The Gustavus Men’s Soccer Team opened its 2018 season last Friday on a positive note with a 4-1 win over Presentation College.
The game marked the first victory for Gustavus under the guidance of Head Coach Tudor Flintham, who assumed his role in April.
Flintham is an alum of St. John’s University, and most recently served as Head Coach of the men’s and women’s teams at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
The Gusties came into the 2018 campaign returning eight of eleven starters from 2017, including top goal scorer Arthur Parens.
Parens, now a senior, totalled 12 goals and 27 points last season, earning All-North Region Second Team and All-Conference accolades.
Joining Parens are Sophomore Matt Gibbons, who led the Gusties in assists last year as a First-year, and fellow Senior Matt Bateman, who started all 19 games in goal last season.
The Gusties also return a number of impactful upperclassmen leaders, and were picked to finish third in the MIAC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Flintham’s trademark possession-oriented style of play was on full display as the Gusties dominated the ball in the first half of play on Friday.
In the first 45 minutes of play, the Gusties outshot their opponent 11-2, but it wasn’t until the thirty-first minute that they got on the board. After a half hour of play, Sophomore Scotty Heinen recorded his first of three assists as he directed the ball to Parens who sent it into the back of the net.
Despite the lopsided number of shots in the first half, the score remained 1-0 going into the break.
The Gusties wasted no time in the second half, however, as Sophomore Trace Dobson scored his first goal of the season off of a rebound and a pass from Heinen.
Just five minutes later, Heinen led First-year Shiferaw Wilson on a breakaway, and Wilson slotted his first career goal as a Gustie.
“Our guys are very aware of the legacy and that’s positive pressure for us.”
The final Gustie goal came in the seventieth minute as Junior Will Richards connected with Parens to create a breakaway opportunity and Parens finished to give the Gusties a 4-0 lead.
Presentation scored a goal late in the game, so the final score was 4-1 as the Gusties outshot their opponents 22-5.
“Anytime you outshoot a team 22-5 you’ll take that, but the reality is that our guys know that we have a lot to work on,” Coach Flintham said.
“We had 61 percent of the possession, but our pass completion rate was only 67 percent because we couldn’t quite figure out our timing with the final run and pass. The lads need to figure that piece out,” Flintham added.
For the first game of the year, though, Flintham and the Gusties were pleased with their performance.
“Our wingbacks looked dangerous and played with real attacking intent, and then needless to say Arthur and Scotty where at the heart of almost everything dangerous,” Flintham said.
He also commended the strong play of the underclassmen, 13 of whom saw time on the field, and the stability provided by Senior midfielder Dan Barnes.
Following their decisive 4-1 win over Presentation, the Gusties notched another win on Wednesday as they hosted Martin Luther.
The Gustavus attack continued to apply pressure and Parens added two more goals to his impressive early season total in a 4-0 win.
Parens scored the first goal of the game and Heinen added one for himself with 35 minutes left in the first half.
Parens scored his second 13 minutes before halftime, and the Gusties rode their 3-0 lead into the break.
The lone goal of the second half came when Junior Luke Laurich played a beautiful corner kick to Dobson, who found the back of the net with a header.
After their 4-0 win, the Gusties move to 2-0 and look ahead to two more non-conference matches before opening conference play against Carleton College on September 12.
Flintham and the Gusties are excited to continue the strong tradition of excellence that characterizes Gustavus Men’s Soccer.
“Our guys are very aware of the legacy and that’s positive pressure for us. Our expectation is always to be in and around that championship game whilst still being mindful of the process to get there,” Flintham noted.
Next up for the Gusties are two consecutive weekend games in Iowa. They’ll take on Luther College in Decorah, IA on Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Wartburg College in Waverly, IA Sept. 9, at 6 p.m.