The Yellowjacket men's soccer team, which had already closed out its WIAC season, were forced to sit and wait out Saturday's match between UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater to determine, when, where and who they would be playing in the first-ever WIAC men's soccer playoff. In the meantime, they took to the road to close out the regular season with a non-conference match against Carthage College.
Statstically, Carthage dominated play on Friday afternoon, handily outshooting the Yellowjackets, but an offensive outburst by senior Ben Royce (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley) gave the Yellowjackets everything they needed to close the regular season with a win, as they took the season finale by a 4-2 margin.
Royce accounted for all of the scoring on the day, tallying four goals for the second time in his career. At the other end, junior goalkeeper Zach Harwerth (Anoka, Minn./Anoka) shut the door and picked up his third win of the season.
The Yellowjackets opened the scoring at the 13-minute mark as Royce scored on a penalty kick to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead. Carthage tied it at 24:47 on Michael Dombrowski's 12th goal of the year. The Yellowjackets took the lead for good a short time later. Royce scored a pair of goals 2:21 apart and suddenly the lead bulged to 3-1.
Carthage cut the deficit in half early in the second when Alexander Marquis scored his fourth of the year at 50:14 to make it a 3-2 game. Carthage continued to press offensively, but time and again they were turned away. The Yellowjackets got the all-important insurance goal at 84:46 when Royce buried his fourth of the match to make the final score 4-2.
The Yellowjackets were outshot in the match by a 28-10 margin. Shots on goal also favored Carthage, 15-6. Harwerth improved to 3-1-0 on the year, finishing the match with 12 stops. At the other end, Nick Huftalin was tagged with the loss. He made two saves on the day.
The Yellowjackets (10-6-3, 2-1-1 WIAC) will be in action next week during the WIAC playoffs. Stay tuned to www.uwsyellowjackets.com for more playoff information.