Men’s soccer looks toward MIAC playoffs

For many decades, St. Olaf College has boasted a soccer program to rival all other MIAC teams. With six conference championships and six NCAA Tournament berths in the past 30 years, including an appearance in the Sweet 16 in 2015, St. Olaf has been a consistent top performer in an incredibly tough conference. This year looks to be no different.

The team had a rough start to the season, losing three games after an opening-day win against Martin Luther College at home. All of their losses were decided by just one goal.

However, in the past two weeks the soccer team has turned the season around in an impressive fashion, taking down Bethel University 2-0 on the road and swamping Saint Mary’s University 4-1 at home on the newly renovated turf field.

St. Olaf stands strongly in the conference standings at fourth in the MIAC, with an impressive 6-3 goal difference within the conference.

Much of the team’s success can be attributed to a trio of sophomore starters who have combined for seven goals and two assists over eight games. Will Douglas ’21, leads the team with three goals over seven games played. Farid Sani ’21 and Thierno Gueye ’21 have two goals each, with Sani adding an assist to his record as well.

Senior goalkeeper Ben Westermeyer ’19  is the team captain for the Oles this season. He currently leads the conference with 51 saves.

“As a goalkeeper, a large part of my role is to be a vocal leader for the team on the field,” Westermeyer said. “Now, this year as a team captain, I have taken more of a leading role off the field as well.”

This is one of the most exciting soccer teams in recent memory, with the energy brought to the field by Douglas, Sani and Gueye, and fellow sophomore Olaf Morkeberg ’19, who leads the team with two assists.

“Our defense needs some shoring up, but this team has been finding the net a lot more this year – something we struggled with last season,” Westermeyer said. “There is no limit to what this team can accomplish. Our goal is to make the MIAC playoffs, which we believe we can do. Teams that are successful in the MIAC always go deep in the NCAA tournament. I think we have the talent and drive to make it far.”

The team lost to Gustavus Adolphus 0-1 on Tuesday night, but is looking to bounce back at home against Hamline on Saturday. Coach Ken Anderson will be looking to notch his 300th win with the team, adding to his already historic record with St. Olaf.

Macalester and Hamline sit right below St. Olaf in the conference standings, so these next two games are crucial for the team’s success this season.

If you want to watch high-level, exciting soccer, check out the soccer team on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Rolf Melby Field.