Auggies reach MIAC Playoffs, Holker sets school victory record
WINONA, Minn. -- The Augsburg College men's soccer team claimed a berth in the four-team Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason playoffs for the fourth time in a six-season span, scoring a 3-0 win at St. Mary's University on Saturday afternoon at Ochrymowycz Field.
With the win, Augsburg head coach Greg Holker became the school's all-time victory leader in men's soccer, surpassing Rolf Eriksen, who was 81-32-19 in nine seasons with the Auggies (1971-73, 1976-81). Holker is now 82-51-19 in his eight seasons as Augsburg's head coach.
The Auggies finished the regular season at 10-4-3 overall, 6-3-1 in MIAC play, tying Macalester for fourth place in the league standings with 19 league points (three points for a win, one point for a tie). Macalester tied Gustavus 1-1 in overtime on Saturday. Augsburg receives the fourth seed in the MIAC playoffs based on the Auggies' 1-0 win at Macalester on Sept. 21.
Augsburg will face top-seed St. Olaf in the conference playoff semifinals on Wednesday (11/2) at 2 p.m. in Northfield, Minn. St. Olaf (14-3-1 overall, 7-2-1 MIAC) and Carleton (11-5-2 overall, 7-2-1 MIAC) tied for the conference regular-season crown, with St. Olaf's 3-1 win over Carleton on Saturday giving the Oles the top seed. Carleton will host Gustavus (14-1-3 overall, 6-1-3 MIAC) in the other semifinal on Wednesday at 2 p.m., with the championship game next Saturday (11/5) at the site of the highest remaining seed. The conference playoff champion receives the MIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament.
"We are thrilled to be back in the MIAC Playoffs. It's something we want to experience every year," Holker said. "I think we already appreciate this opportunity maybe more than other years, because of the circumstances surrounding this season. St. Olaf is a fantastic team with incredible talent. We are excited to get another crack at them."
Gottlieb Uahengo (SO, Windhoek, Namibia/St. George's College) put the Auggies in front with a goal just 4:01 into the contest, with assists going to Mathias Macody Lund (SO, Bergen, Norway) and Matt Bowman (SR, Maple Grove, Minn.). With the assist, Bowman moved into a tie for second place on Augsburg's career record list for assists with 19, tying Andrew Seidel (2005-08). Darcy Debing (1973-76) holds the school's career assist record with 43.
"Once we learned of the result in St. Peter, the players' energy shot up," Holker said. "Knowing we were back in control of our playoff destiny after a few recent setbacks was relieving and motivating at the same time. To score in the opening minutes was just what we needed."
Peter Loyd (SR, Plymouth, Minn./Robbinsdale Armstrong HS) scored on a header off a corner kick by Peter Osborn (SR, Eagan, Minn./Eastview HS) in the 73rd minute to give the Auggies a 2-0 lead, and Matt Knutson (FY, Burnsville, Minn.) scored his first collegiate goal in the 84th minute, scoring from Chinyan Ollor (FY, Shoreview, Minn./Mounds View HS).
"We moved the ball patiently against a compact team and scored three very different goals -- through a good buildup, a corner kick, and in transition," Holker said. "Loyd's goal was perfectly executed. The service from Ozzy was great all night and Loyd elevated to head this one back into the far corner. Knutson poked in the third for his first collegiate goal. You could see that coming the past few weeks in training and in reserve games. He's grown a ton this fall."
Augsburg outshot St. Mary's by a 20-5 margin in the game and had 11 corner kicks to St. Mary's one. Clayton Lynch (SO, Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Xavier HS) made three saves in goal to record his fifth shutout of the season and 10th in his 18 career games as an Auggie. Twenty-one different Auggies played in the contest, with 13 recording shots.
"Lynch was tested once early by P-Cal's (former Augsburg goalie Pascaul Venter) brother and he closed Juamaine Venter down quickly to push it wide. Outside of that, our backs kept everything away from him," Holker said.
Joey Petrich had one save for St. Mary's in the first half, with Chris Williams recording two saves in the second half in relief.