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ISSUE 118 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/5/2004

Bittersweet playoff: Scots upset men in first match

By Joel Stjernholm
Sports Editor

Friday, November 5, 2004

Despite turning in their strongest performance in years by capturing a share of the MIAC conference championship, the second-seeded St. Olaf mens soccer team fell to third-ranked Macalester 2-0 Tuesday in the first round of the MIAC playoffs. The loss was a difficult end to a spectacular season in which the men captured their first conference title since 1998.

Surprisingly, the Scots offense overpowered St. Olafs defense, one of the MIACs stingiest crews during the regular season. Head coach Kurt Anderson had introduced a new defensive scheme that was exceptionally effective throughout this season for the Oles. Additionally, the Ole defense boasts some of the best players at their position in the conference. In spite of their regular season strategy and athletic prowess, the defense could not withstand a powerful Macalester offensive surge.

Accustomed to scoring at least two or three goals per match, St. Olafs offense had not been shut out by a conference opponent since their early-September meeting with conference co-champion Gustavus. Though they had experienced offensive difficulties in a recent California trip, the team expected to fare well offensively upon their return to Minnesota.

Despite an overall successful regular season, the Oles had endured a late-season slide going into their playoff match against Macalester. St. Olaf went 2-2 in their last four games, but scored only two goals in those matches. Goalkeeper Kyle Trimble 05 was instrumental in keeping the Oles afloat, collecting two shutouts against Augsburg and Carleton. For his efforts, Trimble was named the MIAC soccer player of the week.

However, coach Anderson and next years returning players have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. This years championship team is relatively young, as 20 first years and sophomores are listed on the squads roster. The teams success this year in light of its youth is not only a strong reflection on Andersons recruiting practices, but also a good indicator that the team will be successful in future seasons. Young, successful teams not only enjoy continuity but also tend to build strong relationships and camaraderie, a very important dynamic of every collegiate team.

At the moment, however, the Oles are satisfied with moving into the off-season to recover from a challenging season. But make no mistake, with youth, talent, solid leadership and exceptional coaching, the Oles are no flash in the pan: Theyll be back in 2005.

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