"This might be the most talented Maroon squad we've ever had" - Head Coach Mike Swenson
*photo credit Nathan Keller
Maroon played four games against MIAC competition in their preseason week: St. Olaf College reserves, Bethel University reserves, Macalester College reserves, and the Hamline University first team.
Maroon vs. St. Olaf College reserves
Maroon opened their preseason on Sunday August 22nd against a strong St. Olaf side. Following a balanced first half, Maroon came out of the gates firing early in the second half, with sophomore forward Joey Shirk latching on to a long ball from freshman defender Lane Versteeg. Shirk then finished in to an empty net after a miscommunication from the St. Olaf backline and keeper left an easy goal. St. Olaf responded back quickly, leveling with a nicely worked goal and pulling ahead a few minutes later from opportunistic play from the St. Olaf striker. The final whistle blew with the 2-1 scoreline favoring the Oles, but with many positives to take for a Maroon side playing their first game against a strong opponent.
Maroon vs. Bethel University reserves
The following day on Monday August 23rd, Maroon came out looking to respond to their unfortunate defeat a day prior. Facing off against the reserves of Bethel University, the first half saw Maroon create a bevy of chances from all over the field. Maroon opened the scoring early in the first half with an Olympico goal from sophomore defender Jennings Torgelson, curling his effort in to the far post from a corner kick. Sophomore forward Jackson Stair powered in his first goal of the season from 8 yards out to put Maroon 2-0 up going into halftime; although the Maroon squad surely will have felt the scoreline could be much more in their favor.
The second half saw them rectify that with some scintillating attacking play and finishing from the forwards of Maroon. Maroon added 7 second half goals to run out 9-0 winners, the highlight of the bunch being a superb effort off a direct free kick from senior midfielder and captain Cole Kiernan, who also added an assist in the second half. Junior midfielder Elden Serrato (a.k.a. Eldinho) had an excellent half, tallying a goal of his own and two assists. Stair also continued his stellar play, adding another goal and assist to cap off his day. The rest of the goals came from freshman forward Assem Elsayad who contributed a second half brace, freshman midfielder Zach Ziegert, and freshman defender Carson Smrz putting the final touches on a fantastic team performance. Other assists were contributed by junior midfielder Salih Hashim, sophomore midfielder Chalee Moua, junior midfielder Johnathan Gomez, and freshman defender Will Herbek.
Maroon vs. Macalester College reserves
Playing their third game in three days, the Maroon squad faced another stern test in the form of Macalester college reserves. Overall it was a cagey affair, with both teams well matched for ability. Freshman keeper Ryan Everhart and junior keeper Will Hagg both had standout performances and made a number of impressive saves to deny Macalester. With under 10 minutes remaining in the contest, a period of sustained pressure by Macalester yielded a goal to give the Scots the lead. Unfortunately Maroon couldn't muster a response in time and Macalester's reserves took a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
Maroon vs. Hamline University
Originally this contest was scheduled to be played at Hamline on August 26th, but due to inclement weather was pushed back to August 27th and moved to the UMN turf field. Facing the first team of Hamline University, the Maroon squad knew they would be up against another extremely strong opponent. The defense responded with equally strong performances across the line, as sophomore defender Zach Nebbia anchored the backline with poise and was dominant in the air. Senior forward Nathan Keller was strong in his holdup play, giving chances for the team to relieve pressure and link up play with the midfield. Maroon created more chances in the second half, with a couple corners offering some threat, but ultimately neither side walked away with the win as the final whistle blew at 0-0. Still, a good defensive performance against a very tough MIAC opponent leaves Maroon with a lot to be happy about as they close out their preseason.
Ski-U-Mah and Go Gophers!