Kyle Hewitt advances the ball up the field during St. Scholastica's semi-final match against Martin Luther College. The Saints won 1-0 to advance to the championship. (Cable Photos/Maggie Grob)

Men’s Soccer Crowned Again: Defeats UW-Superior in Thrilling Fashion

Dylan Zimmerman

The College of St. Scholastica men’s soccer team punched its fifth consecutive ticket to the NCAA Tournament this past weekend after defeating the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets in penalty kicks at Saints Field. The initial score after regulation and two overtime periods was 2-2, which meant the only way to break the tie would have to come through a penalty-kick shootout.

The two teams, who have been atop the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) all season long, weren’t strangers to each other. Early in the season the Saints knocked off the Yellowjackets in a conference match to help them earn the undefeated title in regular season conference play. Superior got one back against CSS later in the year, but it didn’t have “conference implications” like that of the first. Nonetheless, both teams had suffered a loss and earned a win against one another, priming the championship showdown to be a good one.

It definitely delivered. With 352 people in attendance and both teams giving it their all, the conference championship was worth every cent people paid to spectate the event. The first half itself was full of action.

The Saints struck first at the 11-minute mark when Shawayne Folkes lofted the ball over the Superior goalkeeper and found the top right corner of the net. It was then Luke Buckton’s turn to be corralled by his teammates, not too long after Folkes’ goal, when he joined the scoring column with a nice shot past the keeper’s right side to make it a quick 2-0 lead for CSS. Folkes and Josh Robak of CSS assisted on Buckton’s goal.

What looked so promising for Scholastica early on started to take a turn for the worse, and it eventually became a defensive struggle in the later parts of the match. There were two back-to-back fouls called on CSS within their own box after Buckton’s goal, which set up UWS for two penalty kicks. The first, which was taken by Daniel Kearns, was wide left and it seemed like the Saints had survived the scare. One minute later, however, Jon Bucklew was fouled and capitalized on his PK to bring the Yellowjackts within one. A St. Scholastica defender was given a red card after arguing the call, which was definitely a questionable one, and left CSS a man down for the remainder of the half.

The one-man difference would prove to cost the Saints another goal in the second half as Bucklew scored for his second time on the day to even up the score at 2-2. The Saints definitely played their hearts out on the defensive side, having to rely on a few defensemen to play the whole match, as well as calling upon the forwards to drop back and play more passively.

Things only got more complicated in the 83rd minute when Buckton was given his second yellow of the match to force another ejection. This left the Saints two men down with seven minutes remaining. Keeper Sandy Davidson-Hunt and company held their ground, however, and CSS earned a much needed five-minute break before the first overtime period began.

There were only seven shots by UWS in the two overtime periods played, with all of them either missing their target or being stopped by Davidson-Hunt. The score still read 2-2 after overtime, which meant two things. The most important thing, of course, was that the match was heading to PK’s. The second thing it meant was that CSS may have just pulled off the impossible by having a chance to win despite the lopsided numbers.

After Davison-Hunt’s spectacular performance in goal, holding off the Yellowjackets continuous attack for four periods of play, it was back-up keeper Corrado Rosato’s time to shine. Rosato, who had been called upon to play the majority of the season due to Davidson-Hunt’s injury, had been phenomenal in the net and was definitely capable of shutting down UWS.

That is exactly what he did. Rosato stopped three of five shot attempts from UWS in the shootout, proving to everyone that there are two keepers on CSS who can get the job done. On the offensive side, Farrar and Folkes scored two quick goals and Ryan Flynn netted the game-winner in the fifth round to propel the Saints to the NCAA Tournament.

The improbable, thrilling victory must be short lived for the Saints as they now look ahead to their opening round match against the St. Thomas Tommies. The match will be held at St. Thomas on Saturday, Nov. 12 with a start time of 11 a.m.