Parker Burman – Staff Writer
The fifth ranking Gustavus men’s soccer team wrapped up their season against conference rival Macalester. After a hard fought match the Gusties were able to secure a 1-0 victory over the Scots. With the victory, the team finished an undefeated season for the Gusties and a regular season MIAC Championship.
“Ending the regular season with a MIAC Championship is obviously a really great thing, and I think that it is something everyone on our team is extremely proud of. Going into the season we knew that we had the potential to accomplish great things this year, but diligence was key to making these goals a reality. I think we have ended up in the place that we are in because we take things one day at a time, not looking further than the next game or next practice,” Junior Owen Johnson said.
Senior Goaltender Wesley Sanders, who added yet another shutout to his season resume, was a big part of helping the Gusties blank Macalester. The only goal of the match came when Johnson found Junior Alex Krumenaur in the 66th minute of the match. Johnson’s assist was his seventh of the campaign, which led the team this season.
“It felt great scoring that goal. I could tell it meant a lot to everyone so it was a very good feeling knowing I could end our regular season putting that one away with us on top of the MIAC,” Krumenaur said.
“Leading the team in stats is very cool, but it’s something that I could not have done without my teammates. I’m extremely glad I could do my part to contribute to the success of the whole group, but my individual statistics are much more representative of the entire teams’ combined efforts rather than my own performance,” Johnson said.
Numerous other Gusties lead either the team or the MIAC in different statistical categories. Sanders led the MIAC in nearly every single goalie statistic including shutouts, goals against average, and save percentage. In addition to assists, Johnson also led the team in goals, game winning goals and points, finishing tied for seventh in the conference.
The Gusties received important contributions from both seasoned veterans and fresh faces new to college soccer. One of these new faces was First-year Rivaldo Pena, who finished second on the team in assists.
“I appreciate the coaching staff for trusting me and putting me in a position to be able to make an immediate impact to the team as a first-year. It really feels amazing to be able to contribute to the team right away. Obviously there is no assist without the finish so I have my teammates to credit as well,” Pena said.
Recapping the season, the Gusties managed ways to find wins at every opportunity leading to an undefeated season both overall and in conference play. Their 13-0-4 and 9-0-1 records secured their sixth straight MIAC playoff appearance and their 15th in the last 18 years. The victory also allows the Gusties to rest, recover and game plan for their semi-finals match up against the remaining low seed.
“The first round bye is nice as it gives us an extra day of rest before our playoff run but we still have to stay focused and use it to prepare for the game on Wednesday,” said Sanders.
With the regular season portion of their campaign in the books the Gustavus men will look to win their first MIAC Playoff Title since the 2019 season. If this happens, they look forward to the challenge of competing to bring a national championship back to Gustavus.
“This is something we thought was possible to accomplish coming into the season and It feels good to get the regular season championship but we are still looking to get the MIAC playoff title as well and that is where our focus is now,” said Sanders.
“Since the beginning of preseason in August we have known that this team has the potential to accomplish great things this season. Now, as the regular season has wrapped up, I think everyone’s beliefs are solidified and our whole team is dead set on making a deep run in the MIAC tournament and hopefully the NCAA tournament as well. We want to put Gustavus on the map as a national powerhouse in Division III soccer and show everyone that anything is possible when you have fun,” said Johnson