This past Saturday the Gustavus men’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA tournament held in Northfield, Minnesota to play against University of Wisconsin. Even though the team returned without the victory in this tournament, the men’s soccer team has only lost two games all year. They are currently ranked in the top 25 of the NCAA National teams. Head Coach Mike Middleton says he is extremely proud of their team and overall they have had a great season together. Winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) championship and being labeled the champions of the MIAC play-offs as well was just not enough for the men’s soccer team. They proceeded to the NCAA tournament with high spirits.
“We would have liked to have gone further in the NCAA tournament, and losing on penalties is tough especially with outplaying them for a lot of the game,” Middleton said.
Head Coach Middleton says the senior players have set a record, losing only four games out of thirty-nine total with this season and last season’s games all together, and that is something they should be proud of.
“They are a terrific group, and the team as a whole have really excelled,” Middleton said.
Goalkeeper, Brett Ylonen, has recently been recognized as MIAC men’s soccer athlete of the Week. Ylonen says he believes the team has played very well this season and are great people to be around. Ylonen explained how last year, the team was third in conference and one of his goals was to win it this year, which they did. Ylonen is very poud of having won the MIAC championships this year.
“I just push myself to do the best I can, as often as I can, in every game,” Ylonen said.
With the NCAA tournament, Ylonen believed they were all physically ready and before attending they planned for what they were expecting from the opposing team in the tournament.
“They had a good left mid, and they played well. Not just any team is placed in the NCAA tournament, so we knew the level of competition we were up against,” Ylonen said.
The goal is to keep going and pushing; it was the team’s first time being in the NCAA tournament this year, and Ylonen still carries high spirits because that in itself is an accomplishment.
“Every game is just another game for us, we just have to go out and win,” Ylonen said.
Midfielder, Sean Sendelbach, says this season for him has been very successful as well. He has enjoyed winning the regular season conference title and the MIAC play-offs. Sendelbach says he had a good time proceeding to the tournament this past weekend, and he hopes to make yet another appearance in the NCAA tournament in the future, maybe next year. He says their goal of winning the conference will remain the same until they reach it. Sendelbach says with the season’s end, he is really going to miss the senior leaders as well as his teammates.
“My personal goal was to be the best leader I could be and help the team win in any way possible,” Sendelbach said.
Head Coach Mike Middleton wrapped up the season by explaining how things haven’t sunk in for the team yet. Middleton says everything will sink in when the team sees their team’s name on the banner here at Gustavus. It’s a great thing to be able to look back on years from now, and Middleton’s team ends the season with pride.
“I have a great bunch of lads, a group to be really proud of, and this year they proved themselves to be the very best,” Middleton said.