The Gustavus men’s soccer team finished the season on Sunday, Nov. 17 losing 1-0 to Westminster in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The team completed the season with an overall record of 14-4-1.
After winning every regular season conference game, the team was regular season MIAC Champions. Falling 1-2 to Saint John’s University in the MIAC Playoff Semifinals, the team was not named MIAC Playoff champions, but still received a bid to compete in the NCAA Tournament.
Gustavus won the first game of the MIAC Tournament in overtime against St. Scholastica 2-1 on Saturday, Nov. 16 at home. The team suffered a 0-1 loss to St. Scholastica early on in the season on Sept. 4, one of only two losses during the regular season.
Losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Westminster was a disappointing loss for the team as it rounded out their season, however the Gusties still remain proud.
“Obviously the loss was tough, and it will be for a while. But when we look back on the season, I think we will recognize that we had a lot of success and hopefully the future teams can grow on this year’s success,” Senior Sean Sendelbach said.
The waiting game for the NCAA Tournament bid proved to be a stressful period of time for the players before hearing the news.
“It was nerve-wracking at times but there was nothing we could do. We put in the work up to that point; it was just a numbers game after that. You just try to keep your cool and if you get in, that’s awesome,” Junior Goalie Brett Ylonen said.
The team has used their depth to culminate their success. Head Coach Mike Middleton believes that the players have used their maturity and experience to dominate on the field.
“We’ve got not only some older players, but the freshmen are very good as well so we have an older, established, more experienced team,” Middleton said.
The team’s depth allowed them to maintain momentum during games throughout the course of the season.
“When our starters come off the field, we don’t lose any kind of intensity or quality of play when our next guys come in. We have a strong defensive line, our mid-field controls the ball really well, and our forwards know how to score,” Ylonen said.
The team also uses a unique playing style to stand out among MIAC teams. According to Middleton, the style allows the team to consistently out-play the competition.
“We’re very clever in possession and we’re very good in tight spaces. We like to hold the ball, so it’s kind of a different style,” Middleton said.
Besides winning the title as regular season conference champions, the team had a record-breaking season going ten straight games without a loss for the first time since 1972.
“To go 10-0, the first team since ‘72 at Gustavus, is just fantastic. We could see that the team was going to be very good, but to cap it with something record-breaking is nice,” Middleton said.
Middleton considers this season to be one that the players will remember long after they leave Gustavus.
“They’re going to look at the banner in 25 years when they come back to Gustavus and they’re going to go, ‘you know what, not only did we win it then, but we were undefeated.’ So, they’re arguably the best team that’s ever played at Gustavus in terms of the record season in the conference,” Middleton said.