The St. Thomas men’s soccer fans braved the chilly 47 degree temperature to cheer on the team and its seniors in the last regular season home game Tuesday against the Carleton Knights.
The Tommies ended its five game home-winning streak after falling to Carleton 2-1 in the 92nd minute. This marked the team’s second game in a row that was decided in overtime play, and the third year in a row this MIAC match up has been settled by one goal.
Although the loss will keep St. Thomas out of the playoffs, coach Aaron Macke was proud of his team’s performance against the MIAC powerhouse.
“They’re a team that controls the game against most of their opponents and that didn’t happen today,” Macke said. “I think we actually controlled the tempo of the game and played it the way we wanted to play it. I’m very proud of that.”
The Tommies and the Knights played an evenly-matched first half with St.Thomas taking five shots on goal in the first 32 minutes of the game compared to Carleton’s four.
Carleton kicked it into gear in the last eight minutes when Knights’ freshman Nathan Park recorded his first goal of the year with 5:55 left in the half. St. Thomas sophomore goalkeeper Jace Leiferman made three saves prior to Park’s goal.
The score remained 1-0 at the end of the first half.
St. Thomas came back recharged at the beginning of the second half, keeping the ball in Carleton’s end. The Tommies had six corner kicks in the second half alone and eight overall. Macke attributes this high number to his players’ aggressive style of play.
“(It) shows that we were getting the ball forward and shows we had lots of chances,” Macke said. “We had more corners, more shots on goal, but at the end of the day, the ball has to go into the net.”
Carleton had eight fouls in the second half, and St. Thomas senior forward Mike Hutton took a key penalty kick in the 76th minute of play. Although Carleton’s sophomore goalkeeper James Neher originally blocked Hutton’s shot, the ball rolled away and Hutton darted toward the goal to shoot again, but Neher pounced on the loose ball.
“After that I just tried to get as much energy as I could to try and get back into the game,” Hutton said.
Hutton responded with his 35th career goal around two minutes later making the score 1-1.
The teams held each other off for the rest of the half as the game went into overtime.
Carleton came out strong with a shot on goal that missed wide in the first 26 seconds. Knights’ sophomore Will Corcoran ended the game in 92nd minute with his fourth goal of the season.
“There’s not a lot to say about it,” Leiferman said. “It was a good pass, and he was wide open and he did what he was supposed to do.”
The Tommies head to Bethel Saturday for their last game of the season. The Royals are on a two-game winning streak shutting out both Carleton and St. Olaf this week.
Macke said he hopes to see Saturday’s game as a celebration of a successful season as well as a send off to this year’s seniors Hutton, Angel Reira, Alex Daley and Patrick Trembley.
“We’re not in a position to make the playoffs anymore, so now you go out on Saturday for the last game of the year, and you celebrate your time together as a team,” Macke said. “We’ve been together three months now, and we have to go out there and enjoy it and try and end this season on a real good note.”
Briggs LeSavage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org