SALEM, VA – One of the best stories of the collegiate fall sports season in the Chicagoland area in 2022 has involved one of the teams at the University of Chicago.
The Maroons men’s soccer program has been at or near the top of the NCAA Division-III rankings the entire season, and they lived up to that billing in the tournament over the last few weeks.
Thanks to a thrilling win on Thursday, they’ll get a chance to earn a program first on Saturday morning.
Chicago will take on Williams in the Division-III national championship game in Salem, Virginia at 11 a.m. looking to reach the pinnacle of the sport for the first time. They got there by defeating Stevens Institute of Technology 1-0 in a double overtime match that was won on goal a Ryan Yetishefsky.
By capturing the win, the Maroons improved to 21-0-1 on the season as they advanced to the first national championship game in program history. Last season, they advanced to the Final Four, but lost to Amherst in the semifinal in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“We’re super excited,” said Yetishefsky. “Can’t wait to get after it.”
It’s been a strong run for Chicago through the tournament as they’ve won five-straight matches to reach their first title contest. Here’s their results over the last few weeks:
- 1st Round – Birmingham Southern – 2-1
- 2nd Round – Willamette – 4-1
- 3rd Round – St. Thomas (Texas) – 4-1
- Quarterfinals – Gustavus Adolphus – 1-0
- National Semifinal – Stevens Institute of Technology – 1-0
This was preceeded by a 16-0-1 regular season that included a University Athletic Association championship as the Maroons were ranked No. 1 for a number of weeks.
While the run has been historic for the school, it’s also been so for manager Julianne Sitch. She has become the first woman to lead a men’s soccer program to a national championship match at any level in the NCAA.
Sitch and the team have one benefit in this year’s Final Four than in 2021 – an extra day to prepare for the championship match. Last year, the teams played for the title the day after playing in the semifinals.
“Very happy that they’ve added that extra day of rest. I think it’s very key for athletes, it’s very important,” said Sitch. “Right now, recovery is our biggest thing – getting off our legs, making sure we’ve got the right nutrition, making sure that we have the right hydration, and make sure we get the proper sleep and everything.”
That’s because a chance at history is approaching Saturday.