest remained knotted in a scoreless draw until the final minute of the game, when Hanna Watkins crossed a ball into the six-yard box, finding Jenna McKinley who chipped it into the net for her 13th goal of the season with 17 seconds remaining, with what would prove to be the game-deciding score.
Prior to the start of the game, the team recognized its nine graduating senior players – midfielder Anne Backlund, defender Christine Breindel, defender Emma Hawley, forward Mahya Krouse, forward Amy Lindberg, defender Madeline Pollifrone, forward Marley Praprost, forward Pauline Van Dijck and forward Jennifer Zajic – who were each playing in the penultimate home game of their collegiate careers. Together, the group has won 29 games over the last four seasons, recording a winning percentage of .508. The Spartans have appeared in the NSCAA National Top-25 in two of the last four years, while consistently ranking among the top teams in the Great Lakes Region, and earning the NSCAA Team Academic Award in each of their four seasons.
The Spartans will wrap-up their home schedule on Sunday, October 30th at 11:00 a.m., hosting 11th-ranked Washington University (Mo.) at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio.