Men’s soccer team charges up the standings down the stretch

By Patrick Murphy

After a slow start to the season, the Macalester men’s soccer team has gotten back on track in a big way, rattling off four consecutive wins while outscoring their opponents 19-1. Last year, the squad finished the regular season with a record of 14-3-1 (8-2 in conference); however, the graduation of a pair of All-MIAC players left some big holes for the reigning MIAC champions to fill. The Scots struggled to adjust, starting the season 1-3, but as the season has worn on, the team has increasingly gelled as a unit. “It just took longer this season for the pieces to fall into place,” said forward Taylor Rasmussen ’13. “But now the defense is playing tight, our midfield is strong and controlling, and we’re scoring goals on our chances. Oh, and Matt Weyer doesn’t like seeing the ball in the back of his goal, so he’s just been posting shutouts.” Midfielder Reid Usedom ’12 acknowledged the loss of last year’s seniors but also posited that this year’s team has been more productive on offense and stronger in possession. “Last year we lived and died by our defense and that hasn’t changed,” said Usedom. Featuring one of the youngest back lines in the conference, the Scot defense has performed admirably this year, allowing the third fewest goals in the conference (13). Goalie Matt Weyer ’12 pointed to the consistent improvement of backers David Cameron ’14 and Taro Takigawa ’15 as keys to the team’s success. Cameron and Takigawa have settled in alongside the brotherly duo of Andrew Lund ’12 and Paul Lund ’14 on the Scots’ back line, which plays a flat four formation, as explained to me by midfielder Tommy Symmes ’13. The elder Lund, while not a sweeper in the traditional sense, boasts a physical style of play that has made him one of the most feared defenders in the region over his career as a four-year starter for the Scots. Lund, who is also noted for having the best hair on any pitch in the conference, anchors the back line, which has proven increasingly stingy as the season has worn on. “I don’t think that the amount of talent on the field was ever in question, it was just a matter of putting it together, and I think we’ve finally figured out how to make that happen,” said Lund. With the defense coming into its own and Weyer playing at his usual high level in net, the only missing puzzle piece was consistent offensive production. However, that problem has been resolved in the last two weeks of play with the Scots registering 19 goals in their last four games–a scoring tear that has landed the team in the thick of the MIAC playoff race. The Scots’ offensive attack is spearheaded by Rasmussen, who leads the MIAC in scoring with 11 goals through 12 games. Already in the midst of his second consecutive season of double-digit goals, Rasmussen is the type of player an opponent plans their defensive game plan around. Rasmussen’s big numbers have been supplemented by midfielder Robin Forslund ’14. Coming off of a solid freshman season, Forslund has tallied four goals and five assists for the Scots in an expanded role this season. Coming into Wednesday night’s matchup with neighborhood rival St. Thomas, the Scots were fourth in the MIAC standings. On a rain-soaked field at Macalester Stadium, the Tommies struck first and went into halftime leading 1-0. Unfortunately for St. Thomas, the Scots came out in the second half playing like a team possessed. Usedom led off the scoring six minutes into the half with a blast that found the back of the net from 20 yards out. (It should also be added that Usedom was seen in the library less than half an hour after the game– a true student athlete.) The sides played evenly for thirteen minutes until midfielder Jesse Geary ’12 struck a 20-yard set piece that beat the St. Thomas keeper for his second goal on the season. Not one to be left out, Rasmussen got in on the scoring party with a brilliant diving header off of a Forslund cross into the box that sealed the Tommies’ fate. With the win, the Scots moved up to third in the crowded MIAC standings with three critical conference games remaining. With only two games separating the top six teams, the four MIAC playoff spots are still very much up for grabs. This Saturday, the Scots will host St. Olaf, the fourth-place team in the conference, on Senior Night in a game with major postseason implications. The game, which gets underway at 7:30 pm, is the Scots’ final home game of the regular season and promises to be a thriller. “St. Olaf is currently top of the table, so it will likely be the biggest game and one of the best games of our season, as well as play a large role in the seeding for the postseason,” said Lund. With both teams riding winning streaks coming into the matchup, something has to give on Saturday night. “Olaf is shaping up to be enormous,” said Usedom. “It’s the last scheduled home game of the season and of many key players’ careers. It’s family fest, Saturday night, the week after most mid-terms– It’s the perfect excuse to come out and get raucous and be a part of something special. The team appreciates nothing more than the support of fans, and we give everything we have to give them something to cheer about.” As if all of this weren’t enough, there have been hushed whispers among the players of the possibility of the long-awaited debut of the infamous Carptactic ™. The ‘tactic, the signature goal celebration dance of forward Jeremy Carp ’12, is the stuff of legend and can only be compared in significance to the birth of a unicorn. So, come out on Saturday night. Bring all of your friends and get loud. It’s going to be the biggest party of the weekend. And the cops can’t bust it. 7:30. Be there.