Historic season comes to an end for women’s soccer

Five athletes and coaching staff members earn All-Region honors


Abby DeCicco/The Observer

Despite an end-of-season loss, the CWRU women’s soccer team closes out the best season in the team’s history with a record of 16-2-2.

Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor

The 10th-ranked Case Western Reserve University women’s soccer team’s glorious season came to a saddening close on Saturday, Nov. 20. After making it to the round of 16 in the 2021 NCAA Division III Championship, the Spartans ultimately fell 2-1 to the 16th-ranked University of Chicago at DiSanto Field.

CWRU opened the first half with forceful pressure against the Chicago defense, controlling play and possession for most of the period. After exchanging two shot attempts each, the Spartans scored a goal in the 34th minute. Fourth-year defender Kat Rebele took a free kick, sending the ball into the six-yard box, where fourth-year midfielder Anika Washburn, who had snuck behind her defender, tapped the ball into the net. Rebele notched her third assist for the year on this play.

With this being her 15th goal of the season, Washburn broke her own record for most goals in a campaign, extended her record for points to 40 for the year, earned the top spot for career goals with 31 and increased her career point total record to 77.

The Spartans’ defense held Chicago scoreless until the halftime buzzer. Second-year goalkeeper Maggie Storti spearheaded that side of the field and had to only make one save thanks to the work of the other stalwart defenders.

The Maroons, however, owned the second half, picking apart the Spartan defense and taking advantage of CWRU’s mistakes. Chicago evened the score less than three minutes into the second period off of Nicole Kaspi’s goal. Storti tried to clear the ball but made an erroneous pass that was intercepted and led to Kaspi’s quick score.

The score remained 1-1 for most of the second half, but the Maroons offense was relentless. After being held to only two shot attempts in the first half, Chicago stormed back with 13 in the second, while holding CWRU to only four tries. Storti racked up seven more saves, but it was not enough to hold back the attack.

Just as everyone in the stadium thought that the game would be headed into extra time, the Maroons’ Ariana Shutler shocked the crowd with a successful 20-yard free kick in the 88th minute, putting Chicago up 2-1.

After holding off a corner kick and a couple of shots from the Spartans, the Maroons clinched their advance to the quarterfinals, improving to a 15-2-4 season record and handed the Spartans their second loss (16-2-2), closing the best season in CWRU women’s soccer history.

Chicago lost to Christopher Newport University in the quarterfinals on Nov. 21. The semifinals are slated for this Friday, Dec. 3, as Loras takes on Christopher Newport University while The College of New Jersey will play against Wesleyan University in Greensboro, North Carolina. The winners of the two matches will play for the championship on Dec. 4.

The women’s soccer coaching staff was named the 2021 United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III VII Regional Coaching Staff of the Year. This honor was received for the first time in program history. The staff is led by head coach Jen Simonetti with assistant coaches Josh Kay and Kaleigh Piscioneri and student coaches Natalie Sedor, Jenna Ruccolo and Taylor Bova.

Five Spartans were named to the All-Region Team. Fourth-year defender Greta Lazzara and Washburn were selected to the First Team, Maggie Storti was named to the Second Team, and Kat Rebele and fourth-year forward Christina Hickson were named to the Third Team. The honor was Washburn’s second and the first for the others.