Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A busy week for the Saints this week. There is a three-way tie for 2nd place in the UMAC, and we all play each other this weekend to secure our place in the tournament. CSS plays Northland College in Ashland on Wednesday night. We will also play Finlandia University following the UMAC contest. Halloween night we host Bethany Lutheran College and on Saturday Martin Luther comes to town amidst Senior Day and Parent's Day! The tie is between CSS, BLC and MLC. In addition, it is play-offs for high school, so the coaching staff is on the road as well, looking to replace the five seniors on the roster. Scheduling for the 2009 season is underway. The Saints are looking to travel for in-region competition over Labor Day Weekend.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Saints finished last season with an overall record of 10-13-5, including a playoff series win over the nationally ranked University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Their playoff run ended in the semi-finals, where they lost to the eventual national champions, St. Norbert College.
“We were a little frustrated with last season, but we played well at the end,” Saints head coach Mark Wick said. “We saved our best hockey for the playoffs. We have to get off to a better start this year.”
This season Scholastica is led by a core group of upperclassmen, but the team also has a strong freshman class. There are eight freshmen listed in the roster, including Brian Downing, a 2006 Duluth East graduate.
“It was nice to get out and experience other parts of the country, but it’s good to be home,” Downing said. “Duluth really feels like home.”
While in high school, Downing said he couldn’t imagine playing college hockey back in Duluth, crediting his time at the junior hockey level for bringing him back home.
The Saints have only been practicing with the coaching staff since Oct. 13, and had captains practices before, but senior captain Trevor Geiger said he already sees a desire in his teammates.
“Our energy level is a lot higher,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors, and we have the desire — we want it more.”
Assistant captain and senior Kyle Luschinski agrees with Geiger.
“So far things have been really productive; we have a lot of new guys that are very dedicated,” he said. “This year’s the most promising of the years I’ve been here.”
The coaching staff has also seen a positive beginning of practice.
“Our attitude has been phenomenal,” Wick said. “The eight new guys fit in really well. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re eager to go.”
Besides Geiger and Luschinski, there are two other assistant captains on the Saints squad. Senior Joey Hughes and junior Jordan Chong are other players that the team is looking to for guidance on and off the ice.
Luschinski said that all four captains have a different sort of style and leadership role to bring to the table.
The Saints are picked to finish sixth out of eight according to the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Preseason Coaches Poll.
St. Norbert is picked to finish first in the conference, with River Falls, Wisconsin-Stout, Wisconsin-Superior and Wisconsin-Stevens Point rounding out the top five. Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Lake Forrest are picked to finish seventh and eight respectively.
“It’s going to be an interesting year,” Wick said. “Norbert was a unanimous pre-season favorite. … In a year that we didn’t lose much, the other teams in the conference didn’t lose much either.”
The NCHA is notoriously known as one of the toughest leagues in Division III college hockey, and players know that there is no easy competition when it comes to league play.
“Our league is the best in Division III hockey in the nation,” Geiger said. “There’s never a bad team. It’s always good competition.”
Still, there are definitely games that the players look forward to more than others.
Luschinski said that he always enjoys playing against the Saints’ “across the bridge rivals,” Superior and St. Norbert.
He said that the Superior game is always fun because it means a lot to the fans and it is easy for the crowd and the players to get excited for it.
Scholastica is returning its leading scorer in senior A.J. Tucker. Tucker scored 15 goals last season and finished with 32 total points. Also, senior Steve Bounds returns to the net after splitting playing time last year with Tyler Johnson.
Bounds finished last season with an overall record of 6-6-2 and a .908 saves percentage and a 2.34 goals against average.
Wick said he was predicting a breakout season from one or more of his players; he didn’t name any names, but he was confident that it could happen this year.
“I think we have some guys who can take it to the next level,” he said. “I don’t know who it is, but we’re going to look back and say ‘Wow.’”
This season the Saints have 15 of their 25 games on the road, which Geiger said may be an advantage to his team. Last season, the Saints had a better road record than home record.
