The Gustavus men’s soccer team closed out regular season play with a hard fought 2-1 win over St. Thomas in St. Peter on Saturday afternoon. The Gusties jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Mark Adams and Ben Eriksson and then held off a late Tommie rally to claim the important conference win. Gustavus finished conference play in second place with an 8-2-0 record (16 points) and will now host #3 seed Augsburg (7-2-1, 15 points) in St. Peter in the first round of the MIAC Playoffs on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Carleton defeated St. Olaf 2-0 on Saturday allowing the Knights to claim the conference title with a record of 8-1-1 (17 points) and snap the Gusties string of four consecutive league crowns.
Gustavus took a 1-0 lead on Saturday when Mark Adams one touched a cross from Bret VanderStreek into the near corner of the net in the 13th minute.
The Gusties increased the lead to 2-0 when Ben Eriksson scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the 62nd minute. Eriksson took a pass from VanderStreek on the right side of the field about 25 yards out and faked to his right before spinning to his left and floating a left-footed shot into the upper left corner of the goal.
St. Thomas battled back and cut the lead to 2-1 when Mike Hutton beat a Gustie up the right side and drove a bullet into the lower left corner from about 18 yards out in the 73rd minute.
Both teams had several strong scoring opportunities in the final 15 minutes of the game, but the Gusties held on for the important victory.
Gustavus narrowly outshot St. Thomas 14-12 and held a slim 5-4 advantage in corner kicks. St. Thomas goalkeeper Carlos Castellan recorded seven saves, while Gustavus keeper Luke Strom registered three saves.
With the win, the Gusties took a slim lead in the all-time series with the Tommies. Gustavus has now compiled a record of 22-21-10 in 53 meetings with St. Thomas. The Gusties have been on a roll lately posting a mark of 10-0-1 in the past 11 contests.
It was Senior Day at Gustavus as Flynn Stewart-Franzen, Ben Eriksson, Jesus Espina-Velosa, and Todd Johnson were honored for their dedication and commitment to the Gustavus men’s soccer program for the past four years.
The MIAC Playoffs are now set with Carleton earning the #1 seed by virtue of winning the MIAC Title outright. Gustavus is the #2 seed, Augsburg the #3 seed, and St. Thomas the #4 seed. Carleton will host St. Thomas, while Gustavus will host Augsburg on Tuesday, November 4. Start times have not been announced. The winners will play for the MIAC Playoff title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the site of the highest remaining seed.
Gustavus will be making its sixth appearance in the six-year history of the MIAC Post-Season Tournament. The Gusties have won five of the six MIAC Playoff titles including two straight. Gustavus is 8-0-1 all-time in MIAC Tournament play.