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ISSUE 121 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/9/2007

Gusties finally halt soccer's playoff run

By Matt Tiano
Executive Editor

Friday, November 9, 2007

The saying is true: "All good things come to an end."

The St. Olaf men's soccer team played victim to this expression as Gustavus upended the Cinderella Oles in the MIAC tournament final on Saturday, 2-0. St. Olaf couldn't be the spoiler two times in one week - the Oles ruined Carleton's postseason hopes with a 1-0 road win Wednesday in the semifinals - and finished 11-9-0, failing to advance to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Gustavus, conversely, advanced to their second-straight tournament, thanks to Bret Vander Streek's goal early in the second half and Mike Butterworth's clincher in the 78th minute. To come from behind against the 16-3-1 Gusties is difficult, suggested by their 16-0-0 record when scoring first.

Goalkeeper Kevin Friede '09 had three saves in the match. Generating scoring chances in the Oles' attacking third was a challenge all afternoon, a testament to the Gusties' poised, team-oriented defense in the back. John Zietlow '11 and Barrett Kennedy '09 fired the only two St. Olaf shots.

"We did create some key [offensive] opportunities for ourselves, but their defense seemed at ease throughout the game," Zietlow said. "I thought we played with them pretty well, but we didn't make the most of our opportunities."

The Oles simply ran into a more physical, deeper and experienced group, one that could potentially make a deep run into the tournament.

"Experience played a huge part in this game because most of the St. Olaf players had never been to the playoff championship before," Zietlow said.

On the other side of the field, Gustavus entered the MIAC playoff final for the third consecutive year.

Next year's edition of the Oles will be missing 10 seniors, though only a few saw significant action this season. Eight of the 11 players who started against Gustavus and three of the five reserves will return to the field.

Key returners will include starting goalkeeper Friede, as well as the team's top three scorers. John Zietlow '11 led the team in goals, assists and points. He will be rejoined by second- and third-leading scorers Nate Swenson '10 and Scott Crider '10. Ryan Doyle '09 and Erik Van Mechelen '10 will return to anchor the Oles' defense.

"It's phenomenal that we have so many returning starters and depth next year," Zietlow said. "However, the MIAC is a very competitive conference ... so we're going to have to work to return to the finals."

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