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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Men's season ends with loss to Loras after Grinnell win

By Matt Day

Macalester was no stranger to playing the underdog this year. The Scots defeated ranked teams three times over the course of the regular season, and upended top-seeded Carleton in the conference playoff final.They needed all of that experience to stay with nationally ranked No. 7 Loras.

Macalester held the Duhawks scoreless for the first half of Sunday’s NCAA second round playoff game, but were beaten twice on corner kicks in the second half. The 2-0 loss in Dubuque, Iowa, ended Macalester’s season.

The Duhawks (20-2-1) will face Dominican (Ill.) tomorrow in the round of 16.

Macalester (13-8-1) had opportunities against the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions, including a second-half shot by Reid Usedom ’12 that would have given the Scots the lead but hit the crossbar.

“We had three or four of the best chances,” coach Ian Barker said.

The Scots made strong attacking runs to open each half, with Ryan Marshall ’12 and Carson Gorecki ’09 creating scoring opportunities.

Jesse Geary ’12 was a threat with the same left-footed long balls that he excelled at sending forward all season. Geary, a defender, led the team in assists with five.

But Macalester couldn’t overcome the Loras advantage in time of possession. The Duhawks kept the ball for most of the game, regularly connecting on long crosses to supplement their sharp, short passing game.

“After losing big to Loras early in the season, we knew that the next game would really have to take something special,” Scott Petesch ’10 said.

The Scots lost at Loras 4-0 Sept. 13. But that was before the team came together in the second half of the season, rattling off six straight wins to win the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

“We came out really hard and I think we shocked them in the first half,” Petesch said. “The work that each person on the field put in for the rest of the team was fantastic.”

Macalester’s defense frustrated the Duhawks, at times pressuring aggressively at midfield. Other times the Scots packed nine players behind the ball in their own third.

“We were playing out of our minds,” Gorecki said. “We would stop them and counterattack.”

“If we’d put one away who knows what would have happened. They were worried on the field.”

The loss came a day after the Scots defeated Grinnell, 2-0, in the first round.

Both goals were Gorecki’s, giving him 27 for his career. He is seventh on the Macalester all-time list.

“I hate to leave it behind,” Gorecki said. The three-time all-MIAC forward sat out in 2008 after breaking his foot and decided not to graduate with his class to return for another year.

“It was a great part of my life,” he said. “The guys, the fans, the experience. I have no regrets that I stayed behind.”

The trip to the NCAA tournament was Gorecki’s second, his first coming as a freshman on the MIAC champion squad of 2005.

It was the first postseason experience for the senior class.

“The Iowa trip was great,” Petesch said. “For all of us but Carson it was our first taste of the NCAA playoffs.”

Petesch was a fixture in the midfield since his sophomore year. He led the team in goals in 2008, but saved his first of this season for the MIAC tournament championship game. His shot 61 minutes in was the difference against Carleton in the game that sent the Scots to the NCAAs.

“The fact that it’s over for me is only just now beginning to sink in,” Petesch said. “Over the past four years I’ve spent countless hours with the Mac soccer team and I still feel, at this point, like it wasn’t enough. That says something.”

So does the trophy that is on its way to the Leonard Center.

“Winning seven out of eight was an amazingly resilient performance by the program,” Barker said. “I can’t speak more highly of the team.

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