Gustavus ran away with their 17th consecutive, and 40th overall, title with a 9-0 thrashing of Carleton in the final. The Oles fell to Concordia 7-2 in the fifth-place match, garnering sixth.
Despite defending their sixth-place conference seeding at the MIAC tournament, consistency has been anything but a given for the Oles this spring.
We had a good year considering how young we were, team captain Mike Matsuura 06 said. It was an up and down year, but thats what happens with a young lineup the consistency isnt always there.
When all players were healthy, the team started four first years, two sophomores and Matsuura as the lone upperclassmen.
We lost a couple of matches we probably shouldnt have, but you cant blame that all on youth, Matsuura said. We also had a few matches where we played better than expected. Consistency will be something that improves next year with everyone coming back.
The tournament started Friday for the Oles in a quarterfinal showdown with St. Thomas. The Tommies beat the Oles 8-1 March 12 and picked up right where they left off, rolling to a 9-0 victory.
The men awoke early Saturday morning for an 8 a.m. matchup with St. Marys. The Cardinals finished the regular season tied for sixth with the Oles, but came into the conference tournament seeded seventh thanks to a 5-4 St. Olaf win Feb. 25.
Things would again come down to the wire against the Cardinals with a familiar scene unfolding.
St. Marys took number one and number three doubles and the top two singles matches. Matsuura and Chase Donaldson 07 teamed up to prevent a potentially fatal St. Marys double sweep, earning an 8-5 win. The Oles responded by claiming the number four, five and six singles matches, leaving the number three contest as the deciding point, the same scenario as in February, in which Matsuura came through in a super-breaker to procure the Ole win.
Saturday, Matsuura dropped the first set of the deciding match, but rebounded to force the super-breaker.
I wasnt aware that the score was tied, but I knew everyone was done and it was going to be close, Matsuura said about the in-game tension. I didnt want to let the team down; its important not to go 0-3 at the conference tournament.
Just as he had in February, Matsuura took control early in the super-breaker, winning the race to 10 points handily, 10-5.
The win allowed the Oles a chance to finish fifth, thus winning the consolation side of the bracket, but Concordia won five of the six singles matches to seal the deal en route to a 7-2 win Saturday. Matsuura and Donaldson registered the only doubles win and Ryan Pederson 08 won at number one singles.
With a sixth-place finish in hand, Matsuura and the mens team are optimistic about next season.
We did about what we expected and look forward to next year, Matsuura said. We can makes some strides and to have a chance to do something good.