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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

Rasmussen's overtime goal sends men's soccer to MIAC final

By Matt Day

After 105 minutes of scoreless soccer Wednesday night, Taylor Rasmussen ’13 put a dropped ball by St. Olaf goalkeeper Alex Kuehl into the back of the net. The shot sent Rasmussen flying toward stands filled with a screaming crowd that had spent the night yelling their support despite freezing temperatures. And it sent the Scots into the conference finals, ending four years of playoff futility for the Macalester men’s soccer team.

Rasmussen scored the only goal in the 1-0 double overtime victory against St. Olaf in a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference semifinal game at Macalester Stadium. The win capped a furious run by the Scots (11-7-1, 7-3 MIAC), which saw the team finish the regular season with four straight wins, good enough for second in the conference.

The team heads to Northfield Saturday for a 1 p.m. game against regular season conference champion Carleton with an NCAA playoff berth on the line.

Such a scenario would have seemed far-fetched just four weeks ago.

After an overtime loss to Gustavus on Oct. 14 dropped the Scots to 3-2-1 in the conference, it appeared the team was bound to repeat its fortunes of the prior three years.

The Scots won the conference championship in 2005, but since then the team has struggled. Three consecutive seasons ended with a record close to .500 and the team on the outside looking in during the four-team conference playoffs.

Coach Ian Barker says halftime of this season’s loss to Gustavus was the turning point.

“We made some tactical switches which people felt comfortable with – something that fit our personnel,” Barker said.

“The guys have had a good degree of confidence since. There is a tremendous sense of belief.”

It showed.

Macalester refused to lose after the Gustavus setback. They beat nationally ranked St. Olaf 3-1 and topped bitter rival St. Thomas 2-1 on an overtime goal that Jake Rocke ’10 sent to the far post from 15 yards. A 3-0 win against an outmatched St. John’s squad and an overtime triumph against Hamline set up Wednesday’s semifinal.

Goalkeeper Matt Weyer ’12 kept the Oles off the board with four saves in the second half.

Weyer, who has split time with Mark Mullaney ’11 in goal, is 7-2 as a starter. The win was his fifth shutout of the season.

“Our defense stopped them all night,” he said. “It was only a matter of time.”

The time came when the St. Olaf keeper muffed Jesse Geary’s ’12 in-swinging corner kick as he tried to clear it. The ball fell in front of Rasmussen, who left no doubt with his first touch.

“That was the kind of shot where you don’t remember seeing the ball hit the net,” Rasmussen said.

The goal, Rasmussen’s sixth, made him the team leader. He is followed by Stephen Murphy-Logue ’11 and Carson Gorecki ’09, who each have five this year.

“We’ve found our mojo,” Gorecki said. “We all know we’re on the same page now.”

Barker agreed. “There is a little bit of chemistry there,” he said.

He said the team was forced to grow up quickly last year when injuries pressed younger players into service.

“There has been a little more steel in this group,” Barker said. “I attribute that to the sophomore class. Last year, we were so injury-plagued that the sophomore class grew up.”

Gorecki was the first of the string of injured players.

He broke his foot in August 2008, ending his senior season before it began. With a year of NCAA eligibility left, he opted not to graduate with his class to return to the field this year. Gorecki is set to graduate in December.

Gorecki, who was a freshman on the 2005 squad that made the NCAA playoffs, admitted he was nervous before Wednesday’s game.

“I don’t want to stop doing this,” Gorecki said. “This is why I stayed. This makes it all worth it.”

Rasmussen said he is not satisfied with reaching the MIAC tournament championship.

“I don’t want to stop here,” he said. “Let’s go to the NCAAs.”

With a win on Saturday, Macalester will do just that. And with luck, Rasmussen won’t have to wait as long as Gorecki did for his second trip.

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