St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s soccer team earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Concordia College on Saturday afternoon at the Gustie Soccer Field. In their first match in St. Peter since the season-opener on Aug. 30, the Gusties gave the home crowd an exciting finish on Alumni Day. In the 84th minute with the score knotted at 0-0, David Lilly (Jr., Maple Grove, Minn.) put the ball on the foot of Sean Sendelbach (Sr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) and the senior captain put it in the back of the net.
“Really pleasing performance today,” said Head Coach Mike Middleton. “We moved the ball well against a well organized, determined and physical team. It’s great see the players play so well in tight spaces, be able to switch the ball quickly and attack both down the flanks and through the middle.”
Sendelbach’s game-winner, which was his first goal of the season, lifted Gustavus to an overall record of 5-1-1 and an MIAC mark of 2-0-0. With the loss, Concordia drops to 1-5-1 overall and 0-1-0 in the MIAC.
“Concordia parked the bus a times, making life pretty difficult,” Middleton said. We still kept playing with great skill, no little panache, and great aplomb. Funnily enough though, the goal was eventually forced through sheer will-power, drive and mental strength. When style is not the answer we had the determination to prosper – that was great to see.”
Neither team could find the back of the net through the opening 45 minutes, as Gustavus carried an 8-3 shots advantage into the second half.
The Gusties came out of the locker room fired up and controlled possession through good stretches of the second half. Of Gustavus’s 12 shots fired in the frame, it was the 11th taken at the 83:43 mark by Sendelbach that proved to be the game-winner. Once again, it was David Lilly providing the assist. Of the junior midfielder’s team-leading three dimes this season, all three have led to the game-winning goal. The last came on Wednesday when Lilly set up Zach Brown (Jr., Eau Claire, Minn.) for the game-winner against Carleton.
Middleton thought his club turned in a complete team effort but was especially pleased with the play of his midfield. “I really thought the engine room of the central midfield – David Lilly and Sean Sendelbach – was terrific,” he commented. “Patrick Roth played really well when he came on, as this was a bit of a break-through performance from him. The attacking midfield players Eric Schneider and Charlie Adams have such style. Charlie may be the most talented player in possession in the league, and what a great goal from Sean Sendelbach. If ever a player deserved it, he did.”
Earning his second complete-match shutout of the season was Brett Ylonen (Jr., Lake Elmo, Minn.), who turned away all three shots he faced over the entirety of the contest. Peter Runquist of Concordia suffered the loss after allowing the lone goal and making 12 saves in 90 minutes.
Gustavus finished with a 20-5 advantage in shots and a 10-1 edge in corner kick opportunities. Of Concordia’s 12 saves in the match, eight of them came in the second half.
“It’s going to be a really tough game on Tuesday,” said Middleton about Gustavus’s upcoming contest against Wartburg College. “Unfortunately we are sweating on the fitness of stalwart Zach Schmith, who was banged around today but who also played an outstanding match at the back. Lets keep our fingers crossed and see if we can’t ride this momentum into Tuesday.”
The Gusties will face the Knights at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24 on the Gustie Soccer Field.