New beginnings

Women’s soccer loses to John Carroll, starts UAA season with loss to Brandeis


Nick Natko

Kicking the ball past a defender earlier in the season, fourth-year midfielder Elle Zadina braces for impact. The Spartans lost their first conference match, but rebounded with a win on Oct. 3.

A fresh start is something people always look forward to. It gives us a sense of forgetting what happened in the past and starting off on a new foot. However, not all fresh starts go the way people would like them to. Such was the case with the Case Western Reserve University women’s soccer team, who started off their University Athletic Association (UAA) season with a home loss to No. 24 Brandeis University on Sunday, Oct. 1.

The Brandeis women came out attacking the CWRU defense, taking 20 shots with 10 of them on goal. Spartans second-year goalie Lauren Unterborn, along with the defense, stopped most of the shots, with Unterborn recording multiple back-to-back saves on her way to a total of seven for the game. Most of the first half remained quiet as the defense held up to the Judges’ attack.

However, it began to falter as the Brandeis women struck first in the 31st minute on a back heel goal by third-year midfielder Becca Buchman off of an assist by third-year forward Sasha Sunday. This goal was the catalyst for the second half, as the Judges scored two back-to-back goals in the 67th and 68th minutes with a goalie fake by fourth-year forward Samantha Schwartz, which was assisted by Sunday, and a 30 yard blast from third-year defensive back Emily Thiem. The Spartans’ attack was unable to get going as the team fell 3-0.    

Regardless of the team’s loss, fourth-year defensive back and team co-captain Neha Cheemalavagu said that it was a good learning experience.

“The first UAA [match] is always important, especially when we have so many young players,” said Cheemalavagu. “It was good for everyone to see the level of play in our conference which is significantly higher than that of our regional games. I think we realized that we still need to better learn how to play our new formation and also that a game can be won or lost within a minute, so focus for the entire game is crucial.

Previously that week, the Spartans had travelled to University Heights to face John Carroll University on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The match was more an offensive shootout, as both teams went back and forth scoring goals.

The Blue Streaks started it off with an early 10th minute goal by third-year forward Bailey Fischer off of an assist from first-year forward Rachel Braunegg. The Spartans answered back with an 18th minute goal by first-year midfielder Abby DeCicco off of assists from second-year forward Kimberly Chen and third-year midfielder Emily Dickens. John Carroll seemed to run away with the game with goals by fourth-year midfielder Justina Fortson in the 33rd minute and first-year midfielder Adelyn Burns in the 49th.

However, the Spartans came roaring back to make things interesting with a goal in the 84th minute by first-year defensive back Emily Hauser off of assists from DeCicco and second-year midfielder Ana Petropoulos to bring the score to 3-2. Sadly, John Carroll sealed the victory on an 89th minute goal by Fischer, as the Spartans fell 4-2.  

The women finished the week with two losses, dropping their record to 4-6-0 overall and 0-1-0 in UAA play.

Following a win against the College of Wooster at home on Tuesday, Oct. 3 that raised their record to 5-6-0, the team heads to Gaelic Park to continue UAA play against New York University on Saturday, Oct. 7.  

“Since the last game was on Sunday and we have many injured players, rest is incredibly important all around,” said Cheemalavagu. “After people have recovered, we are focusing on finding the best way to utilize our new and unique formation. That includes a lot of film and sessions inside, along with tactical work outside.”