Unfortunately, non-conference opponents have kicked the Oles around so far this season, bringing their overall record to one game over .500 despite the impressive in-conference start.
Teams from outside the MIAC had gone 4-0-2 against the footballers from Manitou Heights heading into a showdown with regionally ranked Simpson College.
With the scheduling gods not helping the Oles, the team took matters into their own hands. Rising to the occasion, the squad finally got the non-conference monkey off their back by posting a 2-0 victory over the vaunted Storm. The Ole offense launched 14 shots while Simpson could only muster five.
This dominant performance was a true testament to their aggressive offense and stifling defense.
The win wrapped up a four-game homestand in which the Oles won three of those contests. The squad took care of middle-of-the-road St. Thomas 3-1 before blanking perennial conference bottom-dweller Bethel 4-0.
Their only loss came to Colorado College, who is currently ranked number six in the West Region of the Division III national poll.
The lengthy stay at home was no doubt welcome after the team went just 2-3-1 while playing away from the Soccer Bowl. For the next three games the team returns to the road for a trio of crucial MIAC match-ups.
The Oles will travel to St. Paul Friday for a showdown under the lights as they butt horns with 5-0 Macalester. The Scots are fresh off winning their 200th game under the direction of 17-year head coach John Leaney and are anxious to prove that their number seven ranking in the preseason Division III poll is not undeserved.
In recent weeks Macalester has dropped out of the national top 25 and currently clings to the number nine spot in the Division III West Regional rankings.
The match should prove pivotal, as the winner will have the upper hand in the race for the MIAC crown. In fact, the Oles can take over the conference lead by defeating the daunting Scots assemblage.
The Oles will wrap up the three-game road trip with tough conference matches against Hamline and St. Johns before returning home to host Wheaton College. The Thunder will give up their Bon Appétit prepared meals and make the six-hour jaunt from suburban Chicago for the second straight year.
The road to the MIAC title will not be an easy one for the mens soccer team, but at least they are in control of their own future and will play a large role in determining which team will wear the crown come early November.