Brown’s Header The Difference, Men’s Soccer Shuts Out Carleton 1-0 in MIAC Semifinals

Posted on November 5th, 2014 by

Zach Brown's goal in the 26th minute was all Gustavus needed to come away with a 1-0 victory over Carleton in the MIAC Semifinals on Wednesday in St. Peter.

St. Peter, Minn. – Senior striker Zach Brown (Eau Claire, Wis.) has scored a lot of goals as a member of the Gustavus Adolphus men’s soccer team. So many, in fact, that he ranks third in school history with a total of 47. Head Coach Mike Middleton often describes Zach as one that scores great goals at great times. On Wednesday afternoon in the MIAC Playoff Semifinals, Brown’s 47th may go down as the greatest of them all.

“The real quality moment of the game came with Zach Brown’s goal,” said Mike Middleton. “It was a lovely ball put across the goal by Patrick Roth, and Zach rose head and shoulders above their defense to score at the back post. It was a great goal that was worthy of winning any game. He rose like a salmon – a majestic header.”

Following more than 25 minutes of scoreless and open soccer during which Gustavus controlled the majority of possession, Patrick Roth (So., Stillwater, Minn.) got around a Carleton defender and then shaped a pass to the back post. Brown was stationed there ready to leap up and head home the eventual game-winner. The goal, which came at the 25:32 mark, was Brown’s 11th of the season and league-leading sixth game-winner.

“It was a big win for the lads,” Middleton stated. “Not the prettiest of games, but we battled extremely well against a physical side.  We knew they would pack the midfield, which made it a congested area that was keenly fought over. Carleton threw everything at us – you have to compliment their work-rate and commitment, they certainly gave it everything.  The game turned into a head-to-head, all-out slug-fest with both teams going at it in traditional playoff fashion. So, perhaps not for the connoisseur but exciting all the same!”

The back-and-forth continued throughout the second half. Although Gustavus tallied seven shots compared to Carleton’s one over the course of the final 45 minutes, the Knights’ one shot on goal was a golden opportunity. Fortunately for Gustavus, goalkeeper Brett Ylonen (Sr., Lake Elmo, Minn.) was up to the challenge. With a sprawling save diving to his right, Ylonen was able to turn aside the potential game-tying shot taken by KC Onuoha-Onyekuru at the 77:51 mark.

Eli Bjerk and Stephen Johnson challenge each other in the air.

Eli Bjerk and Stephen Johnson challenge each other in the air.

“Patrick Leach and Elliot Emerson marshaled the defense superbly with Jason Schwab and Sam Leske having excellent games at the back as well,” said Middleton about his club’s defensive effort. “They limited Carleton to one real chance all afternoon, which goalkeeper Brett Ylonen pushed around the post for a corner. Without being disparaging, it was a save I expect him to make. You don’t get to where Brett is today without making those types of saves, and we’ve seen him make them on countless occasions the past four years. Under pressure and in the playoffs, he still needed to be on his mettle. Well done to him.”

Ylonen made a season-high fives saves in what was his third complete-match shutout in four matches. The senior netminder improves to 5-1-0 with the win and now holds a 0.57 goals against average and a .815 save percentage.

Ylonen’s counterpart, Keenan Smith, suffered the loss after giving up the lone goal and making three saves.

Gustavus finished with a 12-6 shots advantage and also had a 5-4 edge in corner kicks.

“I thought Zach Brown really showed his MIAC Player of the Year pedigree in today’s game – what a magnificent goal and what work-rate,” added Middleton about his senior forward.

Middleton was also complimentary of the play of fellow forward Patrick Roth. “Patrick has the ability to succeed Zach to that mantel one day.  He was terrific and their right-back couldn’t handle him – something that really had an effect on the game and eventually resulted in the game-winning goal.”

“Eli Bjerk, Konnor Tranoris, Charlie Adams and Eric Schneider must also be mentioned in dispatches. I’ve never see Eli work that hard – it was inspiring to see,” continued Middleton.  “He covered every blade of grass; he must have run ten miles in today’s game.   Charlie and David were not far behind in those distance stakes either!”

With this afternoon’s victory, Gustavus returns to the MIAC Playoff Championship for the first time since 2012 when it claimed the MIAC’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament with a shootout victory over Carleotn. The Gusties will host Saint John’s University in the championship on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 1:00 p.m. on the Gustie Soccer Field.

“It’s to infinite and beyond for the lads,” concluded Middleton.  “A chance to play in the MIAC final and an opportunity to play at home once again come as a result of today. You don’t want to miss it on Saturday, it should be fun!”

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