The Gustavus Adolphus College men’s soccer teams has high hopes for the 2007 season as 12 seniors return from a squad that was co-champions of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in 2006 and also won the MIAC Post-Season Tournament. Coach Larry Zelenz will rely on all-region senior forward Mike Butterworth as well as three-year starters Jeffrey Johnson (midfielder) and Ben Heupel (defense) to lead a squad that begins the year ranked 18th in the d3kicks.com poll and 23rd in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Division III poll.
Butterworth (Anchorage, AK), a senior captain, contributed nearly a quarter of the offense last year scoring 23 points (9 goals, 5 assists). His exceptional speed and ball control skills will make him a primary target for center midfielder Jeffrey Johnson (Tonka Bay, MN), who is the other senior captain on this year’s squad. Johnson is a talented distributor of the ball who will be one of the top midfielders in the conference and region this year. Sophomore Fraser Horton (Missoula, MT) will join Johnson in the middle, while senior Ryan Beduhn (St. Cloud, MN), senior Jack Underwood (Fergus Falls, MN), and freshman Max Malmquist (Salt Lake City, UT) will rotate into the outside midfield spots. Horton moved into the starting lineup as a freshman last year and performed well. Beduhn and Underwood are three-year letterwinners with valuable experience, while Malmquist is a skilled newcomer who has performed well in pre-season practice.
Joining Butterworth at forward will be senior Tim Gendron (Burnsville, MN), junior Ben Eriksson (Madison, WI), and sophomore Jesus Espina-Velosa (Hopkins, MN) all of whom played in reserve roles last season. A key addition up front will be sophomore transfer Bret Vander Streek. Vander Streek, a native of Pella, Iowa, was a starter at Division I Saint Francis University (Penn.) last year.
Gustavus will look to continue its tradition of stingy defense as its defensive core returns all four starters including senior Sam Barthell (Bloomington, MN), junior Flynn Stewart-Franzen (Minneapolis, MN), senior Ben Heupel (Maple Grove, MN), and senior Matt Strom (Plymouth, MN). This group teamed with graduated goaltender Tyler Garry to rank eighth in Division III last year with a 0.40 goals against average. Gustavus tied for second in shutouts nationally with 15. The biggest question for Zelenz in regards to the defense is who will be between the posts this season. With the graduation of Tyler Garry, any starting goalkeeper will have little experience at the collegiate level. Four players are contenders for the starting goalkeeper job including senior Trevor Brown (Madison, WI), sophomore Josh Busacker (Orono, MN), and first-year students Luke Strom (Plymouth, MN) and Steve Lundberg (Apple Valley, MN). Brown is the lone keeper with any collegiate experience as he played in four games last year (starting one) and posted a record of 1-0-0 with a 1.41 goals against average.
The Golden Gusties will be tested early as they play St. Norbert, another team that lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, on neutral territory September 8th. A rematch against co-MIAC conference winner St. John’s takes place September 22nd in Collegeville. The Johnnies handed Gustavus its only conference loss a year ago. The biggest test will come during a two-week span in October when the team will host emerging Augsburg, perennial MIAC contender Macalester and 10th ranked UC-Santa Cruz.