Mens soccer clinches playoff spot: Mackenzie Lunds late goal enough to overcome St. Thomas

The St. Olaf men’s soccer team took to Rolf Mellby Field on Oct. 26 looking for a win against the University of St. Thomas to clinch a MIAC playoff berth. The game seemed destined to head into overtime after a string of opportunities passed by the Oles. However, a stunning 88th minute strike by Mackenzie Lund ’14 gave St. Olaf a 1-0 victory heading into the final week of the MIAC regular season.

The first-half of the game saw limited opportunities for either team, with St. Olaf holding a slight 5-2 advantage in shots. The best chance in the first period went to Aaron Stets ’16, who went around the Tommies on the left edge with his speed. Stets attempted to beat the keeper at the near post, but his shot flew well high of the goal. Phumelela Sukatu ’15 almost scored with an opportunist effort in the 42nd minute when his cross beat everyone, but the ball rattled into the post before flying to safety.

The Oles asserted their dominance in the second-half, relentlessly attacking the St. Thomas net time and time again. The trio of David Rosenthal ’14, Torbjorn Morkeberg ’15 and Lund all had opportunties to open the scoring, but replacement goalkeeper Grant Larson ’17 kept the Tommies in the game.

In the dying moments of the game, Lund took it upon himself to break the deadlock. Receiving the ball just inside the attacking half, Lund made a long run across the field before sending a strike from the top of the box back across the goal, giving Larson no chance to save the shot.

Lund’s game-breaking goal is the third winner he has produced this season. Lund extends his tally to seven goals while also registering six assists.

This pivotal win sees St. Olaf tied for second place in the MIAC with cross-town rival Carleton College. The Oles will host Carleton for the final regular season game on Nov. 2 at Rolf Mellby Field.

The recent history between the Carleton and St. Olaf teams promises to add extra spark to the battle. In the 2011 season, St. Olaf came from behind to beat Carleton in the MIAC playoff final 3-2. However, Carleton repaid the favor in 2012, winning 1-0 to end St. Olaf’s post-season hopes.

The key to St. Olaf’s chances on Nov. 2 will be to shut down Carleton striker Branden McGarrity ’16, who has carried on the form that saw him lead the MIAC in goals in the 2012 season. McGarrity has been named the MIAC soccer player of the week for the past two consecutive weeks. The Oles will be hoping to see a repeat of their resolute defense that limited St. Thomas to a mere three shots.

St. Olaf now stands at 6-2-1 in the MIAC and holds a 13-3-1 record overall. A win against Carleton would ensure a second place finish in the conference that would guarantee a home elimation final on Nov. 6.