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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Soccer teams primed for decisive Olaf matches: Men struggle with Wisconson foes, await Oles

<s been the case more often than not this season, the Carleton men’s soccer team spent the entire weekend on the road, wrenched away from both a mesmerizing Ebony performance and a predictably-sweaty Sayles dance by an unfortunately-timed schedule.

This time, the Knights traveled to exotic Wisconsin, beating Ripon College on Saturday before falling to No. 12 UW-Oshkosh the following day. The team received a rude welcome back to Bell Field on Tuesday, falling 1-0 to UW-Superior amidst awful weather, and completing the stretch of three Wisconsin opponents in the space of four days.

Against Ripon on Saturday, the offense was up to its usual standards, putting 15 shots on goal, while the Knight defense held the hosts to a mere three. James Neher ’14 was a big presence in goal, as Pete Semmer ’11 took a rare game off to prepare for the final regular-season stretch.

Despite some great chances, however, the Knights still could not find the back of the net after 90 minutes. The first overtime saw much the same pattern – Carleton possession, but no scoring. Finally, after 107 minutes, Miles Silbert ’13 and Tim Wills ’12 took over. Wills was able to exploit the speed of Silbert, setting him up for a breakaway. Silbert blazed past the Ripon defense and beat the goalie for a dramatic double-overtime win.

The next day, the Knights challenged UW-Oshkosh. Ranked 12th in the nation, the Titans had yet to lose a game, and Sunday’s match proved why. Oshkosh was able to stifle Carleton’s trademark possession and constant ball movement, and scored quick goals in the first and second halves. The two-goal difference proved too much for the Knights to overcome, and so they returned to Minnesota with a 1-1 record on the weekend.

Tuesday found the Knights fighting through gale-force winds and brutally cold weather while seeking to defend their home field against out-of-state UW-Superior. The Knights controlled the tempo of the game from the opening whistle, moving up and down the pitch at will. Courtney Morris ’11 and the defense were able to incessantly change the point of attack through deft sideline-to-sideline passes and keep the UW-Superior attack out of position.

Will Corcoran ’14 put in a stellar performance, providing much of the impetus for a Carleton offense that generated an incredible 21 shots. Soon after a blistering strike from Silbert hit the crossbar, Corcoran connected on an unbelievable bicycle-kick that the Superior goalie somehow managed to track down. Despite all the offensive fireworks, however, the Knights could not find the back of the net, and fell to the Yellowjackets 1-0 after Superior notched a quick counterattack goal that was one of its only scoring chances.

Entering the final MIAC games on Friday and Saturday, the standings are as tight as always. Carleton, Augsburg, and Concordia are all tied in second place with 19 points. Macalester, leading the MIAC with 21 points, is in charge of its own destiny. A win for the Scots will give them the MIAC title, but a tie or a loss opens the door for the Knights.

Either way, even a MIAC playoff berth is uncertain unless the Knights win on Saturday. Cross-town rivals St. Olaf visit Bell Field in the last regular-season home game of the 2010 season.

The five Carleton seniors, captains Wes Elfman, Morris, and Semmer, stud Sam McKay and the elusive Troy Samuels, have epitomized what it means to be both gentlemen and scholars, and will surely be looking to close their regular-season college careers with a win over the Oles. If the Knights mean anything to you, you need to be at Bell Field cheering on the most chivalrous team in the MIAC at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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