Soccer teams to take on the nation

By Mathew Starner

For the second consecutive year, both men’s and women’s soccer will represent Macalester in the NCAA Division III tournament.After the women’s team missed the MIAC playoffs, Lauryn Gutierrez ’11 is looking to make up for lost time in a playoff spotlight.

“I think for a lot of us that this bid for nationals is a chance for redemption, knowing that we have the opportunity to play some great, competitive soccer and show everyone that Macalester soccer truly deserves this bid for nationals,” she said.

The men’s team won the MIAC Championship in the regular season, only to soon be knocked out of the regional playoffs. With their NCAA at-large bid, head coach Ian Barker expects his team to show that their regional playoff loss wasn’t indicative of their talent.

“We can all say of course that we want to win, but there’s saying it and actually demonstrating it,” Barker said. “If they demonstrate the same intent that they did last year, I could easily see us coming back here at three o’clock Monday morning with two wins.”

The men will travel to Wisconsin to play Wisconsin-Whitewater tomorrow, which may not be very discerning for the Scots.

“I’m not particularly disappointed to be on the road,” Barker said. “We did very well going on the road last year.”

If the Scots win Saturday, they will potentially face an Augsburg team that actually helped the Scots reach the NCAA tournament by winning the MIAC playoffs.

“If [Augsburg] lost to Concordia in the MIAC playoffs, they would have likely received the at-large bid over us,” Barker said. “Augsburg ended up being a guardian angel this year. The strange irony will be if we beat Augsburg in the NCAA this weekend.”

While the men will have to play on the road, the women will have up to two home games this weekend, starting with their matchup tonight against Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 7:30 p.m.

“For me and my fellow senior teammates, this final chance to play on our home field in front of a home crowd in the national tournament is the best end to our collegiate soccer career that we could have possibly asked for,” Gutierrez said.

Head coach Kate Reiling anticipates a difficult match tonight against a team that has seen success in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s interesting because you never know what to expect in the playoffs,” Reiling said. “Some teams are better and some teams don’t respond. But Stevens Point has a strong history of getting in the tournament and doing well.”

Reiling is eager to field a strong team tonight with the end of the season momentum the team carried.

“I’ve been impressed with my players by their resilience and flexibility,” she said. “I’m really psyched to be going to the NCAA tournament, and I’m really excited about the team that I’m able to coach this year.”

All-Conference player Nate Juergens ’11 hopes to capitalize on potentially his last games in a Macalester uniform.

“Our goals for the weekend are the same as pretty much every team entering this tournament; win, and then win again,” Juergens said. “We don’t have an option, and there is plenty of time to rest after the season.

“For the seniors especially, these are the last games of our collegiate careers, and we won’t just go quietly into the night,” Juergens said.

For Mac soccer fans, on the other hand, the weekend’s games will be the last opportunity to see a game all year, but Gutierrez also knows there’s more than just the soccer to see. “If it’s any incentive, we’ll be doing the Jigalow.