Despite a spirited second-half performance, topped off by senior Alex Voorhees’ brilliant goal from a free kick, the Men’s soccer team had their perfect start to the season snapped at the hands of St. John’s University in a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss. The Knights were previously 4-0 before the loss, the best start for the program since 2008. Following the loss to St. John’s, the Knights bounced back in positive fashion with a resounding 5-2 win at home against Luther College, with first-year Branden McGarrity getting his second hat trick of the season to increase his goal tally to eight on the year.
The trip up to St. John’s marked the start of the MIAC campaign for the Knights, who chalked up four non-conference victories prior to the game, while in the process outscoring their opponents by a 18-2 differential. The Knights came into the game not only looking to start the MIAC campaign with a victory, but also to defend their MIAC regular-season title, as they have won four regular-season titles in the past five seasons.
However, once the opening whistle blew, the Knights were in for a tough game, as the Johnnies were flying all over the field, using physical play to stifle the Knights’ attack. The first half was a tense affair, with both teams having chances to break the deadlock, but the sides went into halftime scoreless.
Ten minutes into the second half, St. John’s took the lead, as David Wee ’15 put back a rebound following a failed clearance from a free kick. The goal served as a wake up call for the Knights, who proceeded to dominate the game and create plenty of offensive opportunities. The pressure paid off in the 65th minute, as Alex Voorhees ’13 hit a low, driven free kick into the net to give Carleton a well-deserved equalizer. The Knights continued to press for the gamewinner, with the best chance falling to McGarrity as time expired. The forward did well to take down a long pass from Tyler Bechtel ’13, but his volley was shot right at the St. John’s goalie, thus ensuring extra time.
Despite Carleton’s dominance in the second half, it was the Johnnies who struck the decisive blow five minutes into overtime, with Zane Heinselman ’15 capitalizing on a loose ball in the Carleton six yard box to give St. John’s the win. The loss marked the first time since 2006 that the Knights had lost to the Johnnies. It was also the first time since 2006 that the Knights lost their first MIAC game.
The Knights, however, had relatively little time to dwell on their tough loss, as they welcomed Luther to Bell Field on Sunday afternoon. Carleton took little time—36 seconds to be exact—to get the game’s first goal. A long ball by Devin Tomson-Moylan ’15 found a streaking McGarrity, who blew by the Norse defense and slotted home past Luther goalkeeper Peter Wright to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead.
The Knights had another opportunity to extend the lead from the penalty spot, but Will Corcoran ’14 saw his kick saved by Wright, who pushed the ball aside for a corner kick. From the ensuing corner, Derek Funk ’13 found McGarrity inside the six-yard box, and the first-year volleyed home to double the Knights’ lead. The onslaught continued two minutes later, as Corcoran slipped a through ball to Simon Ginet ’14, who latched onto the pass and coolly finished past Wright to score his fourth goal of the season. The Norse took advantage of a free kick right outside the box in the 35th minute, as Logan Martell swerved the shot past Keenan Smith ’15 to cut the deficit to two going into halftime.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first, as the Knights got the opening goal in the 55th minute. A miscued header from a Luther defender hit the crossbar and McGarrity’s header hit the roof of the net to give the Knights a 4-2 lead and McGarrity his hat trick. A dodgy call by the referee gave Luther a penalty in the 77th minute, with Saul Rosales giving the Norse a glimmer of hope of coming back into the match. These hopes, however were dashed 23 seconds later, as Nathan Park ’15 cut inside from the right wing and sent a left-footed rocket inside the near post to give the Knights their fifth goal of the game.
The Knights’ efforts this season have not gone unnoticed in the collegiate soccer world, as they are ranked third in the region according to the NSCAA, in addition to being ranked 23rd in the nation. The Knights intend to continue their good start to the season with two games this weekend, both at home and at 1:00 PM on Bell Field. On Saturday, the Knights look to record their first victory in the MIAC against Concordia College, while Sunday’s contest is a non-conference matchup against Nebraska Wesleyan.