The winning streak ended Saturday for the University of Minnesota, Morris men's soccer team. The loss came in overtime at the hands (feet) of St. Scholastica after another Cougar shut out Friday at Northland College.
The loss cuts UMM's conference lead to two points with just three points to go. Defeating Presentation at home this weekend assures the Cougars an outright conference championship.
In Ashland, Wisc. Friday, the Cougars were able to post a 5-0 shut out while providing some bench time in the second half to many of their starters.
"This was probably as close to a true team win as you can have," head coach Christian DeVries said after the game. "Our bench came in and played 25 good minutes. Everyone played and everyone played well."
Brent Diggs opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Toby Glaser blasted a shot from 30 yards away that caromed off the post and landed at Diggs' feet. The senior forward calmly put the ball away for a 1-0 lead. It was Diggs 12th goal of the season.
Ten minutes later Glaser got another chance to score, this time from 25 yards, hitting the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Just before halftime, sophomore midfielder Matt Johnson threaded a pass to first-year player Mahad Abdi who tallied his second goal of the season for a 3-0 lead.
In the second half, the Cougars notched two more scores, just 23 seconds apart. On the first, junior forward Mattson Towley one-timed a free ball from 20 yards away on the right side for his eighth goal of the season. Then, moments after the subsequent reset, Towley assisted Abdi for his second goal of the day.
Once again the Cougar defense was sterling. Tyler Simpson in goal recorded the shut out while the backline limited the Lumberjacks to just two shots for the game.
St. Scholastica 2
Driving rain and gale force winds off Lake Superior blew across the soccer pitch in Duluth Saturday afternoon, where St. Scholastica prevailed 2-1 over the Cougars in double overtime.
DeVries called it "the most unreal set of circumstances I've been involved in as a college coach. I've never seen anything like it."
With the Cougars leading 1-0 and less than 10 seconds on the clock, UMM was called for a foul and the Saints were awarded a free kick near the midfield stripe. Twenty-one players packed into the penalty box as the ball was launched into the crowd and knocked safely away as time expired.
DeVries left the sidelines with his hands raised in jubilation, but a referee's whistle halted the celebration.
The referee had called a handball against the Cougars and when asked which player committed the infraction, the official could not cite a particular individual, just a UMM player.
(All of this action had transpired without a working game clock. The Scholastica scoreboard malfunctioned and went black during the 80th minute. Time was being kept by the referee which also added to the confusion.)
So, with no time on the clock, the Saints' Peter Toby made the penalty kick, sending the game into overtime.
With less than a minute remaining in the second overtime, St. Scholastica crossed a ball in front of the UMM goal. Goalkeeper Tyler Weber ran out to intercept it, but before he could get to the spot it caromed off senior defender Justin O'Connor's back and rolled past Weber and into the goal to end the game and the Cougars' hopes of a season sweep of the Saints.
For nearly 75 minutes, in near-torrential rain and wind, the game played to a stalemate with both teams mounting attacks, but unable to pose real scoring threats. For the game, the Cougars had 21 shots to the Saints' 14.
In the 79th minute, senior Patrick O'Connor crossed a ball into the box at the feet of Diggs who buried the pass into the net.
Given how the game had been played up to that point, DeVries said, "When we got that goal, I felt like we would have the game. We really felt like we had won the championship right there."
DeVries said his players were understandably disappointed and upset after the game. In spite of the turn of events, he said St. Scholastica deserved some credit for the win.
"Hey, they never gave up and that was the difference."