The curtain finally closed for the Men’s soccer team last Saturday as they fell, 3-2, in a scintillating double overtime match against St. Olaf in the MIAC Playoff final. Despite two first-half goals and some solid goalkeeping by James Neher ’14, after 107 minutes of resilient defending, the Knights gave up the game-winning goal with three minutes left in the second overtime period to give the Oles an automatic birth in the NCAA tournament and the MIAC Playoff title.
The game began at a blistering pace, with the Knights generating a phenomenal opportunity to take an early lead in the first five minutes. After a Carleton corner kick, Neil Bartholomay ’14 sent the ball back across the box. Devin Tomson-Moylan ’15 powered a header towards the corner of the net, forcing a fantastic sprawling effort from Ole goalie Harry Ullmann ’13. Heroic goalkeeping was again on the cards in the 10th minute, as St. Olaf was given a penalty kick after David Rosenthal ‘14 was fouled. Fortunately, Neher was up to the task, as Rosenthal’s shot was well within Neher’s reach. After Neher’s initial save, the rebound went over the crossbar to keep the scoreline tied at zero.
The play continued to go from end to end, but the Oles drew first blood in the 23rd minute, as Blake Dressen ’12 slotted home from twelve yards after a scramble in the Knights’ penalty box. Although the goal gave St. Olaf a 1-0 lead, Carleton responded in the 38th minute. On a set piece, Alex Voorhees ’13 sent a driven ball to the far post to an onrushing Bartholomay, who headed the ball back across the box. Tomson-Moylan received the ball and volleyed his shot towards the side netting to give the Knights a well-deserved equalizer.
Just five minutes later, the Knights stunned St. Olaf with yet another a goal from set piece, which began when Will Corcoran ’14 played a short corner kick to Ryan Cammarota ’12. As Carleton fans have seen many times in his illustrious career, Cammarota’s deft footwork allowed him to elude two onrushing Ole defenders, and his cross found Tim Wills ’12 six yards away from goal. Wills quickly trapped the ball, adjusted his body, and smashed his shot into the back of the net to give some optimism to the traveling contingent of Carleton fans. Headed into halftime, the possibility of a second MIAC title for the program looked high.
The second half remained even, until some odd officiating and miscommunication gifted the Oles with an equalizer in the 66th minute. After a highly questionable foul was called against Carleton, Rosenthal’s free kick slipped through Carleton’s defense, leaving Neher unable to react fast enough. The goal was Rosenthal’s 13th of the season.
Despite the unfortunate second goal, Neher repelled wave after wave of St. Olaf set pieces with powerful punches to keep the Knights in the game. Carleton’s defense remained resilient and held the Oles to a 2-2 draw going into overtime.
Overtime saw the Oles continue their attack, but Neher and the rest of the Carleton defense fought to keep the scoreline even. The best chance of the first overtime period belonged to Carleton, as Jordy Cammarota ’15 forced Ullmann into a crucial diving save. The Knights continued to resist the Ole onslaught during the second overtime period, but with only three minutes left until penalties, a Carleton clearance went directly to Rosenthal, who dribbled towards the center of field and struck a blistering right-footed ball from twenty yards away. His shot went directly in the corner of the net, sending the St. Olaf crowd swarming onto the field to lift Rosenthal, the man of the hour, aloft into the crisp, autumn air.
Despite receiving their MIAC regular-season title after the game, the Knights were clearly disappointed with the outcome, a state that was not helped by the obvious elation of the St. Olaf players and coaches. Sadly, the Knights were not considered for the NCAA tournament, ending the 2011 campaign. Still, the Knights have much to be proud of, having amassed a 12-6-2 record and a MIAC regular-season title. It was the fourth title in five years for the Knights.
While offseason preparations will begin in the coming weeks for most players, four players have played their final game for the Knights. Wills, Cammarota, Miles Silbert, and Andrew Thappa have composed one of the most successful classes in Men’s soccer history. Earning three MIAC regular-season titles and one postseason MIAC crown, these four players have left a legacy that will be remembered for decades. Overall, the graduating seniors have amassed a 30-7-3 (.788) record in MIAC play, and a 55-20-6 record overall. That number was the second-highest in Carleton history for a single class.
Despite having his senior season cut short by a knee injury, Thappa, a midfielder, reflects fondly on his four years on the men’s soccer team. “I have been lucky to be a part of a number of fantastic squads over the years,” he said. “While we didn’t get to the NCAA tournament as many times as we wanted, we still had a pretty good run.”
Cammarota’s brilliance has been evident through his entire four years as a staple in the Knights’ attack. “I’m going to miss a lot of things, but I will definitely miss playing with Tim and how we would always know where the other one would be. I’ll miss joking around with everybody and the team camaraderie,” he said. Cammarota also had the luck to play with his younger brother Jordan throughout the season. “One of my most memorable moments, among many, was playing with my brother Jordan and assisting him against St. Scholastica this year,” he reflected.
Silbert’s breathtaking pace has been a thorn in the side of MIAC defenses during his four years at Carleton. His striking partnership with Wills the previous two years has been a key reason for Carleton’s success in the MIAC, and his crucial goals this season against St. John’s and Concordia were important moments in Carleton’s pursuit of the MIAC crown.
Finally, Wills ends his career at Carleton with 103 points, the most in the program’s history. Holding the team record in both goals and assists, Wills’ tremendous effort and inspiring leadership were instrumental for the Knights’ fourth MIAC championship in the last five years. His down-to-earth style and unselfishness both on and off the field is the model behavior for anyone entering the men’s soccer team, and his will to win is second to none. His legend will live on in Carleton soccer history, and he, just like the other three seniors, will be missed next year.