Luther knocks Oles out of NCAA's with 1-0 triumph
November 13, 2011
DECORAH, Iowa- A rebound goal by senior Jason Block just under two minutes into the second half was enough to earn host Luther a 1-0 win over the St. Olaf men's soccer team on Sunday evening in a second round NCAA tournament game, sending the Norse to the round of 16 and ending one of the most successful seasons by an Ole team in recent memory.
Block's seventh goal of the season came 117 seconds into the second half. With Luther on the attack, St. Olaf's defense blocked a Norse shot but the rebound fell to the feet of Block who fired the ball past St. Olaf goalie Harry Ullmann into the upper-left corner of the goal. The goal was unassisted.
Block's game-winning strike came following a first half where neither team managed to create a clear-cut scoring opportunity. Luther controlled the play for the majority of the first half but both teams were relatively cautious, as neither wanted to make a critical error. St. Olaf?s best chance in the first half came when Kenzie and Nick Lund nearly combined in the Norse penalty area but the ball ran too far and out of play. There was not a single shot on goal for either team before the halftime break.
The game sprang into action early in the second half, especially after Block's goal. Suddenly finding themselves down 1-0, the Oles upped the tempo and pushed for a tying goal. Knowing they needed a goal to keep their season alive, St. Olaf dictated the play during much of the second half, as Luther was seemingly content with their 1-0 cushion.
After being dominant on set-pieces in their first round win over Carroll (Wis.), the Oles had several more opportunities from free-kicks and corner kicks against the Norse but could not manage to capitalize on any of them. Midway through the second half, Max Lund's free-kick from the center circle was met by midfielder Sean Legler in the Norse box but he could not make a meaningful connection with the ball. St. Olaf's best opportunity of the game also came towards the middle of the second half when MIAC Player of the Year David Rosenthal's shot from the edge of the box beat Luther goalie Steve O?Meara but caromed off the crossbar and went out of play. Several minutes later, O'Meara made a fine save to deny Nick Lund's well-struck shot from just outside the box.
For the game, the Oles outshot the Norse 21-10 but Luther managed to get five shots on goal, while St. Olaf only had four. Max Lund, Blake Dressen, and Nick Lund each had four shots for the Oles, while Jonathan Lawson led the Norse with four of his own. O'Meara made four saves for Luther in goal, while Ullmann was credited with three saves.
The win sends Luther (17-3-2) through to the round of 16 where they will play Hope College (17-4-3). St. Olaf's season ends with a record of 17-4-1, 7-2-1 in MIAC play. The Oles shared the MIAC regular season title with Carleton and topped the Knights in a thrilling MIAC Playoff Championship game to win their first MIAC playoff title. The 17 win season ties the 1999 team for the most victories in a season in school history. The game also marked the last game in a St. Olaf uniform for seniors Sean Legler, Max Lund, Blake Dressen, and Luke Peterson.