ST. PAUL – The St. Thomas men's soccer team acquired 13 new players during the lead up to the 2016 season. On Friday, two of them stole the show in a season-opening 5-1 win over Buena Vista University.
Juniors Tyler Oliver, who transferred from Eastern Illinois, and Alex Schnobrich, a Saint John's transfer, connected to either score or assist on the first three goals of the season, each within the opening 19 minutes to send the Tommies out to 3-0 lead and well on their way to opening the season 1-0-0.
Oliver got the scoring started in the eighth minute. He took a pass from Schnobrich and finished from the top of the box to put St. Thomas on top in the early going.
In the 17th minute, Oliver returned the favor, crossing in front to Schnobrich, who found himself in scoring position in the middle of the box. He capitalized on the opportunity and buried it to capture his first goal wearing purple and put the Tommies on top 2-0.
Two minutes later, it was Oliver's turn once again. The two fresh faces connected one last time for the night to extend the lead to three goals with nearly 72 and a half minutes to play.
St. Thomas continued to extend the lead with two more goals before halftime. Senior Mark Heydt found junior Connor Young streaking towards the net in the 21st minute to increase the lead to 4-0. Heydt followed that up with a goal of his own off a rebound from a penalty kick that was turned away by Beaver goalkeeper Manuel Garcia Aguilar.
The Tommies took the 5-0 lead to the break, mounting an 18-1 advantage in shots along the way. Of the 18 shots St. Thomas created, 16 were on net.
St. Thomas cruised through the second half, although Buena Vista got on the scoreboard late to avoid the shutout. After a penalty was called in front of the net, Tui Hunkin took advantage of a penalty kick, putting it in the left center of the net to bring the score to 5-1, which is where it would stay for the remaining three-plus minutes.
For the game, the Tommies outshot the Beavers 25-4, including a 21-2 advantage in shots on goal. St. Thomas also collected eight corner kicks compared to none for Buena Vista.
In net, senior Grant Larson picked up the win, logging 45 minutes in the first half on the way to his first win of the year. Sophomore Aidan Hogan and freshman Troy Louwagie also saw action in the second half. For the distance, Manuel Garcia Aguilar went the distance and made an impressive 16 saves.
The Tommies will be back in action on Sunday in their final contest of the Tommie Classic against Colorado College at 1:00 pm.