The Gustavus Men’s Soccer team culminated their brilliant season with a 1-0 overtime win over Macalaster on Oct. 27 for the Gusties’ first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) regular season title since 2013.
Senior Arthur Parens was proud of the team’s accomplishments so far and the goals they have set for themselves.
“One of our biggest goals for the season was creating our own legacy, which is tough when you look at all of the titles past Gustavus teams have won. So for us, to go out and win a championship for ourselves meant a ton, especially with how much talent is in the MIAC this season,” Parens said.
Winning the coveted MIAC regular season title is always impressive, especially as a first-year Head Coach.
“Along with focusing on staying humble and keeping a level head throughout the season, the trust and belief our new Head Coach, Tudor Flintham, and Assistant Coach Charlie Adams, invested in us was crucial to our progress throughout the season. They brought an exciting and fast paced mentality to the team. We all agree that it was exactly what we needed, and the season we’re having holds testament to that,” Parens said.
Despite their regular season success, the top-seeded Gusties were knocked out of the MIAC playoffs on Wednesday, Oct. 31 with a 1-0 upset loss against Augsburg.
“Team morale was definitely low after the game. Losing is never easy, and losing on our own field in front of our fans that supported us all season, was tough,” Parens said.
Despite outshooting Augsburg 18-2, the Gusties failed to find the back of the net and Augsburg’s lone goal off a rebounded free kick in the 37th minute was the difference.
“At the end of the day it came down to one mistake which unfortunately resulted in a goal against us. We had some unlucky bounces that did not go our way, however that’s how the game of soccer goes, the better team doesn’t always win. The biggest takeaway was that we learn from this loss, take a minute, regroup, and start preparing for the [National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)] Tournament,” Parens said.
The loss took the Gusties’ destiny out of their hands, as it was now up to a committee if they would receive an at-large bid.
However, on Monday, the Gusties received the news that they had received an at-large bid to the national tournament, along with fellow MIAC teams Augsburg, St. Thomas, and the MIAC postseason title holder, Carleton.
“Statistically we shouldn’t of had much to worry about. We checked the boxes for all the factors that went into being elected for an at-large bid. Winning the MIAC Championships, the high-level of competition in the MIAC, our regional ranking, and the strength of our schedule was definitely enough to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament,” Parens said. “However, you just never know how things will fall, so when we finally saw our names up on the bracket, it was a sigh of relief and a reality check to get back to playing and preparing for the tournament.”
With this at-large bid, the program now leads the MIAC in all three distinguished categories: MIAC regular season champions, MIAC playoff champions, and NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Gusties hold fifteen season championships, six playoff championships, and eleven NCAA Tournament appearances.
Now, with the fate back in their hands, the Gusties look to realize their potential in the single-elimination tournament, which is traditionally not a platform forgiving of mistakes.
“We need to realize what an opportunity we have, and that now is our chance to create something great. Realizing our potential, the ability, and depth we have on the team is crucial and will take 100 percent effort from everyone,” Parens said.
The 14-3-1 Gusties play on Saturday, Nov. 10 against Dominican College (14-5-1) in Decorah, IA at 5 p.m.
“If we do the small things right, are clinical in what we do best, and keep playing our game, it will be hard to stop us. We have to remember that the team we built and the accomplishments we’ve achieved are not over until the final whistle. If we play the game we know best, that will be the key to our success,” Parens said.