On Saturday night, the Knights travelled to Augsburg’s Edor Nelson field for their first matchup of the week against a MIAC rival.
It was a night to remember for forward Peter Passalino ‘17. The first-year’s three goals, good for a hat trick and his first career multi-goal performance, proved decisive for the Carleton College men’s soccer team in a 3-1 road victory over Augsburg College.
“Peter was fantastic today,” said Carleton head coach Bob Carlson. He worked very hard the whole game, not just scoring goals. Our forwards worked hard the whole game, and I thought the backline did another great job. It’s very tough to pick up three points on the road, so we’re happy with the result.”
Needing those three standings points to keep pace towards the top of the crowded MIAC playoff picture, Carleton travelled to Minneapolis for a match at Edor Nelson Field. The Knights (10-1-2, 4-1-1 MIAC), who led Augsburg (8-5-1, 3-3 MIAC) by just one point in the conference standings before the evening began, were tasked with readying themselves for an unfamiliar situation: a game played under the lights. With the stadium beams shining brightly and the pressure on both clubs, it was Passalino, who seemed to relish the primetime atmosphere on Saturday night.
After an offensively limited first 45 minutes, the second period got off to a furious offensive start. In fact, it was this quick-strike, back-and-forth opening seven minutes of the second half that pretty much decided the match. The scoring started in the 49th minute when, you guessed it, Passalino received a long pass into the box, took a smart touch passed a hard-charging defender, and blasted the ball into the back of the net.
The Knights 1-0 lead, however, would not stand up for very long.
A half-minute later, after the restart from midfield, the Auggies’ Ben Henry found his way through an unsettled Carleton back line. Henry had the ball on his foot with plenty of space in the center of the box, and made the Knights pay. That equalizer seemed like a huge momentum swing for the Auggies. But the Knights were determined to strike back quickly.
In the 53rd minute, just four minutes after the back-to-back scores woke up both squads, Knights’ sophomore Branden McGarrity did what he does best—attack the defense. After pressing the ball forward towards the left corner of the Auggies back line, McGarrity took two strong touches towards the middle, blowing by a pair of Augsburg defenders.
The move opened up space, which was quickly filled with a well-timed and well-located run by Passalino. McGarrity’s third touch was left off for the Knights’ rookie, who sent a left-footed rocket over the leaping keeper’s fingertips, under the crossbar, and onto the scoreboard to give Carleton a 2-1 lead.
Although two goals would prove to be enough for Carleton, the visitors tacked on some insurance in the 87th minute, with McGarrity and Passalino once again teaming up. After using some fancy footwork to shake a defender near the left corner of the pitch, McGarrity sent a perfect cross into the box, over an Augsburg defender and right to where Passalino was waiting. The hat-trick was completed with a diving header by the Augsburg goalkeeper, capping a tremendous performance and sealing the victory for the Knights.
“That was simply a professional goal by both guys,” said Carlson, “but we still have some stuff to clean up as we turn our attention to the next match.”