However, the Saints are very appreciative of their hometown fans.
“It’s awesome to come out and hear the crowd,” Geiger said. “It’s like having an extra fan on the ice.”
The Saints open on the road this weekend with a non-conference game against Eau Claire. Their first home game will be against Augsburg College at 7:05 p.m. Nov. 7 at Mars Lakeview Arena.
***Article Written by Sarah Packingham of the Duluth Budgeteer News***
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Another Week Ahead
Another week of Saints soccer got underway Monday with a good session up at Saints Field. We were able to adjust our practice time and actually get 2 full hours with most of our soccer players there. This is a rarity for our team this fall and it was good to have a full crew there. We kept it fun with lots of games to big goals. It can be hard this time of year to keep the energy up and to keep the team focused and excited about showing up every day. The return on the fun session was a lot of good soccer and lots of touches on the soccer ball. I have been increasingly pleased with our ability to move the ball and create good attacking opportunities. We have a couple of very good individual attackers on our team, but I thought we would lack the depth of fire power to score in bunches. I have been proven wrong so far this season as we have found ways to score pretty consistently. The only games we struggled in, were the 2 games we lost and Robin Johnson was not in those games and makes a difference in our attack... that is for sure!
Long Weekend, Big Weekend
On Friday, we leave at Noon for Aberdeen, SD. It is a 7.5 hour drive to beautiful Aberdeen. We play at Noon at Presentation College on Saturday and then we get back on the bus to head to Morris, MN for our Sunday game. It is 3 hours between Aberdeen and Morris and then 4.5 hours home from Morris to Duluth. It is a tough road trip and tough to get back late on Sunday and have to get to school and back to work at practice on Monday. It is a big week in that 2 wins will clinch our fifth straight UMAC title. It will also put us 2 wins closer to a potential NCAA Play-off berth.
Another Program First... Regionally Ranked Saints
In the NCAA' first regional poll of the season, the Saints received their first-ever regional ranking. The Saints were ranked 12th in the 60 team region. The Central Region is one of the toughest (and is the biggest) in the country and has a number of teams in the National Top 25. There are many very good teams on the outside looking in, so it is an exciting honor to be ranked where we are. Hopefully, we can continue to win games and move up the rankings!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
We left for what appeared to be a tough weekend on Friday morning around 7:30am. We knew we were on our way to play the #2 and #3 teams in our conference at their grass fields. I was nervous about playing on their much smaller grass fields. We had played very average soccer at New Ulm and Mankato a couple of weeks back and these were both better opponents. Well, my fears subsided as we jumped on Crown College early in the game. We jumped to a 4-0 halftime lead en route to a 6-1 voctory where we outshot the Storm 19-3. On Saturday, at Northwestern College in a battle of the top UMAC teams, the Saints jumped out to a 2-0 haltime lead and then went on to win 4-0, outshooting the Eagles 10-1. For the weekend the Saints outscored their opponents 10-1 and out shot them 29-4. It was a good showing by the Saints and moved us one step closer to a UMAC title and possible NCAA play-off berth. The Saints are now 15-2-0 on the year and with 3 regular season games and possible play-off games, a 20 win season is still in reach... which would be a record for the Saints.
Record Book Breaking Robin
Robin Johnson (SR- Duluth Marshall) continued her record breaking ways, by breaking out of a tie for career points with Jen Seip ('05). With her hat trick and 6 point performance on Friday, Robin gained sole possesion of the record. Robin's 160 points also makes her the career points record holder in all of St. Scholastica Soccer history, men or women. Neil Runbeck's ('01) record of 157 points held for 7 years. After today's game winning goal, Robin has 64 goals and 36 assists for 164 points. She still has an outside chance at the single season goals record of 26 set by Jill Tribble ('95).
