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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Men’s Soccer rebounds after streak-ending loss

<ccer team had their nine-game undefeated streak snapped this week, as a 1-0 loss to Bethel University marked the first time the Knights had lost since their 1-0 loss to Luther College on September 21st.

The defeat to Bethel also represented the end of the Knights’ undefeated MIAC record, a feat that had not been achieved since 2007. Despite their weekend loss to Bethel, the Knights prevailed 2-1 in a physical, hard-fought overtime win against St. Thomas on Wednesday, making Carleton the first team in the MIAC to clinch a spot in the postseason.

The Knights came in to their contest versus Bethel extremely confident, riding a nine-game undefeated streak in addition to being the only undefeated team left in the MIAC. Meanwhile, Bethel was hovering around the lower end of the table, only a few points from the bottom of the MIAC standings.

From the opening whistle, Bethel came out with a hunger and desire to win that overwhelmed the Knights, creating several unforced errors that the Royals were fortunately unable to convert. With the exception of one or two through balls behind the Bethel defense, the Knights were relatively toothless in the attack during the first half, and the game remained scoreless going into halftime.

The second half, however, saw a fiesty and tenacious Carleton side put Bethel under immense pressure for the opening fifteen minutes in the second half, with Will Corcoran ’14 and Nathan Park ’15 coming closest for the Knights. But the Knights were unable to capitalize on their brief spell of dominance, allowing the Royals to strike in the 65th minute.

A cross from Martin Manocchio ’14 found an open Micah Schedler ’12 inside the six-yard box, and Schedler scored to hand Bethel the lead. The goal marked the first time since 2006 that Bethel was able to score a goal on Carleton, and the first time since 2004 that Bethel has led the Knights during any MIAC contest.

The Knights almost found an immediate equalizer, but Corcoran’s touch towards goal was a bit too heavy and was collected by Bethel goalkeeper Leif Sundberg ’12. The Knights continued to push numbers forward for the duration of the match, but were unable to find the desired equalizer and suffered their first defeat in the MIAC.

Eager to put their disappointing loss to Bethel behind them, the Knights travelled to St. Paul to take on St. Thomas in a crucial match for both sides. With a win, Carleton would not only clinch a playoff spot, but would eliminate St. Thomas from playoff contention; St. Thomas needed to win their final two games to have a shot at postseason play.
Encounters between these two teams have traditionally been tense and physical, and this year’s contest proved no exception. Goalkeeper James Neher ’14 was forced to make several key saves in the opening minute, including a diving save to push aside a dangerous volley from Mike Hutton ‘12.

However, the Knights continued to attack, and in the 41st minute, a throw-in from Patrick Mayeda ’15 found Brian Rhodes ’13.  Tommie goalkeeper Jace Leiferman ’14 could not gather Rhodes’s cross cleanly, and the resulting failed clearance went instead to Park, who rifled a shot past Leiferman and handed the Knights a 1-0 lead.

With their backs against the wall, St. Thomas began the second half with a newfound sense of commitment and purpose, and quickly began to control the run of play. Hutton was particular threatening when his free kick in the 59th minute curled up and over the defensive wall, but fortunately for the Knights, Neher made a fantastic sprawling save to keep the Tommies goalless.

Controversy followed in 77th minute, as Hutton stepped up to take a controversial penalty kick, and struck his penalty right down the middle. Neher dove to his right, but his legs trailed behind and got a piece of Hutton’s poorly hit shot.
The ball bounced away towards the post and Hutton, with the net gaping, missed his rebound, hitting it off the post. Hutton redeemed his terrible penalty, though. with a looping volley over Neher, equalizing the game at 1-1. The Knights continued to press for the winner during regulation, but could not put the match away.

Despite St. Thomas’ dominance in the second half, Carleton threatened early, and only two minutes into the first overtime period, a long ball from Devin Tomson-Moylan ’15 was flicked on by a leaping Tim Wills ’12. Wills’ header put a streaking Corcoran clean on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, and he slotted the ball home from twelve yards to give Carleton the 2-1 victory, clinching a playoff spot for the fifth consecutive season for the Men’s soccer team.

The MIAC regular season ends this Saturday, and the Knights face cross-town rivals St. Olaf in a game with major playoff implications. A Carleton victory or tie would leave the Knights in first place, with at least a share of the MIAC championship, and a victory would give the Knights their fourth MIAC championship in the program’s history. The Knights’ first playoff game will take place on Wednesday, with the opponent, location, and time to be announced later.

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