"This team can be something special this year" -Peter Rundquist
*photo credit Nathan Keller
The Gold team faced stiff competition in the form of MIAC varsity first teams in their preseason, coming up against Carleton College, St. Olaf College, Macalester College, and Bethel University. Lets see how they got on...
Gold vs. Carleton College
Gold opened their preseason August 20th in Northfield against the Carleton College Knights. Facing a talented team with numerous All-MIAC performers and All-American forward da Cunha, the game was an open-ended attacking contest from the start. A few shots from Junior forward Sam Yarmulnik provided an early threat to the Carleton defense, but ultimately the Knights would strike first on the counter. Following a quick move down the wing, the trailing Carleton forward crashed the box well and put away a rebounded strike to take a 1-0 lead. The Gophers responded well, putting together some fluid attacking moves. Roughly 10 minutes after Carleton pulled ahead, Gold leveled the score from a set piece. Senior defender Ben Heydt whipped in a dangerous corner that collided around in the box, and freshman midfielder Carter Belisle was quickest to react, poking home the loose ball for a debut goal to level the score at 1-1 going in to the break.
The Gophers started the second half with much more attacking intent than was seen in the first. The searching long balls of Junior defender Ale Ferrer-Lugo were causing problems for the Carleton defense, as Gold's wingers were finding space in the wide areas to attack from his deliveries. Gold was still troubling the Knights with their set pieces just the same as in the first half, and again the sustained pressure paid off. A corner whipped in to the box fell to Yarmulnik, whose subsequent shot was impeded by a Carleton handball, giving a penalty to the Gophers. Yarmulnik buried his effort in the bottom corner, putting Gold up 2-1 on the comeback.
An unfortunate Carleton injury with about 15 minutes left in the match meant the game had to be abandoned from that point, but what was played showed a strong starting point for Gold to build off.
Gold vs. St. Olaf College
Two days after the Carleton victory, Gold found themselves back in Northfield to take on a different opponent in St. Olaf. Facing up against another tough MIAC opponent, chances were few and far between in the first half, as both teams probed but found little weakness in each others defense. The second half showed a much more open game, as both teams committed more numbers forward to pile pressure on. The levee broke for St. Olaf first, a clever run splitting the center backs as the St. Olaf striker subsequently found the back of the net with a clinical finish.
However, the lead would last all of five minutes as Gold pushed on with renewed vigor. A loose ball in St. Olaf's box was reached first by Yarmulnik, and the Oles keeper was too late off his line and committed a foul in the box to give the Gophers a penalty. Yarmulnik buried his penalty again to give him his second goal of the year, and bring the Gophers level at 1-1. The end of the match saw a St. Olaf goal to regain the lead (which has been reviewed by the film committee and determined to be offside, though it was given as a goal in the moment due to a lack of line referees for this match). Against a strong MIAC title contender, Gold put on another impressive display with two more matches still to come.
Gold vs. Macalester College
Back in the Twin Cities for this match, Gold took on the Macalester College Scots on August 24th. The match started brightly for Gold, as the midfield pairing of junior Daniel Caballero and graduate midfielder Avery Larsson was putting the Macalester midfield under significant pressure. The team pressing paid off as sophomore forward Jasper Goldstein closed down the Macalester keeper and nicked the ball right off his foot to slot in to an empty net, giving Gold a 1-0 advantage.
Gold continued their stellar play in the second half, doubling their lead shortly after 45 minutes. A long ball launched in to the box was searched out by junior forward Cole Brzakala, flicking a header to the far post as senior midfielder Robel Asmelash crashed the box, heading in from close range. Gold piled on just a few minutes later, Brzakala adding a goal to his tally on a cutback pass from Belisle. Macalester would pull two back in the final 10 minutes of the game to set up a nervy ending, but Gold held strong to claim a well-earned win.
Gold vs. Bethel University
The following day Gold made the short trip up to Bethel University to face off against the Royals. Gold couldn't quite replicate their fast start against Macalester the following day, as Bethel found a couple chances early that were well saved by debut graduate keeper Lee Owen. Gold struck first somewhat against the run of play, as a streaky run down the sideline by Yarmulnik saw him find a gorgeous cross across the box to the feet of fellow forward Gutu Regassa. Regassa found the bottom corner with a composed finish under the keeper to put Gold up 1-0. Gold held the lead to go in to the break with the advantage.
Gold started the second half looking much more settled than they had been in the first. Pushing forward early in the half, graduate defender Seiya Wakahara drew a foul in a dangerous position on top of the box. Yarmulnik's effort from the free kick was curled beautifully in to the far post past the outstretched hand of the Royal's keeper to put Gold two goals to the good. The rest of the match was seen out with relative calmness, as Gold took the sting out of the game and imposed their will on the match. The final 5 minutes would yield one more goal for the Gophers, as senior forward Bridger Good latched on to an errant Royals pass, dribbled past another Bethel defender, and lashed his left-footed effort in to the top corner to put the game beyond all doubt.
An overall successful preseason for the Gold squad, with convincing victories against many MIAC stalwarts, will have the Gophers primed and ready to get the season underway. Check back soon for more results and updates...
Ski-U-Mah and Go Gophers!