Kuplic does it again, Tommies to Final Four
St. Thomas Men's Soccer has made program history. Coach Jon Lowery's Tommies have qualified for the NCAA tournament semifinals for the first time, thanks to Sunday's stunning 3-2 comeback win over No. 25-ranked Redlands (Calif).
The No. 8-ranked Tommies (20-1-3) trailed 2-0 with 20 minutes to play against a Bulldog team (18-6-1) that won 3-2 Saturday on the road against the University of Chicago, the nation's No. 1-ranked team.
The Tommies mounted their third clutch comeback win in their nine-day, 4-0 run thus far through the national playoffs. They also made it 6-0-3 this season in overtime play, including four OT victories thus far in confererce or NCAA playoffs. UST reached 20 wins and improved to 9-0-1 away from campus (2-0 neutral).
The Tommies will play Friday Dec. 2 in Salem, Va., in the national semifinals against unranked Tufts (Mass.) (13-5-2). Unranked Brandeis (13-5-4) and No. 16-ranked Calvin (22-2) play that day in the other semifinal.
If "Rudy" is the gold standard of college football underdogs, "Tony" may become college soccer's term for the ultimate overachiever.
UST senior Tony Kuplic, playing in just his 12th college game, scored the first goal in the 71st minute and later drilled in the game winner in the 97th minute, in overtime one. The latter goal came off a slick pass from junior Christian Elliehausen, who scored a clutch tying goal in Saturday's overtime win over Benedictine.
In four playoff games, Kuplic has taken only eight shots on goal but has converted five into goals. That includes the tying goal in the 88th minute and the winning goal in the 107th minute in a 2-1 win over St. Scholastica on Nov. 12; an insurance goal Nov. 13 in the 2-0 defeat of Luther; and Sunday's historic two goals.
Shae Bottum converted a penalty kick in the 79th minute Sunday to tie the score at 2-2.
Aidan Hogan had three saves in net and improved to 13-0-1 on the season.
This is just the second MIAC men's soccer team to reach a Final Four -- Gustavus took second place in 2005.
St. Thomas improved to 11-1 in games on his career when Elliehausen has scored a goal or an assist.