Tommies & Scots set up St. Paul championship showdown

Tommies & Scots set up St. Paul championship showdown

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The 2016 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Men's Soccer Playoffs opened Tuesday with both lower-seeded road teams pulling off upsets to advance. However, Wednesday's semifinals flipped that script, as No. 1 St. Thomas and No. 2 Macalester successfully defended their home fields and ended the tournament runs of No. 5 Saint John's and No. 6 Augsburg. 

| 2016 MIAC Men's Soccer Playoffs |

Top-seeded St. Thomas (15-1-3) avenged its only loss of the season in dramatic fashion with a game-winning overtime goal to beat No. 6 Augsburg (8-10-2) 1-0 in St. Paul, Minn. No. 2 Macalester (13-3-3) played a complete game and got a goal early in each half as it pulled out a 2-0 semifinal win over No. 5 Saint John's (7-9-3). Now, the two St. Paul rivals will square off Saturday as the Tommies and Scots will meet with the Playoff title – and an NCAA bid – on the line.

NO. 1 ST. THOMAS 1, NO. 6 AUGSBURG 0 (OT) | Box Score |
The sixth-seeded Auggies entered Wednesday's semifinal game at top-seeded St. Thomas riding quite the wave of late-season momentum. Not only did Augsburg win its last two games of the regular season to make the Playoffs and pull off a road upset of No. 3 Gustavus Tuesday, it actually handed the 12th-ranked Tommies their only loss of the season in Saturday's regular season finale. 

And, even though UST was certainly the aggressor in Wednesday's Playoff rematch, Augsburg stayed in the fight and kept the Tommies off the board. When the final buzzer sounded after 90 minutes of regulation, neither team had scored and the game was headed to overtime – and that's where the clock finally struck midnight on the Auggies' Cinderalla story.

Just 54 seconds into the extra period, UST attacked the Augsburg net and fired a shot on goal. Auggie keeper Clark Page made the initial stop, but Connor Young was there to put the rebound into the net for his second – and biggest – goal of the season. Mark Heydt & Christian Elliehausen both assisted on the game winner, and the St. Thomas celebration was on as the team won its way to the MIAC Playoff title game for the second-straight season in dramatic fashion. 

Tommie goalie Aidan Hogan improved to 8-0-1 with a two-save shutout, as UST out-shot Augsburg 14-2, including a 6-2 edge in shots on goal. Page made five stops and allowed the lone overtime goal in the loss. Elliehausen had three shots on goal for St. Thomas and Bobby Kohl had both of Augsburg's shots on goal. The Tommies had more corner kicks, 6-1, and committed more fouls, 10-8.

NO. 2 MACALESTER 2, NO. 5 SAINT JOHN'S 0 | Box Score |
Saint John's – seeded fifth – has had a knack for pulling road upsets in the MIAC Playoffs in recent years, evidenced by Tuesday's quarterfinal win at No. 4 Carleton. And a year ago, Macalester was upset at home in the semifinals as the tournament's top seed. However, those trends became mirages Wednesday as the second-seeded Scots rode home-field advantage, a big night from Charlie Spurr and strong defense to a 2-0 semifinal win. 

Spurr led the offense with a goal and an assist, Macalester goalkeeper Zeke Vainer earned a save in the net and the Scots controlled most of the action throughout to earn a spot in Saturday's championship game, where it will face St. Thomas in a highly-anticipated battle of St. Paul rivals.

Just 10:49 into the game, Max Abramson buried the eventual game winner from six yards out after the Scots got a long throw-in. Spurr and Max Kent both assisted on the goal that gave Macalester a quick 1-0 lead. The comeback trail got even tougher for SJU when a red card was assessed to the Johnnies in the 36th minute, leaving them a man down the rest of the game. And then Spurr slammed the door on the win with a big insurance goal shortly after halftime when he stole the ball and blasted a shot from 20 yards that found the net and made it 2-0.

Vainer needed to make just one save to earn his shutout and improve to 13-3-3 in goal this season, as the Scots held a 16-5 edge in shots and a 7-1 advantage in shots on goal. Johnnie keeper Nicholas French made five saves in the loss, allowing the two goals. Macalester had more corner kicks, 8-1, and committed more fouls, 17-11. 

SATURDAY ST. PAUL CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN
St. Paul is the place to be Saturday, as the two neighboring schools and cross-town rivals will meet with the 2016 MIAC Men's Soccer Playoff championship on the line. Both have been ranked as high as No. 6 nationally this season, and the two have won the last two MIAC regular-season titles, so a Tommie-Scot final game is a fitting conclusion to the tournament. UST won their regular-season meeting, 1-0, on Oct. 7 at Macalester. 

Saturday's game will start at 11 a.m., as part of a MIAC title-game doubleheader. The Tommie women are the No. 1 seed in their tournament as well, and they'll host No. 3 Augsburg in the MIAC Women's Soccer Playoff championship game at 1:30 p.m. The MIAC Playoff champion will receive the postseason championship plaque and the conference's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament. There will be a new MIAC Men's Soccer Playoff champion as 2015 champ St. Olaf did not qualify for the field.

The MIAC has a home page dedicated to the 2016 MIAC Men's Soccer Playoffs, containing schedules, links and information on each of the six teams in the field. Throughout the tournament, the page will be updated with scores, stats, updated schedules and more. Fans can also follow the action on the MIAC Scoreboard or on the free MIAC mobile app. Connect throughout the Playoffs on social media through the MIAC's FacebookInstagram or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #MIACMSOC.


2016 MIAC MEN'S SOCCER PLAYOFFS

Quarterfinals | Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 |
No. 6 Augsburg def. No. 3 Gustavus, 2-1 | Box Score | Recap |
No. 5 Saint John's def. No. 4 Carleton, 3-0 | Box Score | Recap |

Semifinals | Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 | 
No. 1 St. Thomas def. No. 6 Augsburg, 1-0 (OT) | Box Score | 
No. 2 Macalester def. No. 5 Saint John's, 2-0 | Box Score | 

Championship | Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 |
No. 2 Macalester at No. 1 St. Thomas | St. Paul, Minn. | 11 a.m. |


2016 MIAC Men's Soccer Playoffs |