ST. PETER, Minn. -- The Carleton College men’s soccer team saw its season come to an abrupt halt with a 1-0 loss to Westminster College (Mo.) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championships.
“It’s a heartbreaking way for us to go out,” said Carleton head coach Bob Carlson, “For all of the great moments the team has had this year—and for the seniors over the last four years—it really is tough to take that a team that played so well, so often came up short today.
“We weren’t at our best today, and Westminster was a big part of that. They made it difficult for us to play. We just didn’t do enough of the little things to come out of the victor.”
The neutral-site match was more or less a defensive grind for nearly the full 90 minutes of play. Carleton (15-3-3) managed to tally just seven shots the entire match, only four of which were on goal. For Westminster (12-8-1), the results weren’t much better. The Blue Jays unleashed only eight shots - testing Carleton keeper James Neher (Sr./Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi) with just three of them. It was the Blue Jays, however, that were able to find the back of the net in the 84th minute.
An attempted clearance bounced off the back of a Blue Jay and landed in the middle of the penalty box, right at the feet of Samuel Lopez. The Westminster forward took a settling touch, centered himself in front of the ball, and blasted a strike inside the left post. Despite Carleton’s best efforts down the stretch, the Blue Jays moved on to face host Gustavus Adolphus—which rallied late for a 2-1 overtime victory over St. Scholastia—in the second round of tournament play.
The Carleton offense did have a few solid chances in the second half. The best of these opportunities came about halfway through the period, when Jordy Cammarota (Jr./Neenah, Wis./Neenah) weaved through the stout Westminster defense and ripped a shot. As the shot screamed toward the left post, Westminster goalkeeper Raul Romero dove and snatched the ball out of the air. That stop proved to be just one of two diving saves by the Blue Jays goalie in the second half, both of which helped to set the stage for Lopez’ heroics late in the period.
With the 1-0 loss, the season comes to difficult close for the Knights, who say goodbye to a class of seven outstanding seniors. Along with Neher and Bartholomay, the collegiate careers of Will Corcoran (Mahtomedi, Minn./Mahtomedi), Simon Ginet (Arlington, Mass./Arlington), Michael Hovick (Clive, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley), Joey Pedtke (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township), and Ben Walsh (New Canaan, Conn./St. Paul's School) all come to an end.
“I’ve never seen a team so distraught over a result, whether it was in the national tournament or during the regular season, and that shows how much Carleton soccer means to these guys,” said Carlson. “I’ve forever grateful and proud of the effort these guys put in to representing Carleton, our athletic department, and our soccer program.”
“We’re going to miss the six seniors and they made their mark on Carleton soccer history.”
This men’s soccer class of 2014 has helped lead the Knights to four consecutive MIAC playoff appearances, two trips to the NCAA Division III tournament, and an impressive 55-18-8 overall record.