The Gustavus men’s soccer team nearly pulled off a major upset in the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament in Redlands, California on Saturday afternoon. The Gusties played second ranked University of Redlands to a 0-0 tie through two overtimes before losing 4-3 in a shootout.
While the first half was quite evenly played, host Redlands had the better of the scoring opportunities. The Gusties rose to the occassion each time, however due to a big save by goalkeeper Andy Moulton or key takeaway by defenders Joe Palmer, Elliot Stewart-Franzen and Grant Morlock. Gustavus did have two solid scoring chances but came up empty each time. Redlands outshot Gustavus 7-2 in the first half.
In the second half, Redlands came out strong and put together two significant scoring opportunities in the first five minutes of play. The first opportunity was a blast from Bulldog midfielder Adam Acosta from about 18 yards out that hit the crossbar. The second was a point blank shot by forward Sam Mirkovich that was smothered by Andy Moulton. Play settled down in the middle part of the half until Gustavus would get its best chance of the day with about 19 minutes left in the match. Joe Hartwell sent a direct kick into the Redlands penalty box and right onto the foot of midfielder Bobby Kroog who re-directed the ball sharply at the Redlands goal, however Bulldog goalkeeper Geoff Raives was right there to catch the shot.
Both overtimes were played primarily in the midfield with neither team mounting a significant scoring opportunity. The very physical match took its toll on both teams as several players were taken off the field with leg cramps. The game was played in mild conditions with overcast skies and the temperature at about 55 degrees.
In the shootout, Redlands won the toss and elected to shoot first. Adam Acosta scored for the Bulldogs and Joe Palmer countered for the Gusties. Silverio Martinez shot second for Redlands and scored, while Jordan Iblinds failed to score for Gustavus when he hit the left post, giving Redlands a 2-1 lead. K.C Nordfors extended the Redlands lead to 3-1 when he beat goalkeeper Andrew Moulton. Gustavus cut the lead to 3-2 when Elliot Stewart-Franzen found the net. Redlands pushed the lead to 4-2 Eric Rolwing scored, but the Gusties countered right back on a goal by Bobby Kroog. Things got interesting when Moulton came up with a spectacular save against the Bulldogs David Epstein. Gustavus had the chance to even the shootout at 4-4, but Ryan Kaufman’s attempt was pushed aside by Redlands keeper Geoff Raives giving the Bulldogs the victory.
Gustavus ended its season with a 16 match unbeaten string which included 11 wins and five ties. During that string, the Gusties outscored their opponents 34-3.
Redlands which improved to 18-1-1 will now move on to face the winner of the UC-Santa Cruz vs. Linfield College match on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1 pm (PST).