St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s soccer team used a strong first half to propel itself past Saint Mary’s on the way to a 3-0 shutout victory on Tuesday afternoon at the Gustie Soccer Field. Sticking to the recent trend, sophomore striker Zach Brown (Eau Claire, Wis.) stole the show once again. Brown scored the opening two goals of the contest to extend his goal-scoring streak to three matches.
Gustavus picks up three points with the win and remains alone atop the conference standings with 10 points on the season. The Gusties improve to 7-1-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the MIAC , while Saint Mary’s drops to 3-6-0 overall and 1-3-0 in the MIAC with the loss.
“A very accomplished performance from the team today. I have to admit I was absolutely delighted with them,” said Head Coach Mike Middleton. “I thought we were terrific in possession and moved the ball beautifully at times. I really enjoyed watching us play, an excellent day at the office.”
Zach Brown put the Gusties on the scoreboard first at the 13:01 mark. After freshman Jason Schwab (Stillwater, Minn.) launched a rocket at the net from 25 yards out, goalkeeper Christian Van Dam was forced to make a leaping punch save. The ball then rebounded off the hands of the Saint Mary’s goalkeeper onto the head of Zach Brown. Brown was on the doorstep waiting to knock the ball into an open net for the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner.
The sophomore striker put Gustavus on top 2-0 twenty minutes later with another nifty goal from just outside the penalty box. Brown created space near the top left corner of the box before tucking a left-footed boomer in the top left corner of the net.
“What a second goal from Zach Brown – top corner, left footed from 20 yards. You will not see a better goal scored anywhere all season,” commented Middleton. “The crowd were out of their seats in appreciation: it was an absolute cracker.”
Gustavus went into the break with a 2-0 lead and a 13-1 shot advantage. Saint Mary’s created one chance at the net in the first half on a breakaway by Jacob Bina, but goalkeeper Brett Ylonen (So., Lake Elmo, Minn.) was up to the challenge and made a sprawling save to keep the shutout intact.
At the 53:32 mark of the second half, rookie Konnor Tranoris (Des Moines, Iowa) brought the score to a final at 3-0 with a goal from 15 yards out. Tranoris brought down a Ryan Ragan (So., Shakopee, Minn.) pass, turned and fired the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Gustavus finished with 21 shots compared to Saint Mary’s five in the match. Brett Ylonen picked up the victory after making three saves in 66:14 of work. Braden Schmid (So., West Fargo, N.D.) finished the final 23:46 of the match, making one save along the way.
Coach Middleton commended the play of both his younger players and veterans after the match. “Jason Schwab was exceptional and Charlie Adams is so accomplished on the ball, he really allows us to play. Grant Steine had as good a game as I’ve seen him play for a while, and Evan Odean had his best game of the year – bursting forward with great pace.”
“The movement of Sean Sendelbach caused their defense huge problems. I actually thought the unsung hero of he match was probably Zach Schmith – he was exceptional at the back.”
With a pair of goals today against Saint Mary’s, Zach Brown becomes the first Gustavus soccer player in the last 21 years to soccer two goals in back-to-back matches. He now leads the team with 16 points on seven goals and two assists.
The Gustavus men’s soccer team will be back on the pitch Saturday, Sept. 29 when it takes on Carleton at 1:00 p.m. in St. Peter, Minn.