The Student News Site of Macalester College

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 soccer look to defend No. 7 rank vs. Neb.-Wesleyan

By Patrick Murphy

Drink blood! The first Friday night of the school year promises plenty of parties to kick the year off in style.

“Smoke crack!”

But even the mightiest of parties on Friday night will only be after-parties.

“Worship Satan!”

The real party isn’t in a cramped dorm room or a nasty basement.

“Go Mac!”

The real party starts at 4:30, and it’s being thrown in the stadium courtesy of the Macalester men’s soccer team.

Nowhere does Mac’s diversity come together more beautifully than in the stands at soccer games. It’s the one place that students of all creeds, colors and levels of hipsterdom come together to support a common cause.Indeed, Mac pride is on full display in all of its nerdy, socially awkward glory at home soccer games.

What, you may be wondering, could make this grand stage of a home game on the first Friday night of the school year even bigger? How about the fact that your Macalester Scots are one of the best teams in the entire country? An NCAA Division III poll released on Tuesday ranked Macalester as the No. 7 team in the country, and the top team in the Northern Region.

Tonight’s game is guaranteed to be the biggest social event of the weekend. And if you’re not much for being social, you should go just to watch the goal celebration dances. Every player dreams about scoring in front of the home crowd, and they make the most of it when they do. While each player has his unique way of celebrating, some standout more than others. The most storied and mysterious celebration dance belongs to forward Jeremy Carp ’12. His dance known as the “CarpTacticT” was described by a teammate who requested to not be identified as, “primal and glorious.”

But before you round up your crew of flunkies and run to the game, you need some background on the team. So, enjoy your delicious Café Mac lunch while you become an expert on the Mac men’s soccer team.

The team got off to a slow start on the 2009 campaign before catching fire at the end of the year – rattling off six straight victories to capture the MIAC playoff championship. With the MIAC playoff crown, our boys earned an automatic bid to the NCAA national playoffs. One of the hottest teams going into the tournament, the Scots traveled to Iowa to take on the other top teams from the Northern Region. The squad stayed hot in opening round play, taking down Grinnell 2-0, but fell to top-seeded Loras College 0-2 in the second round, bringing the season to an end.

A MIAC playoff championship and national tournament appearance certainly made 2009 a successful season. However, after getting a taste of the big time on the national level, the team was left hungry for more over the long offseason.

“It was during our win streak at the end of last year that we realized what we could do as a team and when we finally realized how to play together,” said team captain and central defender Nate Juergens ’11. “In the offseason we all saw the potential of what we could be this season with some hard work and organization, so there was definitely a lot of excitement and anticipation.”

The hard work that Juergens alluded to came in the form of long hours in the Leonard Center throughout the offseason.

“We’re very fortunate to have a great speed and strength training coach in Steve Murray,” defender Andrew Lund ’12 said. “He puts together workouts that combine weightlifting and speed and agility training for the team to follow during the offseason.”

The team opened this season in Duluth against St. Scholastica. After a hard fought game, Mac emerged victorious 1-0 in overtime. Two days later, the Scots celebrated their home opener in style, punishing Northwestern 5-0.

The team certainly looked like it was firing on all cylinders through the first two games of the year, but an early season test in the third game of the season awaited the Scots in the form of the 2009 heartbreaker Loras DuHawks.

The teams met at Macalester Stadium last Sunday. Macalester fans packed the stands, and the Scots came out attacking. However, the game remained tied 0-0 at the half, with neither side able to break through. However, a chance developed in the 65th minute off of a Loras turnover. Midfielder Jesse Geary ’12 gained possession and played the ball forward into space for fellow midfielder Erik Johnson ’11. Johnson worked the ball up the left sideline as the Loras defense retreated. As Johnson dribbled toward the corner, midfielder Stephen Murphy-Logue ’11, better known as “Moose” streaked up the middle of the field. Without a hint of hesitation, Johnson fired the ball over the Loras defenders. Flying through the air, Murphy-Logue got his head on the ball, and put it home in the back of the Loras goal as the net-minder could only stand and watch.

“Scoring against Loras was definitely one of the best moments of my Macalester career to date,” said Murphy-Logue, who was quick to credit Geary and Johnson for the setup. “EJ played a perfect ball, and luckily for me, the ball found my head and ended up in the back of the net.”

The goal proved to be decisive, as the Scots held off their nemesis for a 1-0 victory, moving to a perfect 3-0 on the young season. With the win over Loras, the Scots moved up to the #7 rank in the nation.

“It’s nice to finally receive the national attention that we deserve, but we’re not getting too hung up on it,” said Carp. “We’re more focused on continuing to win games and making sure that we’re in a good position to win the MIAC and make the NCAA tournament.”

“The ranking is flattering, but we’ve been really careful to keep it in perspective and keep our heads right,” said midfielder Reid Usedom ’12. “We know what our team is capable of, and we don’t need some internet numbers to tell us that.”

Outscoring their opponents 7-0 through the first three games, there have been many strong performers for the Scots. As the top returning point scorer, Murphy-Logue is off to a torrid start with four points already in the young season. Joining Murphy-Logue for the team lead in points is Usedom, who has broken out with a pair of goals in three shots on goal, including the overtime game-winner against St. Scholastica. Among a class of talented freshmen, forward Chris Kartheiser ’14 has emerged early with three points on the young season. Forward Taylor Rasmussen ’14 and Johnson ’11 both have notched two points through the first three games.

In his first season as a fulltime starter, Johnson has emerged as one of the top distributors on the squad with a pair of assists, including the crucial ball to Murphy-Logue for the upset against Loras.

While the guys up front have done their job, the defense and goaltending have been spectacular, with three shutouts between goalies Matt Weyer ’12 and Mark Mullaney ’11.

As strategic of a game as any, coaching plays a huge role in the success of any soccer team. Enter Ian Barker. Barker, the 2009 MIAC Coach of the Year, is in his ninth year at the helm as head coach of the men’s team.

“Barker is by far the best coach I have ever had,” said Murphy-Logue. “He is able to breakdown the opposition position by position and relay his observations to us during the course of the game and at halftime. His tongue in cheek British humor is also a great trait.”

With an experienced core of players, plenty of talent and a mastermind on the sidelines, the sky appears to be the limit for this team, which has won 10 of its last 11 games going back to 2009.

Now that you’re an expert on the Mac men’s soccer team it’s time to round up your crew of flunkies, brush up on cheers, dust off your vuvuzela, and celebrate the weekend by giving the Scots a home field advantage as they take on Nebraska Wesleyan in the stadium at 4:30.

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