The Oles faced 12th-ranked Loras last Saturday during a short trip to Iowa for two non-conference games. The teams battled for nearly 90 minutes until Loras' Matt Pucci scored off a redirected free kick just before the game was to reach overtime. Goalkeeper Kevin Friede '09 had four saves in the loss. The Oles managed 11 shots and hung with their highly-regarded opponents all game.
"We went into the game expecting to play well but not necessarily to win," said midfielder Mike Peabody, who walked last year with the class of 2007 but is fulfilling his final year of athletic eligibility. "We should go into every game expecting to win."
The next day, easier competition awaited the Oles in Cedar Rapids, as the Oles overwhelmed Coe College 5-0. Nathan Langholz '08 and John Zietlow '11 each notched two goals. Zietlow leads the team with eight goals and 21 points. Barrett Kennedy '09 also scored in the easy victory. Goalie Alex Kuehl '11, not usually a starter, registered a shutout in his first varsity game.
After the tune-up, the Oles returned to MIAC play against Bethel. At 3-2, the Oles stood poised to contend for a playoff spot down the stretch. Kennedy's goal in the first half against the Royals stood up for the remainder of the match. Friede notched his third shutout of the season in goal.
The top four teams in the MIAC qualify for the playoffs. Though several games and tough opponents remain on the schedule, the Oles find themselves in a positive position following their recent strong stretch.
"As long as we take it one game at a time we should be able to make a nice little run," Peabody said. "You can lose to any team in the conference, and you can beat any team in the conference. Guys just need to stay focused."