Tim Wills slots home his team-leading eighth goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 86th minute, but Carleton fell 3-1 to St. Olaf. The Knights still clinched a share of their fourth MIAC regular-season title in the last five years. (photo by Timmy Zhu '15)
NORTHFIELD, Minn.—Jim McKay, the famous sports announcer, famously opened ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” with the oft-quoted line “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”
Little did the Carleton College men’s soccer team realize it would experience those emotions within 30 minutes of each other on the final day of the regular season.
Needing a win or tie to lay claim to the MIAC’s regular-season title outright, the agony came when the Knights were beaten by Northfield rival St. Olaf College 3-1.
Thinking they’d lost the chance to win at least a share of their fourth conference regular-season title in the last five years, the Knights experienced the thrill when they learned that Macalester College earned a draw with host Gustavus Adolphus College, meaning the two Northfield schools shared the MIAC’s regular-season title and earned the top two seeds in next week’s conference tournament.
“Today was a tough day for us and hats off to St. Olaf for a great performance,” Carleton head coach Bob Carlson said. “Our guys, though, over the course of the season earned this title, and that’s a very special accomplishment that no one can take away from them.”
The two sides played a fairly even first half, with the Oles holding a 5-3 edge on shots, with the best chance for either side coming from the Oles’ David Rosenthal who had a point-blank chance from a tough angle go wide in the 30th minute. Carleton’s best opportunity was in the 33rd minute, but Miles Silbert’s (Sr./St. Louis Park, Minn.) shot from distance curled just outside the far post.
The Oles grabbed control in the second half when Rosenthal cut in from the right wing and finished in the 49th minute. The hosts maintained the upper hand and added a second goal when Nick Lund’s blast was stopped by Carleton keeper James Nehrer (So./Mahtomedi, Minn.), but Blake Dressen was left unmarked in front of the goalmouth and calmly tapped home the rebound for a 2-0 lead.
Nehrer came up with a couple of amazing stops in the 83rd minute to keep his squad close, somehow stopping a point-blank attempt and then, laying on the ground, redirecting the second shot up and over the cross bar.
Those saves loomed large when, in the 86th minute, Tim Wills (Sr./Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) earned a penalty kick when we was brought down from behind in the box. Wills calmly placed his penalty chance in the lower right corner for his team-leading eighth goal of the season, and with five minutes left the Knights trailed by only a goal, 2-1.
The Oles, though, scored but 90 seconds later when Jake Stark gathered in a long pass on the left flank, cut back inside and beat Nehrer from 15 yards out to the far post on a ball that appeared to be mishit and took a funny hop up and over an outstretched Nehrer.
The Oles outshot the Knights 13-6 and put five of those attempts on target compared to only three for the Knights. Carleton did hold a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
The Knights now turn their attention to the MIAC Playoffs, where they’ll host third-seeded Gustavus Adolphus College on Wednesday, Nov. 2. The two sides played to a scoreless draw at Bell Field back on October 1. Game time is tentatively set for 2 p.m., with Knights Online featuring a live video broadcast.