The St. Olaf women’s soccer team clinched the sixth spot in the conference playoffs after finishing 10-5-2 overall and 6-4-1 within the conference. By beating St. Thomas, St. Ben’s and Gustavus, the team demonstrated that they were a force to be reckoned with, capable of playing against and beating the top teams in the MIAC.
The team was led by forward Mackenzie Schoustra ’20, who scored 11 goals on 78 shots, putting her on the leaderboard within the conference for a variety of statistics. She had four games in which she scored multiple goals: St. Mary’s on Sept. 15, Gustavus on Sept. 26, Hamline on Sept. 29 and Carleton on Oct. 9.
With a total of 25 goals for and 15 goals against, the team rose to prominence with a strong defense. Goalie Brynne Davis ’21 helped out in that regard, boasting a save percentage of .847, only allowing .8 goals scored per game.
Despite playing well all season, towards the end, the team battled injuries and in general struggled to stay healthy. A number of starting players went down with injuries, preventing them from finishing the season and playing at 100 percent. Annalise Neiberger ’19, Rose Sandell ’21, Kate Oehm ’22 and Emily Lecy ’19 were all injured during the last few games.
These injuries put the team at a significant disadvantage come playoff time. Playing away from the Rolf Mellby turf, the team gave Augsburg a run for their money but fell short after 90 minutes. Augsburg scored two goals within the first 10 minutes of the second half. St. Olaf did their best to contain standout Ashley St. Aubin, who logged eight shots during the game, scoring one in the 57th minute and assisting one in 48th. St. Aubin proved that she is an elite goal scorer over the course of the season, and leads the conference in goals, shots and points with 53.
Claire Bash ’20 and Sandell both had eight shots on net, but failed to find twine.
Augsburg moved on to the semifinals after beating St. Olaf to play the two seed Bethel. They upset the Royals with a 4-2 win.
On the other side of the bracket, four-seed St. Kate’s beat St. Ben’s 1-0. They advanced to play the one-seed St. Thomas, only to lose 2-0. St. Thomas won the MIAC Championship at home on Nov. 3, beating Augsburg 3-1.
For the first time in program history, the University of St. Thomas is headed to the 2018 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament as both the regular season and playoff champions.
While young, the St. Olaf team will remember this loss and looks to come back and compete for the conference title again next season. The team is only losing four seniors, and should be able to help replace the talent lost with incoming first-years and improving underclassmen. With offseason training, more experience and a large number of returning players, the team hopes to advance past the quarterfinals towards a conference championship and a bid to the NCAA national tournament next year.