“Wash”ed Up

Sabers’ senior night heroics power biggest upset in program’s history.

Taylor Fletcher, Staff Reporter

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Any casual observer of the Case Western Reserve University women’s soccer results in past two weeks would note they posted a 1-1-1 record. Not bad, but not great. However, to overlook this record would dismiss one of the greatest wins in the program’s history. On Friday, Oct. 17, the Spartans stunned the nation with a 2-1 double-overtime victory against the No. 2 Washington University-St. Louis. It was the Bears’ first loss of the season.

Following the senior day win, the squad followed up the performance with a gritty 0-0 tie vs. No. 11 University of Chicago. The following week, they experienced what life is like to have a target on your back when they suffered a tough setback to Denison. However, that the Spartans went 1-1-1 over the past two weeks is a testament to the hard work and dedication the team has put in throughout the season.

Prior to the match on Friday, the team honored its five seniors: Cameron Casson, Caitlyn McGillis, Jessie Sabers, Abbey Smith and Christine Straka were shown appreciation for the hard work, sacrifice and leadership they have given to the squad over the past four years. Friday night’s game was like no other in their college career and their contributions were key to the victory.

The match was a tight and physical affair throughout, with 33 fouls committed in the game. CWRU decided to sit and challenged the Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) to break down their defensive bunker. Smith was huge in the net, turning away the Bears again and again in the first half.

In the 54th minute, it was the Spartans who stunningly broke the deadlock. After receiving a clearance from the backline, McGillis was able to deftly control the ball at midfield. She easily turned and played a great ball through for Sabers. Sabers, who had a clear scoring opportunity and was in an one-on-one with the goalie, was taken out from behind by a trailing defender in the box. The referee awarded the penalty kick. After taking a moment to compose herself, she was able to coolly slot the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal.

The goal sent the crowd into frenzy. With renewed energy, the Spartans committed themselves to grinding out the game. Unfortunately, in the 86th minute, a WUSTL midfielder was able to wrangle free from her marker and shoot a rocket to upper left-hand corner of the goal. The most exciting game of the season was heading into overtime.
The first overtime period was a tight affair, with neither team having any legitimate chances at scoring. In the second overtime period, the Spartans came out with renewed passion at the possibility of securing a win. Sophomore forward Alexa Williams threaded a great pass through into to the left corner into the path of freshman midfielder Madeline Harris. Harris was able to cut back onto her right fight and whipped a hopeful ball into the box. Sabers was able to dart in front of the keeper and headed the ball into the net.

The goal moved Sabers to second in all-time goals in school history with 21 and increases her school record to 11th game winning goals on the year.

It was the program’s first win against the Bears in 20 games dating back since the 1990’s.

Despite being outshot on the day 14-7 and the Bears holding the corner kick advantage 5-1, CWRU came away with a huge win on the day.

The Spartans carried that momentum into the match on Sunday morning. In a tight affair, CWRU battled University of Chicago to a scoreless draw. In the 63rd minute, Smith came up huge in net, blocking a Maroons shot off the corner. Smith effort helped to preserve the shutout against the 11th ranked team in the nation.

The Maroons lead the match in shots 13-7 and corners 8-4.

For the team’s huge results, CWRU was ranked No. 21 in the nation for their two huge results against two top 15 teams. Also, Sabers garnered UAA Offensive Player of the Week honors for her stellar brace against the Bears.

The Spartans were back in action Saturday, Oct. 25 at Denison in their non-conference finale.

Despite the first half being scoreless, The Spartans were taking the game to Big Red with a 7-2 advantage on shots in the first half. However, after the break, Denison was able to pounce on the miscommunication on a clearance by the Spartans defense. Denison’s goal took away the spark in the attack and the Spartans were unable to respond to their goal.

Denison lead the game in shots 14-12 and corners 4-2. Williams led the team with three shot attempts. With the loss, the Spartans record drops to 8-4-3.

CWRU women’s soccer turns their attention to the final three games on the schedule. As the third ranked team in the Great Lakes region, The Spartans have put themselves in a great position to make the NCAA tournament. The Spartans must gain a result Friday Oct. 31 against the number No. 4 in the nation, the top ranked team in their region and conference rival Carnegie Mellon to solidify their place in the postseason. They will relish their opportunity to be the hunter again as they try to regain the magic of senior night.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.