Luke Siegle – Staff Writer
The Gustavus Men’s Soccer team was on a roll entering the first week of MIAC play, riding high on a three game win streak including a big victory over nationally ranked Luther which moved the team to number one in the region. Opening conference play Wednesday against the newly added St. Scholastica Saints, the Gusties were ready to go and dispatched the Saints 6-1 with a combination of intensity and talent. They then faced the Carleton Knights at home on Saturday and suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to their conference foes.
“We were all fired up for the first MIAC game. It was a long bus ride up to Duluth, so we were all ready to win and enjoy the bus ride home. We came out strong and a lot of our freshmen and sophomores played strong,” Senior Cole Schwartz said, who scored his third goal of the year against St. Scholastica.
First-year forward Ethan Miller started the scoring against the Saints by netting his first goal of the season in the 12th minute to give the Gusties a 1-0 advantage. Senior midfielder Trace Dobson then doubled the lead in the 23rd minute. However, St. Scholastica capitalized on a Gustie mistake a minute later to cut the lead to 2-1. That was as close as the Saints got. Forwards Matthew Gibbons, Nick Katzman, and Schwartz scored a goal a piece while Miller netted his second goal of the contest to put the game well out of reach.
“Ethan Miller had a phenomenal game and showed that he belongs in the program,” Schwartz said following the game. And belong he does; Miller impressed everyone with two goals and an assist for the Gusties in his first ever MIAC conference game.
Going into the weekend the Gusties were firing on all cylinders as they faced off against Carleton. It was a hard fought first half as the teams traded goals. Gustavus got on the board first with a goal by Schwartz. “A really good ball by Nick Leach and then Ethan Miller got on the end of it and I got the rebound,” Schwartz said. The Knight’s knotted it up at 1-1 late in the first half when a deflection found the back of the Gustavus net. Early in the second half the Knight’s struck once more when the Gusties couldn’t clear the ball out of their own end.
The Gusties did all they could to tie the score, even adding 6’5’’ sophomore defender Jared Hecht to the attack to try and cause some mayhem. “I was thrown up there in the last ten minutes to see if we could play a little bit more direct and see if we could get a goal, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” Hecht said.
It was a tough one to swallow for the Gusties, given that Carleton is expected to be a challenger for the MIAC regular season title, which Gustavus won in 2018 and 2019. “I think it was another one of those games where we expected to win, we kind of expected the other team to roll over and just let us win because we were home and are the favorites to win the MIAC. There were a lot of key moments where we just shut off and didn’t make the right decisions and made some silly mistakes,” Schwartz said.
Even after the loss, the expectations remain high for this group. Both Hecht and Schwartz believe the team has a ton of potential if they can work out the kinks. “We have probably the most talented program that I’ve been a part of…the expectation is to go far in the NCAA tournament, we want to win the MIAC, we want to be the best team in the north and maybe even the country at some point,” Schwartz said.
The Gusties will look to build on those expectations, and their 4-3 record, this week as they host Bethany Lutheran on Tuesday and travel to St. Johns on Friday.