Scots win MIAC Championship

By Mathew Starner

A first half goal from midfielder Ryan Marshall ’12 was all the Scots needed to clinch their first MIAC Championship since 2005, defeating Hamline 1-0 on Oct. 29. The win also gave the Scots the top seed in the MIAC playoffs.The celebration was short lived after Concordia upset the Scots 3-1 in the first MIAC playoff game Tuesday night. The loss surprised the Scots, but the scoreboard was heavily influenced only by the initial minutes of play.

“If you look at the score line, it looks like we got outplayed, but the statistics were strongly in our favor,” midfielder Erik Johnson ’11 said. “We outshot them, and we outplayed them for 80 minutes of the game. It was just that first ten minutes they got those really lucky goals.”

After a couple of arguably fluke goals, the Scots were in the difficult position of playing catch up the rest of the game after spotting Concordia a couple of scores.

“The tone was set from the beginning that we were fighting from behind, and we’ve kind of done that all season, but Concordia is a decent team,” defender Nate Juergens ’11 said. “But I did think we were better than them, definitely. We just made a few too many mistakes.”

In the regular season, the Scots were on the other side of a 3-1 victory over Concordia. In their playoff game, the Scots still gave a convincing effort, outshooting Concordia 23-11 as well as having a 13-2 advantage in corner kicks.

“We were the superior team for the entire 90 minutes,” head coach Ian Barker said. “It was as good as any performance we’ve put in, in terms of a 90 minute game. I’m not suggesting that Concordia weren’t worthy winners, but I didn’t have too much fault in our overall performance.

“We definitely gifted them that first goal and then we missed tremendous opportunities to score,” he said.

The winner of the MIAC playoffs gets an automatic qualification to the NCAA DIII tournament, which is how the Scots reached the tournament last year.

The Scots still have the opportunity to qualify for the NCAA tournament, but now with an at large bid. Depending on the winners of regional tournaments, the at large bids will be announced to schools on Monday on a live stream by the NCAA.

In order to put themselves in their best position for an at large bid, the Scots will need to cheer for Augsburg College to beat Concordia in the MIAC playoff finals so that Augsburg is not in consideration for an at large bid.

“It is most advantageous to us by a considerable margin that Augsburg wins,” Barker said. “From now on, we’d like the highest placed teams to win their leagues all around the country.”

The Scots were recently ranked 24th by a coaches poll and 4th in the region by the most recent NCAA ranking. The NCAA tournament awards 17 at large bids.

Juergens likes his team’s chances of getting into the tournament considering its regular season performance.

“It’s not very common that they snub the champion of a conference, and they did it last year in our conference with Carleton,” Juergens said. “Two years in a row of snubbing the same conference of their champion is not likely.”

If the Scots do make it further, forward Taylor Rasmussen ’13 will look to improve on an already impressive season. Rasmussen led the MIAC in scoring with 11 regular season goals as well as the Scots’ only postseason goal. Rasmussen was recently named to the CoSIDA / ESPN Academic All-District team with second-team honors.

“I would expect him to be all conference selection,” Barker said. “On the basis of our season, along with Taylor, we’ll probably have four or five guys make all conference. So we’re quite proud of that.”

Rasmussen has especially stood out as an underclassmen, which has made him impressive and valuable to the rest of the team.

“Taylor’s really stepped up this year,” Johnson said. “When we lost Carson Gorecki [’10], who was a superstar during his time here, we didn’t really have anyone to fill that hole. Taylor was the one who stepped up. Without Taylor, we definitely would not be where we are right now.