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
6am saw the Saints women's soccer team and their smiling faces this morning at PSS. A crisp night gave way to a pleasant morning. When I returned from Maple Grove, MN at 12:45am this morning, it was down right cold out and I assumed it would be at least that cold 5 hours later, but it was pretty decent out in the dark of the morning. The girls responded well again and we had an excellent training session. The only disappointment was having to stop at 7:15am so we could let our 8am class- goers leave. It left us with about 12 players for the remaining 30 minutes of practice.
Next Weeks Nightmare
With dwindling daylight, football and two soccer teams, and no lights at our field on campus... we are struggling with practice opportunities for soccer on campus. We had some times scheduled at PSS that seemed appealing, but as my Dad says "if it seems to good to be true... it probably is." Boy was he right in this situation! Instead of 6-10pm at PSS next week for our men's and women's soccer team, we have now been told that we will need to share PSS at 6am, yes am not pm, next week. High School football play-offs are the latest sport to bump us out of time at PSS. Now it is a district facility and I agree that high school sports have priority at PSS, but it does put us in a tough spot next week. We are trying to work with a couple other potential practice places for next week, so hopefully someone can come through for us for decent practice times. I have faith!
Splendor on the Grass
Nothing like the book/ movie, and the title is more wishful thinking then potential reality. This weekend we play both games, against conference #3 Crown College and conference #2 Northwestern College on small, grass fields that are used primarily by each college's football teams. Therefore, they are typically mud and not grass at this point in the season. It will certainly be an equalizer in the two games and will make it critical that we are mentally prepared for 90 minutes of soccer each day.
It is against NCAA rules to name potential recruits until they are deposited and enrolled in school, so I cannot get specific. As well, it is a long way from the start of next fall and lots can happen with recruits and their decisions between now and August. But, I am extremely excited about where we are at this year. I have not been this excited about a potential class since we landed 12 juniors (7 of which start and 9 who play a significant role) 3 years back and not as excited about the amount of potential all- stars for 5-6 years. There is still a lot of work to do to bring in a class like this, but I am fired up about the future if we can convince these kids that St. Scholastica has a lot to offer them in both soccer and school! The only hint I can/will give is that there is some local flavor in there (not really surprising if you take a gander at our current roster)!
Friday, October 10, 2008
We are on the road this weekend to Mankato to face Bethany Lutheran and to New Ulm to face Martin Luther. All three of us are tied for third in the conference with a 3-1 record. We have been working hard in practice with a fair amount of conditioning and always, the basic fundamentals of our sport. The weekend of the 17th the conference is participating in the Dig Pink Event promoting Breast Cancer Awareness. We have pink tie dyed tee shirts to throw into the crowd during the announcement of the line ups. Anyone who comes dressed in pink will receive a ticket for a drawing for a pink CSS Volleyball tee shirt. The team spent Community Day making commemorative bracelets for the event as well. We would love to have as many community members as possible support the event, as the gate proceeds will go to the Side Out Foundation, who is sponsoring the event.
St. Scholastica freshman goalkeeper Bailey Mahlum (Fr.-Bismarck, N.D.) shares her thoughts on the current state of the women's soccer program.
When asked to blog on our soccer team, I did not think anything I could possibly say would compare go Dave’s famous and long-winded soliloquies. I hope I’m right. We started off the week with two welcomed days off. Homework and friends consumed time normally spent at the field. However, we were all excited to hit the field Wednesday afternoon to prepare for another big weekend.
As a native North Dakotan, coming into this whole new Minnesota setting was quite intimidating. I had no idea what to expect with teammates, coaches, practices, or competitions. I was one of the lucky ones and fell into excellent surroundings. Not only do we have a brand-new beautiful field to challenge our competition, I think I met the only other Bailey my age. Bailey (from Helena, MT) and I get to enjoy the stunning scenery while getting lost in the hills of Duluth while frantically trying to find our way back to campus.
