St. Peter, Minn. – After a scoreless first half that lacked any real opportunities on either end of the pitch, Gustavus striker Zach Brown (Jr., Eau Claire, Wis.) took the match into his own hands and broke the ice with a goal in the 61st minute. Brown scored again in the 82nd minute to give the men’s soccer team a 2-0 victory over Macalester College on Saturday afternoon at the Gustie Soccer Field.
With the win and just three matches remaining in the regular season, Gustavus sits along atop the conference standings with 21 points. Gustavus improved to 10-2-1 overall and 7-0-0 in the MIAC, while Macalester dropped to 6-7-2 overall and 2-4-2 in the MIAC. It has been since the 2002 season that a Gustavus team has won its first seven MIAC matches. The 2002 team went 7-0-0 before dropping two of its last three contests to finish second in the league.
“Great to get the win today against a stubborn, determined Macalester side,” said Head Coach Mike Middleton after the match. “The first half was not our best performance, but we came out in the second half and made the game safe. The lads showed terrific character after I was pretty hard on them at halftime. They certainly proved that they get results even when not at their most fluid.”
Despite Gustavus holding an 8-1 advantage in shots in the first half, the match remained scoreless through the opening 45 minutes. Macalester goalkeeper Noah Schoenberg made four saves in the opening half, while his counterpart, Brett Ylonen (Jr., Lake Elmo, Minn.), was not challenged.
Seizing a chance to make a run in the 61st minute, Charlie Adams (So., Stillwater, Minn.) hit Zach Brown in stride moving with speed up the right side of the box. With a low, right-foot drive, Brown tucked the ball inside the left post to give Gustavus 1-0 lead.
“A touch of absolute class from Charlie, bringing the ball down, moving inside, and making a sublime pass to Zach Brown,” said Middleton about the opening goal of the match. “Zach’s run was stunningly good and he finished the chance with the poise of a Premier League player. It was the kind of goal that you rarely see at this level – it was like watching Arsenal play.”
“To be able to do that at 0-0 shows the class of this team,” continued Middleton. “We can all look good when we are well in front, but to pull out a goal like that, given the situation, was stunning.”
Gustavus’s defense went into shutdown mode after Brown’s go-ahead goal, allowing just two shots for the remaining minutes of the match.
In the 82nd minute, Brown struck again. Midfielder Sean Sendelbach (Sr., Sioux Falls, S.D.) picked off a pass at midfield and worked his way up the pitch before eventually leading Brown into an open area at the right of the goal with a through-ball that made its way past several defenders. Unchallenged and in the clear, Brown drove the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the match.
“Zach Brown was at his most determined today,” Middleton said about his junior forward. “He looked so quick, so lively, and so dynamic. His movement was excellent and his finishing was absolutely clinical. His second goal was taken with All-American class and such style – I’m so pleased for him.”
With two goals this afternoon, Brown brings his season total to eight. He now has a total of 19 points (8G, 3A) and four game-winning goals on the year. Charlie Adams recorded his first assist of the season on the opening goal, and Sean Sendelbach notched his second dime on the insurance goal.
Gustavus finished with a 17-4 advantage in shots and an 8-3 edge in corners.
Brett Ylonen improved to 10-2-1 with his fourth complete-match shutout of the season. Ylonen made a total of two saves, bringing his save percentage up to .875 and his goals against average down to 0.49. Just last weekend against St. Thomas, Ylonen recorded his 1,000th minute in net for the third straight season. He now ranks third in Gustavus men’s soccer history in career goalkeeper minutes with a total of 4,261:55 during his two-plus year career in a Gustie uniform. Brett sits behind Luke Strom (4,416:25) and Mark Genosky (5,850:00) on the all-time list.
Gustavus’s victory also marked a significant milestone in the coaching tenure of Mike Middleton. In his 15th year as a head coach at the NCAA Division III level, Middleton earned his 200th collegiate victory today at the Gustie Soccer Field. Coaching at Fredonia State (1993-99) and SUNY Cortland (2000-03) before coming to Gustavus in 2010, Middleton is now 200-64-23 in his career. He carries an overall winning percentage of .737 and is 49-11-10 at the helm of the Gustie men’s soccer program, making him the second-winningest coach in Gustavus men’s soccer history.
“I’d like to dedicate my 200th win to this group of players,” added Middleton. “I said at the start of the season that this was a special group, and they proved that handsomely today. I was starting to panic at halftime and told them this was a game we needed to put away. They said in response, ‘Don’t worry coach, we’ve got this.’ The lads then went out, took the game by the scruff of the neck, moved through the gears, and pulled off the victory. I shook all their hands after because this was definitely to be chalked up to them; I was just along for the ride! Two hundred wins in my 15th season as a head coach at this level, but this is one I will always cherish!”
The Gustavus men’s soccer team will have another week’s worth of practice before hitting the pitch once again on Saturday, Oct. 26 when the Gusties host Augsburg College at 1:00 p.m. on the Gustie Soccer Field