The St. Olaf men’s soccer team, which finished fourth in the MIAC during the regular season, continues to turn heads after upsetting both the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Macalester College in the opening two rounds of the NCAA Division III National Championships. This is the Oles’ third trip to the national tournament since 2009, but this year’s team appears to be special.
Now a legitimate dark horse contender, the Oles set their sights on the next round and seek to push further into the tournament, hoping to become what many will consider the best men’s soccer team in St. Olaf history.
In the opening round of play on Nov. 13, the Oles upset the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, champions of the WIAC, 2-0 at Macalester College in St. Paul. Kevin Skrip ’16 led the Oles with two goals, scoring for the first time since late October despite leading the Oles with 14 total goals during the regular season. Skrip’s first goal hit the back of the net in the 13th minute and was quickly followed by a second goal in the 32nd with an assist from fellow forward Jens Undlin ’16. St. Olaf outshot Oshkosh 7-1 during the match. The Oles again remained stout on the defensive side of the ball, with goalkeeper Ben Braman ’17 only having to make one save during the game. This was Braman’s sixth shutout of the season, an impressive feat considering the strength and skill of the Oshkosh forwards.
The Oles continued their excellent play the next day, defeating a Macalester College team that had beaten St. Olaf 1-0 earlier in the season, in front of a large and raucous crowd in St. Paul, Minn. This time, Undlin scored the lone goal for the Oles with just three minutes remaining in the game after an assist from Skrip. Braman and the Ole defense once again came out of the match with a clean sheet, fighting off a flurry of Macalester shots late in the second half. Braman only had to make two saves and now has seven shutouts for the year. The Oles have yet to allow any goals during the postseason.
St. Olaf will continue on to the round of 16 and will take on Wheaton College at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa on Nov. 20. The Oles hope to hold on to the magic they have found thus far in a postseason in which nobody expected them to have any success. Victory is there for the taking and the Oles have nothing to lose. This is the postseason, and St. Olaf is a dark horse team looking to make history.