We are lucky to be home again this weekend while Bethany and Martin Luther get to make the trip. I am excited to play a team that we have previously faced. For once I will not be completely confused on who we are playing, where they are from, or their strong players. These are sure to be good games and we are all hoping for a good turnout of fans to our own home turf!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Record Breaking Weekend
This was a record breaking weekend for St. Scholastica. In football, we had a whole bunch of "first-evers" including a record attendance for a CSS event at 3500 fans in the Homecoming game against Crown College. On to soccer, where the records were falling faster than the snow on Halloween '91! First was the career record for game- winning goals, Robin Johnson (Sr- Duluth Marshall) whose 14 game winning goals overtook Keely Raab (CSS '06, Duluth East) for the career lead. Then Robin scored 3 goals on the weekend to move within one goal of the school record for goals in a career with 57. Robin also overtook Jen Seip (CSS '05, Duluth Central) for shots in a career with 312 shots (and she is 7 shy of the record for shots on goal with 161). Johnson is also now alone in 2nd place at 147 points in a career. She is 7 shy of Jen Seip's record of 154. On Sunday, the Saints attempted 63 shots on goal, which is a new record for shots attempted in a game. The 34 shots on goal were the 2nd most all-time (the record is 38) in CSS history. On Saturday, the Saints had the 2nd most corner kicks taken in a game at 15.
The Road Ahead
We now begin our second time through the conference teams. We host Bethany Lutheran and then Martin Luther College next Friday and Saturday. Then two weeks on the road, followed by a Halloween contest with Northland College (who fittingly has orange as its dominate color). It is important that e stay hungry, have good practices, and we do not lose sight of the prize at the end of the tunnel. Along the way, we have to keep our head down and keep plugging away... a loss or tie, could be very damaging to our chance at making the NCAA tournament.
Days Off, Re-energize, Re-focus, Re-v It Up
We are off the next two days. I decided to give our ladies the day off tomorrow, and then Tuesday is their scheduled day off. We have been going non- stop since mid August with little time off. I just had the feel that we could benefit from 2 days rest... we will see how effective it is at 6am on Wednesday, when the lights at PSS turn on for our Wednesday practice... cold rain, and before sunrise will pose some challenges for us... excited to see how we respond. This team has been surprising me all season, so lets see what Wednesday brings!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Homecoming Home Run
Despite the result of the football game tonight, St. Scholastica had a pretty good day as an athletic department and as a college. The campus was packed with people all day. The tail- gate party was a success, the kids zone was filled with kids, the parade went off without a hitch and more than 4000 people watched the 2 soccer games and football game today. Soccer had season highs in attendance with a total attendance of 562 people. The football team had 3500 fans at their first ever home game. To top it all off the soccer teams each beat MN- Morris on a beautiful fall day! Overall, you have to consider today a massive success for the St. Scholastica community.
The Saints women's soccer team dismantled MN- Morris today 4 to 0. 22 shots, 15 corners, and 4 goals. Morris attempted 3 shots, had 1 corner, and had 2 on goal. It was the most dominating performance the Saints have ever had against the Cougars. Morris is a young team, but the Saints women played some very good soccer today. Robin Johnson (SR- Duluth Marshall) and Jen Krokum (JR- Duluth East) each had great finishes and Kristen Stangel (SR- Grand Rapids, MN) had her best game of the season. Today was the most consistent performance of the season for the Saints. Tomorrow marks the end of the first time through our conference schedule. We are 6-0-0 and have outscored our opponents 24-2 in conference play.
Closing in on History
Robin Johnson (SR- Duluth Marshall) is closing in on some records at St. Scholastica. Robin has 56 goals and 33 assists for 145 points. Her 56 goals ranks her second in CSS history in goals. Her 33 assists ranks her 5th all time in assists and her 145 points puts her 3rd all-time in points. Robin is 9 points, 2 goals and 11 assists from being 1st in all three categories. The players she is chasing (Nikki Stroinski in goals, and Jen Seip in assists and points) are some of the great players in St. Scholastica history. Both players were hard working and very athletic. I had the privilege of coaching Jen Seip and she was unassuming about her abilities and personal success and would have traded it all for team success. Robin Johnson is very much the same type of player. Her biggest strength is that she can play equally well with each foot. She has a knack for finding open space and is dangerous every time she touches the ball. She has shown she is a versatile player. She can play forward, inside mid, outside mid. She can score goals and set the up. She has also learned how to defend and to play as part of a team. She has grown so much as a player and so much as a leader. It has been my pleasure to coach her and I am enjoying her run at the record... even though I bet she does not know she is closing in on the records.
