For the fifth time in six seasons, the Carleton Knights are MIAC Champs! Watch video highlights above.
NORTHFIELD, Minn. – It may have been senior day at Bell Field, but it was first-year Branden McGarrity (Glenview, Ill./Glenview) who won the day with his 10th-minute goal as the Carleton College men’s soccer team stood tall against cross-town rival St. Olaf to emerge with a 1-0 victory and a share of the MIAC regular-season crown. The title was the Knights’ fifth over the last six seasons, the second-best run in the history of MIAC men's soccer.
Carleton (16-1-1, 8-1-1 MIAC) made its move early when McGarrity picked off a pass from one end of the defensive wall to the other. He then weaved through a couple Oles to work his way inside the 18, slotting the ball past goalkeeper Henry Ullman into the right side of the net to give Carleton the only score of the match. It was the rookie’s 19th goal of the season, the ninth-highest single-season total in MIAC history and tying him with Dave Tolley (1975-78) for 10th on the Knights on Carleton’s career goal-scoring list.
Ullman kept the Oles close with a huge stop of his own later in the half, getting his right hand on a McGarrity shot headed toward the left side of the net.
After a collision in the 40th minute, Carleton keeper James Neher (Jr./Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi) was forced to leave the pitch with a bloody nose, and Keenan Smith (So./Madison, Wis./West) stepped in to replace him. While Smith only played the remainder of the half, he had very little time to get loose before making a potential game-saving stop. David Rosenthal, the 2011 conference player-of-the-year, unleashed a rocket from the left side, but Smith was equal to the task and calmly turned the attempt away with two minutes remaining in the half.
In the second half, St. Olaf (11-6-1, 6-3-1 MIAC) took to the offensive, tallying five shots including an extremely dangerous long-range attempt by Nick Lund that struck the left post. That bullet dodged, the Knights successfully ran out the remaining time, erasing some of the bitter taste from a pair of late-season setback vs. St. Olaf last season.
Neher, who returned for the Knights faced down 10 of St. Olaf’s 11 shots on the day, recording five saves. Smith’s huge save at the end of the first half helped contribute to the clean sheet.
“(St Olaf) is a really, really good offensive team, and they’ve got many, many weapons. It wasn’t our best day, especially connecting passes, but a champion wins when you don’t have your best day. Our back line was great,” said Carleton head coach Bob Carlson after the match.
The match was the final home regular-season match in the careers of seniors Tyler Bechtel (Mattawan, Mich./Mattawan), Derek Funk (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview), Morgan Murphy (Chicago, Ill./Univ. of Chicago Lab School), Brian Rhodes (Kalamazoo, Mich./Mattawan), Alex Voorhees (Winnetka, Ill./New Trier), and Joseph Waite (Ottawa, Canada/Upper Canada College). During their time at Carleton, the program has gone 54-19-4 (.727) overall and 30-7-3 (.788) in conference games en route to four trips to the post-season.
“I’m incredibly happy for the seniors,” Carlson said. “The seniors brought these young guys together and made them a complete unit.”
Carleton’s five championships over a six-year span are bettered only by Macalester College claiming a share of six title over seven seasons from 1997-2003.
While Carleton shared the MIAC regular-season title with Gustavus Adolphus College, the Knights will be the No. 1 seed in the four-team playoff due to a victory over the Gusties earlier this season. Carleton will host Saint John's University in a semifinal match on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m. Knights Online will feature live video and live stats.