Yellowjackets tie Loras, win Advantage Emblem Cup
Yellowjackets 1, Loras 1
About the only thing running higher than the temperature on turf at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth on Saturday afternoon was the intensity displayed as the Yellowjacket men's soccer team took on one of the best Division III teams in the country, Loras College of Dubuque, Iowa. The Duhawks, who were a national semifinalist a year ago, were ranked No. 3 in the nation at the end of last season and opened 2013 with a 2-1 win over St. Scholastica on Friday.
And Yellowjacket head coach Joe Mooney has to be pretty happy with his club, as they had Loras on the ropes and forced the Duhawks to play from behind for much of the second half.
Unfortunately, Loras did was great teams do - they found a way to get it done, drawing even late in the contest and forcing the Yellowjackets to settle for a 1-1 tie.
The game went into overtime, but just 31 seconds in the officials spotted lightning and the game was delayed. When the lightning persisted and the rains came, the game was called a draw, but the tie gave the Yellowjackets everything they needed to claim championship honors in the 2013 Advantage Emblem Cup.
Loras and the Yellowjackets played evenly in the early going before the Yellowjackets seized the momentum in the middle stages of the first half. As the minutes ticked off, Loras began to exert their will and control the play until the teams went to halftime in a scoreless deadlock.
Then 5:53 into the half Brian Grand (North Branch, Minn./North Branch) was taken down and the Yellowjackets were awarded a penalty kick. Senior Ben Royce (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley) was chosen to take the kick, and he got the Loras goalkeeper moving to his right while kicking the ball left and giving the Yellowjackets the 1-0 lead. It was the first goal of the year for Royce, who paced the Yellowjackets in scoring a season ago.
As the second half went on it began to unfold much like the first, with Loras slowly taking momentum away from the Yellowjackets. Minutes after the Yellowjackets took the lead, goalkeeper Matt Elder (New Hope, Minn./Robbinsdale Armstrong) made the first of his spectacular saves on the day, tipping a ball that glanced off the post and away from trouble.
Later in the half, a Yellowjacket foul gave the Duhawks a free kick, but Elder was there, diving to his right to snatch the ball from the yawning goal that came off the foot of Pat Langan. Minutes later Loras was awarded its own penalty kick, but once again Elder came up big, this time diving to his left and smothering the kick of Tim van den Bergh.
Then with 17 minutes left in the second half the Duhawks appeared to score and tie the game, but the officials waved the play off as a result of a foul.
It looked like the Yellowjackets would be able to hold on, but their luck ran out in the final minute. After Elder made a save, the officials ruled the ball was behind the end line, giving possession back to Loras. Following the corner kick, Langan put the ball home to tie it at 1-1 with just 45 seconds to play.
Regulation time ran out and the teams took a five-minute break before the overtime period, but Mother Nature had other ideas, and the storm that slowly descended on the stadium hit in full force and brought the game to a premature end.
Elder was the star of the show for the Yellowjackets, finishing the contest with five saves on six shots. His record now stands at 1-0-1 on the year. At the other end, Dylan Milkent saw less work for Loras, making one stop in the game.
The Yellowjackets (1-0-1, 0-0-0 WIAC) will be on the road for their next three matches, beginning with a trip to Augsburg College on September 4. Game time in Minneapolis, Minn. is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.