The Vikings may have the day off tomorrow, but the Saints soccer teams do not. A full day includes, the Saints varsity plays against Presentation College at 2pm and the JV will play Macalester at 4pm tomorrow. Between the 2 matches, the Saints should see lots of playing time!
Friday, October 3, 2008
Pep Rally, Chilli Feed, Bonfire... Does It Get Better Than This?
There was a buzz in the air today on the campus of St. Scholastica. Friday is always an energy filled day as students make plans for Friday and Saturday night and faculty and staff make plans for R&R. But today had a special buzz to it. As the day rolled on, the main parking lot was cleared, the bonfire ring was brought in and Jean Anderson, and her food service crew started to bring out the supplies for the big chili feed. By noon, the gym floor was covered with a big blue tarp to protect the wood floor below. By 3:15pm the gym was already half full and by 3:30pm, when MC Joe Wicklund started the pep rally the stands were full and many others lined up at the top railing to take in the festivities. Although I find these things a little corny and staged (I don't like canned laughter in sit-coms either), this was pretty darn good and President Goodwin even gave a "top ten" reasons the college "really" added football. Not a bad beginning for a school not too familiar with these types of events.
A Class Act All The Way
Before Football Coach Greg Carlson took the stage most of the rally seemed very much about the football team and very little about anything else. The invocation mentioned protecting our football players and the area blocked off for the football players left some of our soccer players a little chapped. Joe Wicklund did his best by asking all of the other athletes to stand up and accept some applause. But then the man who has been a class act since day one took the stage. As everyone waited to here his thoughts on homecoming and how his team would do against the Crown College Storm... he began his speech by saying that he wanted everyone to take a moment to acknowledge the soccer teams and the tremendous success each team was having this season. He strongly encouraged the fans to attend the soccer games before the football game and told them of the importance of these crucial match-ups. Coach Carlson is a classy man and I have said it before and I will say it again, we got the right man for the job and no one will be cheering harder for "W" in the CSS Homecoming Football Game!
Ready To Play, After I Set up The Deer stand
We are set for tomorrow, field is clear, goals are anchored, flags are ready to go up on the field, bleachers are in place and the players are ready. All that is left to do is set up the deer stand! The deer stand? Yes, two guys (Barry Chastey, our men's coach and I) who have never shot at an animal in our lives went to Gander Mountain today and purchased a deer stand. No, we are not trading in clipboards for rifles... we needed a better vantage point for video taping our soccer games, so we stole the idea from another college and went out and purchased a deer stand. All that is left to do is set it up and the only thing I might be worse at then hunting... putting things together.
Games This Weekend Come and See
Tomorrow at Noon our men's team takes on MN- Morris. Clearly the best two team in MN not in the MIAC will be on display tomorrow at Saints Field. Both teams are still in the hunt for an NCAA tournament bid, so tomorrow's match will be a good one. The women play MN- Morris at 2:00pm. These two teams have had classic battles every year since the Morris Cougars joined the league from NCAA II in 2003. Sunday, both teams play Presentation College. Men at Noon and Women at 2pm. Good seats, still available!!
St. Scholastica's first football program has become a beacon on and outside the Duluth campus.
Read the story written by Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Rachel Blount Here
Thursday, October 2, 2008
A variety of CSS teams took part in Community Day on Wednesday. Community Day is a campus-wide event where students and faculty members at CSS go out and serve the community doing a variety of jobs. The women's basketball, softball, men's and women's track & field and men's and women's soccer teams all took part in work along the Superior Hiking trail which runs through Duluth and then along Lake Superior up the shore. Each group had different activities, including clean-up, trail clearing, wall building, etc.