The Men’s Soccer team, currently ranked 16th in the nation according to the NCAA poll, pulled off two impressive MIAC wins away from home, with victories against Macalester and Gustavus Adolphus improving the Knights’ record to 9-1 overall and 3-1 in MIAC play.
Goals by Will Corcoran ’14 and Branden McGarrity ’16 gave the Knights their first victory at Macalester Stadium since 2006, while the Knights’ 3-0 victory in St. Peter snapped the Gusties’ eight game unbeaten run. Despite relinquishing a significant amount of possession to Gustavus, the Knights’ defense expertly handled the initial waves of Gustavus offense, and goals by Alex Voorhees ’13, Will Schifeling ’15, and Branden McGarrity ’16 were enough to seal the emphatic victory.
On Wednesday night, the Knights came out to a quick start and put the Macalester backline under significant pressure, which paid off in the 13th minute. A swerving cross by Will Corcoran was handled inside the box by a Macalester defender and a penalty was given. Corcoran stepped up to take the penalty and sent the Scots goalie the wrong way to give Carleton the early lead.
The offensive onslaught continued and the Knights doubled their lead eight minutes later after some phenomenal build up play and a brilliant finish by Branden McGarrity. Following a fluid build up in the midfield, a loose ball landed at McGarrity’s feet 20 yards from goal. The first-year shimmied and created a yard of space between himself and two defenders and unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner for his 12th goal of the season.
Despite the two goal deficit, Macalester slowly began to get into the game, and in the 26th minute, Will Mackaman ’14 pulled a goal back for the Scots to make the score 2-1 going into halftime. Carleton’s second half performance was not of the highest caliber, but the Knights’ dogged defensive display was enough to shut out the Scots in the latter stages of the match, ensuring victory in one of the toughest places to play in the MIAC.
The Knights were going to need this tenacity on Saturday, as Gustavus, ranked top of the MIAC with an undefeated conference record, were looking for redemption after losing to Carleton in last year’s MIAC playoff semi-final. This determination and energy led to an offensive assault on the Carleton defense for the first ten minutes of the game.
The game cooled down after ten minutes when a freak collision between a Gustavus forward, James Neher ’14, and Tyler Bechtel ’13 led to a lengthy break in the match. Their replacements, Keenan Smith ’15 and Trent Elmore ’16, stepped in admirably, and the Knights began to find more opportunities to attack Gustavus goalie Brett Ylonen ’15.
While Gustavus had the majority of the possesion, the Knights were dangerous on the counter attack. Yet, despite the reliance on the counter, it was a quick, fluid spell of build up play that led to Carleton’s opening goal. McGarrity played in Will Schifeling on the left hand side, who held up the ball and found an onrushing Alex Voorhees, who smoothly evaded a Gustavus defender before curling his perfectly weighted shot past Ylonen’s outstretched arms. It was a dagger in the heart for Gustavus, the goal coming with just under six minutes left in the half, but it was a rush of adrenaline for Carleton, who began to assert themselves in the match until the referee blew the whistle for halftime.
The second half was similar to the first in many ways, with Gustavus retaining much of the possession, yet still were unable to breakdown a resolute and committed Knights defense. The backline of Elmore, Neil Bartholomay ’14, Devin Tomson-Moylan ’15, Brian Rhodes ’13 did well to deal with a potent Gustavus offense, and Keenan Smith was brave in the air and dealt with the endless amount of dangerous Gustavus free kicks.
The Knights, despite defending valiantly, still had goals in their arsenal, and a quick transition on the counter attack led to the second goal of the game. Voorhees intercepted a Gustavus pass and quickly passed to Corcoran, who sprung a galloping McGarrity towards the goal line. McGarrity found Derek Funk ’13 on the other side of the field, who then put in a tantalizing cross that drew Ylonen out of his net. A Gustavus defender’s lackluster clearance found Schifeling inside the six yard box, who headed the ball into the back of the net to double Carleton’s lead with fifteen minutes left to play.
The cherry on top came in the 86th minute, as Simon Ginet ’14 stripped a Gustavus defender to create a 2-on-1 attack, with McGarrity streaking alongside the junior forward. Ginet drew in the Gustavus defender before playing in McGarrity, who rounded the Ylonen to score his 13th goal of the season. This leaves the first-year forward two goals away from tying the record for most Carleton goals scored in a single-season. The Knights kept their fourth clean sheet of the season with the victory and moved into a tie for third place with nine points from MIAC play.
The Knights have a difficult set of games this weekend, but do have the luxury of both games being at home. Saturday’s contest sees the Auggies from Augsburg College come down to Northfield in a battle of the MIAC’s third-place teams in what will be a competitive league match.
The Knights will be back in action on Sunday afternoon, as they play non-conference foe St. Scholastica. The Knights lost the corresponding fixture last year in overtime, so they will be looking to redeem themselves and maintain a perfect non-conference record this season. Both games are at 1 PM.