Arden Hills, Minn. – With a 4-1 victory over Bethel University on Tuesday afternoon, the Gustavus men’s soccer team clinched the 2013 MIAC Championship outright. Gustavus forward Zach Brown (Jr., Eau Claire, Wis.) scored twice in the first half and added an assist early in the second for a season-high five points on the afternoon.
“Excellent win for the lads today,” said Head Coach Mike Middleton. “We needed the win to confirm the conference title and that inevitably put pressure on us going into the game. It was good to see the team perform with under that pressure and come away scoring four goals.”
At 12-2-1 overall and 9-0-0 in the MIAC, Gustavus leads the conference with 27 points heading into the final match of the 2013 regular season. The Gusties have now won the MIAC title two consecutive years after sharing the conference crown with Carleton last season. It is the Gustavus men’s soccer program’s 14th MIAC Championship and second under Mike Middleton. The Gusties last won back-to-back conference championships in the 2006 and 2007, which were also their third and fourth titles in a row. Carleton was the last team to win two straight, taking the 2011 and 2012 championships.
“It’s a great credit to this group of players who have won the conference title for a second consecutive year,” commented Middleton. “It’s tough to ask for anything better than that and I’m so pleased for all of them. The way the lads have played, they thoroughly deserved it. I’ve said since the start of the season, this is a special group.”
With more than half of the opening 45 minutes in the books and the score knotted at 0-0, Gustavus struck first with a goal at the 26:52 mark. Jonathan Balthazar (Fr., Evanstron, Ill.) connected with Zach Brown off a corner kick for the match’s opening goal.
“Jonathan Balthazar put in a lovely left-footed in-swinger off the corner, and top goal-scorer Zach Brown rose majestically above his marker to bury a bullet header past the goalkeeper. I cannot remember seeing a better header for quite some time,” said Middleton about Brown’s first goal.
Less than ten minutes following his first goal, Brown scored his 10th goal of the season off an assist from Konnnor Tranoris (So., Des Moines, Iowa) at the 35:51 mark.
“Konnor Tranois left his marker to receive the ball, and Zach anticipated the pass with an early movement across the defender,” described Middleton. “A delightful ball inside the fullback set him clear of the defense, and he drove the ball with his instep past the flailing goalkeeper. It was a very nice goal indeed and a great forward play.”
With a 2-0 lead coming out of the halftime break, Gustavus wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the second half. Just :52 seconds into the half, David Lilly (Jr., Maple Grove, Minn.) scored his third goal of the season to give Gustavus a 3-0 advantage. Providing the assist on the play was Zach Brown, who has benefited from a Lilly assist on four of his goals this season.
“Following some excellent inter-play in and around the box , Zach set David Lilly free with a reverse pass behind the defense. He shot low and hard, beating the ‘keeper for pace,” stated Middleton about Lilly’s goal.
After 79:30 minutes between the posts, Middleton replaced starting goalkeeper Brett Ylonen (Jr., Lake Elmo, Minn.) with Braden Schmid (Jr., West Fargo, N.D.). Ylonen made a total of three saves and did not allow a goal for his fourth straight outing. He improved to 12-2-1 with the win, and has played 349:30 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.
After Bethel’s Jeremy Tan scored a late goal at the 86:17 mark to bring the score to 3-1, Gustavus answered with a goal just over a minute later to bring the match to a final at 4-1. Konnor Tranoris scored the goal and was assisted by Ryan Schultz (Fr., Delafield, Wis.).
“A defensive error let them in to make it 3-1 after we were caught a little cold,” Middleton said. “But to the lads credit, they went up the park and Ryan Schulz swung a beautiful shaped ball across the goal for Konnor Tranoris, who beat the ‘keeper with a very calm and composed finish. That was top-class and a great response.”
Gustavus outshot the Royals 12-9 and had a 10-4 advantage in corner kicks. Bethel goalkeeper Chris Scott went all 90 minutes and made five saves.
The Gustavus men’s soccer team will cap the 2013 regular season on Saturday, Nov. 2 with a home match against Hamline University. The Gusties and Pipers will square off at 1:00 p.m. on Gustie Soccer Field.
“We have one more regular season game to play at home on Saturday and it will also be an occasion to say thanks to our seniors Sean Sendelbach, Zach Schmith, and Casey Gilbert, and their parents,” remarked Middleton about Saturday’s finale. “This group is so special that we need to keep this going as long as we can. I just cannot imagine those three not on our squad, winning games, and, of course, causing mayhem at practice!”
– Brown has now scored 10 or more goals in each of his three years at Gustavus, becoming the first Gustie to post double-figure goals in three consecutive seasons since Larry Shelhamer did so from 1973 to 1975. The Eau Claire, Wis. native also reached a pair of significant milestones with his performance this afternoon in Arden Hills. With five points on two goals and an assist today against the Royals, Brown moved into sole possession of fifth place on Gustavus’s all-time career scorers list. He now has a total of 83 points (36G, 11A) in 53 matches, moving ahead of Scott Stoneking `96 and Bobby Kroog `06 who both registered 80 points over their careers. Brown’s two goals were his 35th and 36th of his career, moving him into a tie for fifth place on the all-time goal-scorers list along side Bobby Kroog.
– With over 79 minutes played in goal this afternoon against Bethel, junior goalkeeper Brett Ylonen moved into second place on Gustavus’s all-time goalkeeper minutes played list. Ylonen, who has now played in 4,431:25 career minutes, jumped ahead of Luke Strom `11 who totaled 4,416:25 minutes over his four year career. Mark Genosky `93 holds the school record for goalkeeper minutes with 5,850.
– The Gustauvs men’s soccer team is 9-0-0 in the MIAC for just the second time in program history. Since the inception of MIAC men’s soccer in 1968, just one Gustavus team before this season has come out of its first nine league games with an unblemished record. Gustavus’s 1970 team is the only squad in history of the program to win the first nine games of their MIAC schedule. The 1970 Gusties went a perfect 10-0-0 in league play – the only team in school history to do so – on the way to the school’s second MIAC title.