St. Peter, Minn. – Thanks to an early goal and a stifling defensive effort in the second half, the Gustavus men’s soccer team was able to come away with a 2-0 victory over Bethel University on Friday afternoon at the Gustie Soccer Field. Gustavus gets back on track and picks up a valuable three points with the win, improving to 8-2-1 overall and 4-1-1 in the MIAC. Bethel drops to 2-10-0 overall and 1-4-0 in the MIAC with the loss.
“A good performance in difficult windy and blustery conditions at the pitch today,” said Head Coach Mike Middleton. “We controlled most of the game and scored a couple of nice goals, as well as created a host of chances. This result and performance will make for a nice weekend for everyone – the lads were terrific once again and have certainly earned some well-deserved rest.”
Battling through their first true cold-weather test of the season, the Gusties controlled possession for large portions of the opening minutes. Gustavus fired four shots on net within the first 15 minutes, yet couldn’t find a way to beat the Bethel goalkeeper until the later stages of the half.
Following several lineup changes near the halfway point of the opening half, Gustavus began to dictate play and generate good runs at the net. One of those runs resulted in Zach Brown being taken down just outside the box by Deogratious Mungruri in the 40th minute. Mungruri was given a yellow card and Gustavus was awarded a free kick. After David Lilly (So., Maple Grove, Minn.) knocked the ball into the box it was kicked around before finding the foot of Zach Brown (So., Eau Claire, Wis.). Brown put the ball in the back of the net at 40:48 to give Gustavus a 1-0 advantage.
“David Lilly was imperious in the center of midfield and created the first goal for Zach Brown who scored with the aplomb of a real predator,” said Middleton.
The goal by Brown turned out to be the game-winner, his sixth of the season. The sophomore now has eight goals and two assists for a team-high 18 points on the year.
Gustavus carried a 9-to-3 shots advantage into the second half and would not allow another Bethel look on the goal until the 84th minute of the match. Once Lilly was charged with a yellow card at the 84:24 mark, Kolten Fischer drove a free kick at the top right corner of the net. Gustavus goalkeeper Brett Ylonen (So., Lake Elmo, Minn.) had a bead on the ball the entire distance and came up with the leaping save – his only one of the half.
The Gusties countered four minutes later with a 3-on-1 break. Casey Gilbert (Jr., Marshfield, Wis.) moved the ball to Sam Leske (Fr., Hampton, Minn.) at the center of the pitch, and Leske led Charlie Adams (Fr., Stillwater, Minn.) to the net with a feed up the right side. After Adams’ initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper Chris Scott, the rookie followed up with his own rebound goal, adding insurance to the lead.
“The second goal was taken extremely well by Charlie Adams – it was a finish Steven Gerrard would have been proud of. Nice approach play from over-lapping full-back Sam Leske and forward Casey Gilbert,” commented Middleton on the Adams goal.
The goal is Adam’s second of the year and first since Sept. 2 against Puget Sound.
Thanks to a suffocating effort by the back line, the Gusties finished with a 21-to-4 shots advantage in the match. Gustavus also had three corner kick opportunities compared to Bethel’s two.
Keeper Brett Ylonen earned his fourth complete-game shutout victory of the season by way of a two save effort this afternoon. Ylonen is now 7-2-1 on the year with a 0.75 goals against average and an .843 save percentage.
Coach Middleton commended the showings of many after the match, but concluded that it was a terrific all-around team effort and a good way to bounce back from a tough conference loss.
“Excellent performances from Ryan Ragan in the center of the park and from left-sided defender Nick Keiser. That was the most time he has played, and didn’t he do well. Zach Schmith and Lucas Thompson were top class in the center of the defense, and Sean Sendelbach worked like a Trojan. I was also very happy with Eric Schneider’s play this afternoon – he is a very intelligent player. With that said, all the lads played well. However, they were very happy to get back their big coats and bobble hats at the end of the game.”
The Gustavus men’s soccer team will be back in action on Wednesday, Oct. 10 when it travels to St. Paul to face Hamline at 4:00 p.m.