Soccer claims first MIAC battle: first-half blitz leads Oles to comfortable victory

Coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss to non-conference rival Luther College, the St. Olaf men’s soccer team opened MIAC play with a bang on Wednesday, Sept. 18, outscoring Bethel University 4-2 at Rolf Mellby Field. All four goals for the Oles came in the first half.

The Oles opened the scoring early with a header by Mackenzie Lund ’14 in the 4th minute. The forward jumped to meet a pass by Kevin Skrip ’16 and hit it off the right post into the net.

Just three minutes later, Skrip put the Oles up 2-0 when he collected a through ball from David Rosenthal ’14 and converted the one-on-one shot against Bethel goalkeeper AJ Syler ’15. Skrip has been virtually unstoppable thus far, leading the MIAC in goals scored 7 and points 15.

St. Olaf scored again in the 15th minute when Lund found his brother, fellow striker Nick Lund ’15, open to the left of the goal. Lund drove the shot past Syler to give St. Olaf a 3-0 lead.

“We came out with the right attitude and were able to finish the first few chances we created, which was nice,” midfielder Dan Lilly ’15 said.

To their credit, the Royals refused to quit despite the Oles’ early display of dominance. Matthew Pisarski ’15 broke away from the defense and converted a one-on-one against St. Olaf goalkeeper Ben Braman ’17 in the 25th minute.

St. Olaf answered with a final goal one minute before halftime. Aaron Stets ’16 found Stephen Johnson ’14 wide open at the far-post and Johnson put it home to give the Oles a 4-1 advantage.

Bethel played with a greater sense of urgency in the second half, but St. Olaf’s lead was too much for the visiting challengers to overcome. Defensively, the Oles did a solid job of limiting Bethel’s scoring opportunities, outshooting the Royals 15-5.

Bethel scored a second goal in the 55th minute, when pressure from the Royals caused an Ole defender to pass back to goalkeeper Braman. Braman attempted to clear the ball, but Kolten Fischer ’14 blocked his pass. The ball rebounded into the net, ending the scoring at 4-2 in favor of the Oles.

“Overall, it was a good way to start off the conference schedule, although we will have to clean some things up going forward,” Lilly said.

Photo by Madison Vang