Men’s Soccer Falls to UWS in UMAC Championship Match

Andrew Naslund
anaslund@css.edu

The College of St. Scholastica men’s soccer team fell just short in their UMAC championship match last Saturday, losing to their foe across the bridge in University of Wisconsin-Superior by a score of 4-2 in shootout fashion. While the final result was not what the Saints were hoping for, the fans at Public Schools Stadium witnessed a fierce competition and an amazing match that would ultimately end in penalty kicks.

The Saints came out ready to put some bees in their place in the beginning of the game, consistently keeping the offensive pressure on the Yellowjackets with 10 shots in the first half, compared to five shots from UWS. Four of Superior’s five shots were on goal, but they were all taken care of by the Saints’ senior goalie Sandy Davidson-Hunt. Just before halftime, in minute 39, with the help from Logan Kittleson, CSS freshman, Juan Ochoa, managed to find the back of the net to give the Saints a 1-0 lead. While many might think the pressure of a conference championship game would be overwhelming, the freshman from Chihuahua, Mexico, found it to be thrilling.

“It was an amazing experience,” Juan Ochoa said. “You can just feel the atmosphere around the game and the pressure it generates.”

The score would remain 1-0 leading into the break. Heading into the second half, the Yellowjackets desperately looked for their first goal to tie things up, while the Saints just needed to hold on to their one-goal lead. In minute 78, the entire Saints nation’s heart skipped a beat as UWS caught the Saints’ goalie out of position and managed to get a shot on goal, but CSS forward Sam Brickley and his head got in the way, preserving the Saints’ lead.

With just nine minutes left of regular time, the Yellowjackets finally found their equalizing goal, as a collision between a CSS defender and a UWS attacker led to a successful penalty shot for UWS. The score was all tied up at one, and it would remain that way through regulation. During the two 10-minute overtimes, little action would be had, leading to a UMAC championship shootout for the second straight year.

In last year’s UMAC championship game, the Saints defeated the Yellowjackets in a shootout to become conference champions and advance to the national tournament. The stage was now eerily set for the Saints to do the exact same this year, but the ball just did not bounce the same way on Saturday night.

The Yellowjackets jumped out to a lead in the first round of kicks, but Jacob Carson would tie it up for the Saints in the second round. The third round featured two successful kicks for both teams, and it looked to be anyone’s match with two rounds left. UWS, however, converted successfully in their fourth kick, and then blocked the Saints’ attempt at tying it up. The hopes of Scholatica’s season would rest on the toe of Leonardo Peters from UWS, who finished it off with a successful fifth round kick, giving the Yellowjackets the UMAC title.

While the future still looks bright for the Saints, it was a very tough way for their season to end. They will now have to go on without their goalkeeper from Kenora, Ontario, Davidson-Hunt, and their defender from Fairbanks, Alaska, Carson, both of whom had a profound effect on their program and will leave it in a good place.

“This program has allowed me to play the game I love with coaches and teammates that were just as passionate as myself, which is something I will be forever grateful for,” Carson said. “It feels really great knowing that Sandy and I are leaving the team in great hands going forward, and I can’t wait to hear of their successes to come.”

On the year, the Saints finished with a record of 14-6-1, which included their eighth consecutive UMAC regular season title.