Nyden Hill – Guest Writer
Following their successful 2021 campaign last fall, the Gustavus men’s soccer team opened their season Saturday, September 1, against the Wartburg Knights. While that match ended in a draw, the team followed up with a pair of strong performances against Lake Forest and St. Norbert before tying again at Bethany Lutheran. With this strong start to their season in mind, the Gusties have some pretty lofty expectations for this year going forward.
To work towards accomplishing this feat, the Gustie men’s soccer team has been staying very busy on and off the field. Thanks to Junior Jared Hecht, we get to see what this intensive schedule looks like.
“I go to practice four times a week, do daily rehab, and as a team, we do lots of film sessions. We have about two games a week,” Hecht said.
With the future for this team looking bright, the team looks to the current starters, Wesley Sanders, Yahya Bashir, Otis Anderson, Carlos Robles, Sam Just, Alex Krumenauer, Rivaldo Pena, Owen Johnson, Nate Rouau, Ethan Glissendorf, and Mason Gilliand to lead the team going forward.
“We’d really like to win the conference and hopefully make a tournament run,” Senior goalie Wesley Sanders said.
While recovering from an injury, the team will also be looking to Hecht to build on the momentum from his All-American sophomore season. Another contributing returner from last season includes Sophomore Ethan Miller, who is the top returning scorer. Miller, who is also recovering from an injury, looks forward to getting healthy and back on the field to make an immediate impact. As an All-American last year, Hecht seems to have set some strong expectations for himself as well as his team.
“I hope that I can return from injury and lead our team to a MIAC championship and a deep NCAA tournament run,” Hecht said.
In the spirit of taking things one step at a time, the Gusties built on their momentum by starting the season this weekend with a 3-1 win over Loras on Sunday. With this being just the second home match of the season and the team being undefeated (2-0-2) on the season, tensions were high. While both teams seemed to be throwing everything they had at each other, throughout the opening stages of the match Loras was the first team to score, with a goal coming from Loras Senior Felipe Ramirez just 6:30 into the action.
Following the goal by Loras, the Gusties knew they had to mount a response. Just three minutes after the Loras goal was scored, First-year Rivaldo Pena attempted a shot of his own. This seemed to be the story for much of the first half as the Gusties were able to maintain overall control of the ball and prevent any oncoming attacks from the Duhawks.
While they trailed 1-0 for much of the match, the Gusties entered the second half of action with a new sense of urgency. The Gusties continued to keep control of the ball and gave themselves many opportunities to score, but weren’t able to connect as many shots on the goal were either blocked by the Loras goalkeeper or missed wide. That is, until the 82:43 mark when they finally broke through. The tying goal of the match came courtesy of First-year Brooks Luttinen but the Gusties weren’t done yet. Hecht added to the momentum soon after with a goal of his own a minute later. While this goal gave the Gusties the lead, they didn’t plan on stopping. To finish the action Sunday afternoon, Junior Alex Krumenauer added the final goal of the match with an assist from his teammate Hecht with just six minutes left on the day.
“That whole second half, you could feel a goal coming. The team was moving at a 1-2 touch basis, pinning, and there was really a will to win,” Miller said.
We wish the best of luck to the Gusties this season, as they open conference play on Tuesday, September 13, against St. Scholastica. Looking forward, the team travels to Carleton on Saturday and then hosts Nebraska Wesleyan next Tuesday.