By Nate Oglesbee
For the third time in as many years, the women’s soccer team has won the MIAC Playoffs; a single-elimination style tournament that Macalester was against implementing in the first place. The Scots once again proved that the best team will consistently rise to the top, even with the danger of a “one and done” conference playoffs. Hosting Concordia College-Moorhead in a repeat of last year’s MIAC Playoff Championship, many were expecting a high-scoring battle. But the match ultimately came down to an overtime golden-goal, giving Mac a 1-0 victory. “It was a tough game, because both teams were very offensive,” Katie Pastorius ’06 said. “Surprisingly, both teams played really well on defense. We both scored the most goals in the league [this year]…so it was a good game.” With the win, Mac improved to an impressive 19-0-1, the team’s best win-total since the 1998 National Championship season, when the Scots had 21 wins. The women also now have a 62-0-7 record at home against MIAC opponents since 1993. The Concordia win also guaranteed the Scots a spot in the NCAA playoffs, and with its No. 3 national ranking, the Scots were able to secure a first-round bye, and at least one home-field game. That match will be played tomorrow, at 6:00 p.m. against Grinnell. In a close game earlier this year, Mac was able to edge Grinnell 1-0. The Scots and Grinnell Pioneers also met in the first round of last year’s NCAA playoffs, with Mac winning 3-0 off a hat trick by Annie Borton ’07. If they win Saturday’s game, the Scots will face tough competition regardless of the opponent. Their section of the bracket includes five other ranked schools. No. 4 Wheaton (Ill.), No. 6 Puget Sound, No. 15 Chicago, No. 18 Emory, and No. 25 UW-Eau Claire, are all potential obstacles on Mac’s road to the final four. The NCAA soccer playoffs are set up in much the same way as the NCAA’s “March Madness” basketball. Through six rounds of single-elimination games, teams must literally win or go home. Mac voted against the playoff format that started three years ago, arguing that the championship, and the ensuing automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs should be determined by regular-season play. Now the team hopes it can continue its MIAC playoff success into the NCAA playoffs. “If we play up to our potential, we’ve really got a chance to do well,” Borton said. “But we’ve got to step it up.” In the Concordia game, neither team played great soccer. Mac was the better team in the first half, but Concordia turned the tables in the second. The Scots had the better scoring chances, but couldn’t put it away until midway through the first overtime. On Macalester’s10th corner kick of the game, Pastorius sent in a perfect cross that Cara Goff ’06 headed past the keeper toward the near post. “We’re always dangerous from corners,” head coach John Leaney said. “Eventually winning from a corner was no surprise.” That assist, coupled with a goal against Augsburg, earned Pastorius MIAC Player of the Week Honors. That comes on the heels of Pastorius being named to the Academic All-District 5 first-team, a precursor to Academic All-American honors, for her accomplishments on the field and in the classroom. Mac’s defense has been solid all season, allowing only six goals this year, and giving the team a chance to win tight games like the one versus Concordia. That should serve the squad well as it begins its quest for a national championship, playing close games against top teams from across the country. For now, Mac is staying focused on the task at hand. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time,” Borton said, “[because] you never know, on any given day, anything can happen.