2021 Men’s Soccer Season Preview

Posted on August 31st, 2021 by

2021 Gustavus men's soccer (photo courtesy of SPX Sports)

SAINT PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus men’s soccer team begins its 2021 campaign Wednesday when it travels to Wartburg for a 3 p.m. contest. After a nearly two-year hiatus from typical season play, the Gusties posted an unblemished spring season – mainly consisting of exhibition matches – after winning the MIAC regular season titles and back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019. The team enters ranked 25th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll.

“We had a productive spring when we got to play,” Head Coach Tudor Flintham said. “We had an incredible amount of momentum coming out of 2019 and a little bit of that was stalled. I also think in every one of these years, 2018, the guys left, they won a championship and they left feeling unfulfilled in 2019. We tied the program record for wins and won a game at the NCAA tournament, but we could have won more games, we left something on the table. The team is acutely aware of the legacy here and is really proud to be part of the state of soccer, but they want to write their own chapter. They want to do something truly special.”

Flintham has begun his fourth season at the helm of the program and looks to build off the 2019 season’s success and is looking forward to debuting talent from the skill-building 2021 spring season. 

“Our sophomore class was unique in the sense that they essentially got a redshirt year where they got to play games and got to practice, making them the most prepared class we’ve ever had,” Flintham said. “And it helps that they’re also really, really talented. So we’re excited about that group and we’ve added a couple of guys in this true freshman class that are pretty special as well. I think that everyone can look out for a few surprises with our younger players.”

The Gusties return seven starters that tied the program record with an 18-3-1 overall finish and a 9-1-0 mark in the conference in 2019. Leading the charge is First Team All-American Cole Schwartz (Sr., Jakarta, Indonesia) who signed his name in the Gustavus record books. He totaled 24 goals and seven assists for 55 points, making him the fifth player in conference history to score at least 50 points in a season, and were the most of any conference player since 1975. Schwartz was also prominent on the national leaderboards, with his 24 goals being the fourth most in the nation. The Jakarta native also had 23 points during the conference season for the Gusties, the most for any MIAC player since Kimani Williams of Macalester put up 33 in 2001.

Joining him in the starting lineup as a 2019 All-American is Matt Gibbons (Sr., Minneapolis, Minn.). Gibbons led the conference in the assists in his junior campaign with 17, while also adding eight goals. The midfielder averaged 0.78 assists per contest, which was the fifth most in the nation. The Minneapolis native played an integral role in the team’s NCAA tournament run, dishing out three assists in a pair of games for the Gusties. The 30 total points for Gibbons were the fourth most in the MIAC and the most of any midfielder to earn him his second consecutive All-Region nod.  

Raphael Cattelin (Jr., Edina) earned All-Conference and All-Region honors in his first collegiate season, finishing second in the MIAC in scoring with 49 points. He finished the 2019 season with 17 goals and 15 assists, with his assists and total points both being the fifth most in the nation. The Edina native led the Gusties with seven game-winning goals, including three-straight in the team’s final two regular season contests and their first-round playoff matchup with Saint John’s.

Standout returner Trace Dobson (Sr. Sioux Falls, S.D.) finished his junior campaign by earning the MIAC Elite 22 Award. The award honors an individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the conference championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. Dobson, a Public Accounting major with a 4.00 GPA, played in every contest. The midfielder played a big role in one of the biggest wins of the season for Gustavus, scoring the game-winner in the team’s victory over St. Thomas on Sept. 18, the Tommies’ only conference loss of the season. In his 22 games, Dobson scored a pair of goals, as well as an assist, and was a key contributor in the team’s MIAC Championship and second round NCAA tournament appearance.

Finding strength in net, Wesley Sanders (Jr., Urbandale, Iowa) dominated in MIAC goalkeeping. The rising junior earned a First Team All-Region spot in his rookie campaign. Sanders started every game in net for Gustavus, posting an 18-4-0 record, with his win in the NCAA opening round over Colorado College he set the new school record for most goalie wins in a season with 18. Sanders saved 71 shots while allowing 22 goals for a save percentage of .763. He had five complete game shutouts to lead the conference, while he played a large portion of three other shutouts for the Golden Gusties.

Despite coming off of back-to-back championships, the team continues to stay grounded and humble as they prepare for the season opener. 

“We actually talk about a lot. And our definition of humility is not the lack of confidence, lack of swagger, because we have plenty of that,” Flintham said. It’s the recognition that you’re not the finished product. After every one our wins, we have a conversation and the guys can probably repeat it verbatim of, you know, ‘Don’t trip on a pebble because you’re looking at the finish line, stay humble, you’re not as good as you could be tomorrow.’”

The Gusties, who made the NCAA tournament from 2012-2014 before a three-year drought, have their sights set on staying at the top but they realize there is stiff competition in the way.

“Wartburg has always been a tough team, and we’re looking forward to facing off against Colorado shortly after.” 

The Gustavus men’s soccer team plays its season opener at Wartburg on Wednesday Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. 

2021 Men’s Soccer Roster

2021 Men’s Soccer Schedule

 

Leave a Reply