St. Paul – Gustavus junior kicker Thomas Schleusener (Rapid City, S.D.) has been named the MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week following his performance in a 23-20 double overtime win over No. 22 Saint John’s on Saturday. Schleusener made three of his four field goal attempts on the afternoon, including the game-winner from 37 yards out in the second overtime to give the Gusties their first win over the Johnnies since 1997.
“It was a big day for him,” mentioned Head Coach Peter Haugen. “The field goals and PATs were obviously a big deal for our team on Saturday.”
Schleusener proved that he was ready for the big moment on Saturday, as all three of his field goals came in the fourth quarter and overtime. After connecting on both of his extra point tries earlier in the game, the soccer goalie turned placekicker split the uprights from a 39-yard distance on the second play of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 17-17. Fifteen minutes later, Schleusener lined up for his second field goal attempt, this one a 32-yard attempt with seven seconds remaining and a chance to win the game. He had enough leg, but just missed wide right to send the game to overtime.
Thomas shined in the extra period. He made his first attempt from 28 yards to give Gustavus a 20-17 lead. After Saint John’s tied the game with a field goal of its own, the Johnnies were stopped on their next possession, leaving the door open for the Gusties. Faced with a fourth-and-four, Head Coach Peter Haugen turned to his kicker for a second time to win the game. Schleusener did not let the second chance go to waste as he delivered with a 37-yard field goal to give Gustavus its first win over a top-25 team since 2008.
“He had a chance to win it when we got down to the end of regulation and he hit the ball really well, it just moved a little bit to the right,” said Haugen. “Sometimes you wonder how a guy is going to respond to that, but boy he responded well. We got him into overtime and he hit the first one. There was no question about the next one to win it either. He didn’t hesitate and kicked it with confidence. We are really proud of him for his efforts.”
In addition to his late-game heroics, Schleusener also handled the punting duties on Saturday. The Rapid City, S.D., native averaged 38.2 yards per punt, downed three inside the Johnnie 20-yard line, and forced two fair catches. Schleusener and the Gustavus punt team did not allow a single return yard the entire afternoon, a key in helping the Gusties maintain good field position.
“I also can’t say enough about how well he punted the ball,” finished Haugen. “He did a great job of pinning them deep, so it was a big day for him all around, not just kicking field goals. We are proud of him and thankful to have him.”