The Gustavus men’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second consecutive year with an impressive 3-0 win over Loras College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Gusties, who improved to 15-2-5, will face Fredonia State (NY) on Saturday at 12:00 pm (CST). Fredonia State advanced by virtue of outscoring host Calvin 3-2 on penalty kicks on Friday afternoon. The winner of Saturday’s match will advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four in Greensboro, North Carolina on November 25-26.
Against Loras, the Gusties got off to a slow start and had to hold off several early challenges from the Eagles. Goalkeeper Tyler Garry (Jr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) came up with one big save and central defender Jordan Iblings (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.) headed away a couple of well placed corner kicks by Loras. Midway through the first half, the momentum changed and Gustavus put together several good rushes that resulted in good scoring opportunities. With 15 minutes remaining in the first half, sophomore Jeffrey Johnson (Tonka Bay, Minn.) dropped a corner kick into the six-yard box that Loras goalkeeper Kevin Smerko could not handle. Gustavus defender Grant Morlock (Sr., Moorhead, Minn.) kept the ball alive with a well placed header to midfielder Bobby Kroog (Bloomington, Minn.) who drove the ball into the left corner to give the Gusties a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Gustavus played confidently with the 1-0 lead and controlled play for most of the half. The Gusties had two terrific chances by forward Mike Butterworth (So., Anchorage, Alaska) but both of Butterworth’s shots rolled inches wide to keep the score at 1-0. Senior forward Jeff Aasness (Moorhead, Minn.) gave the Gusties a 2-0 lead when he knocked a rebound past Loras’ Smerko with six minutes remaining in the match. Aasness’ goal was set up by a strong shot from Alex Groth (Jr., Waupaca, Wis.). Aasness set up the Gusties final goal when he was taken down by Loras goalkeeper Smerko in the box with less than two minutes left in the match. Senior midfielder Jon Astry (Eden Prairie, Minn.) converted the penalty kick to make the final score 3-0 in favor of the Gusties.
Gustavus outshot Loras 16-15 in the match, but the Gusties held an 8-4 advantage in corner kicks. Gustavus goalkeeper Tyler Garry made six saves and recorded his ninth shutout. Kevin Smerko recorded seven saves for Loras. Gustavus is now 6-1-0 all-time against Loras.
The Gustavus vs. Fredonia State match will be broadcast through the Gustavus website. The broadcast will begin at 12:00 pm (CST). Click here to link to the broadcast.