The men’s soccer ends the season with a win and a tie in the NCAA Regional Tournament

Men’s soccer participates in the NCAA tournament for the first time

Maggie OBrien

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October 4, 2023
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Photo by Bill Hoepner

Second-year midfielder Drew Jeffers maintaining possession of the ball

The UW-Eau Claire men’s soccer team played in the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history after earning the lone pool B bid.

The first soccer game was played at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Gustavus Adolphus College. The UW-Eau Claire Blugolds faced the Luther College Norse.

Carter Thiesfield, second-year accounting student and midfielder, scored within the first two minutes of the opening half. The Norse scored less than a minute after that, tying the game.

Nathan Donovan, second-year biology student and forward, scored a second goal during the first half to put the Blugolds ahead for the second half. Donovan scored again in the second half to secure a win for the Blugolds in their first NCAA tournament game. 

Casey Holm, head coach of the men’s soccer team, said the game against Luther College felt like an open game, where there were many moments that could have resulted in multiple goals. 

“We definitely wanted to score first,” Holm said. “We felt as though we had an advantage in terms of set pieces and things like that.

Max Walters, second-year biochemistry, pre-health sciences and business management student and defender, said that staying tight and using communication were the keys to defeating the Luther Norse. 

“We wanted them to have the ball and we knew that when our time came, we were going to finish our chances,” Walters said. 

The Blugolds played the second NCAA tournament game on Sunday, Nov. 13. The tied game went into overtime and after 110 minutes of play, the score was 1-1. 

The UW-Eau Claire Blugolds lost to Gustavus Adolphus in penalty kicks after overtime, which ended the season for men’s soccer. The score of the penalty kicks was 4-3.

Ethan Andersen, third-year student and defender, said that leading his teammates into playing at the NCAA level was something that came naturally to him.

“I tried to step up and help out as much as I could, being someone with that NCAA experience already,” Andersen said. “I just try to lead the best I can and show how we do things and perform as a group.”

Andersen said he’s very proud of the group and felt that they all did really great things on the field this year. 

“Everybody follows the game plan and it’s never a one-man show,” Andersen said. “Everybody does everything together.” 

Walters said he thinks the group stayed together and stuck to the game plan very well. 

“We’re a family and I think that shows in our performance on the field,” Walters said.

Walters said he felt the team’s heart and effort was left out on the field. 

“We took an amazing team into 110 minutes and into penalty kicks and I think that really spoke for only being a second-year team,” Walters said. 

“This was a lot of firsts for our group, in terms of making the NCAA tournament, making it to the next round and this was the first time we’ve ever seen penalty kicks, let alone 110 minutes,” Holm said. “I’m exceptionally proud of everyone.”

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]