ST. PAUL, Minn. – It's been a remarkable season of firsts for the University of St. Thomas men's soccer team. The No. 12-ranked Tommies (16-1-3) rattled off a near-perfect 7-1-2 record in conference to win its first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) championship since 1995 and first outright title since 1993.
Saturday, UST added another big first as the top-seeded Tommies defeated No. 2-seeded Macalester (13-4-3) 1-0 to win the program's first-ever MIAC Men's Soccer Playoff championship. Shae Bottum scored the championship-winning goal in the second half and goalkeeper Aidan Hogan and the St. Thomas defense kept the Scots off the board to win the title.
| BOX SCORE | PHOTOS (For sale) | 2016 MIAC Men's Soccer Playoffs |
It was also the Tommies first opportunity to host the Playoff championship game in their second-straight appearance after reaching the final as the No. 6 seed a year ago. Saturday was a perfect day for the two St. Paul rivals with an energetic, capacity crowd and unbelievable November Minnesota weather, and St. Thomas and Macalester treated the fans to a game fitting of a championship.
The visiting Scots came ready to play and controlled the action for a large portion of the first 45 minutes. The game was scoreless at halftime, with Macalester holding a farily decisive advantage in shots, 9-3, and shots on goal, 2-0, as the home team didn't put a single shot on goal in the first half.
However, everything changed shortly after halftime. In the 52nd minute the Tommies served a ball into the box. Shane Marshall directed the ball to Bottum, who buried his shot in the lower left corner, perfectly placed past a diving Scots goalkeeper Zeke Vainer to give St. Thomas the lead and, eventually, the win and the championship.
|St. Thomas celebrates its 2016 MIAC Men's SoccerPlayoff championship.
(Photo by Matt Higgins, MIAC)
Macalester had a few good chances to tie the score late in the game, including on a free kick from 40 yards out, but Hogan made a good play on the ball and snuffed out the final threat. The final seconds ticked off, and the Tommie celebration was on.
St. Thomas won despite being out-shot 13-6, and its goal came on its lone shot on goal to three shots on goal for Macalester. Hogan made all three saves to earn the win and shutout as he improved to 9-0-1 on the season, and Vainer was saddled with the loss to fall to 13-4-2 in a matchup of two of the MIAC's best in net. Macalester's Charlie Spurr led all players with four shots, including one on goal, and Bottom had two of UST's six shots including the lone goal and shot on goal for the winners. The Scots also held a slight edge in corner kicks (7-6) and committed fewer fouls (9-13).
The Tommies received the MIAC Playoff championship plaque and the conference's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament. Macalester and the MIAC's other top teams will eagerly await "Selection Monday" to see if the league sends any additional teams to the tournament via at-large bids. The NCAA will announce the national tournament field with a live selection show on NCAA.com Monday at 12 p.m.
The MIAC has a home page dedicated to the 2016 MIAC Men's Soccer Playoffs, containing scores, stats, news, photos and more from an outstanding postseason tournament. Fans can also discuss the MIAC Men's Soccer Playoffs on social media through the MIAC's Facebook, Instagram 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 | Recap |
No. 2 Macalester def. No. 5 Saint John's, 2-0 | Box Score | Recap |
Championship | Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 |
No. 1 St. Thomas* def No. 2 Macalester, 1-0 | Box Score | Photos |
*St. Thomas receives automatic bid to NCAA Tournament