Tommie Men's Soccer has a sweet tooth. They're ready to sample the NCAA playoff Sweet 16 round of the Division III playoffs, for just the second time in program history.
Christian Elliehausen scored in the third minute and super-sub Tony Kuplic scored in the 73rd minute as No. 8-ranked St. Thomas eliminated Luther (Iowa) 2-0 in Sunday's NCAA second-round contest at UST's South Field.
Coach Jon Lowery's team set a school record for wins (18-1-3) en route to its advancement into the Nov. 19-20 weekend. UST is expected to play in Chicago and will face Benedictine (Ill.) next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Benedictine (16-4-2) knocked out No. 7-ranked Carthage on Saturday 2-1 on a penalty-kick goal in the second overtime, and won at No. 12-ranked UW-Whitewater 2-1 on Sunday evening.
It is St. Thomas' first Sweet 16 trip since the 1990. That Tommie unit won 1-0 games over St. John's and Macalester to start its NCAA tournament run before losing to UC-San Diego.
Aidan Hogan recorded seven saves and helped the UST defense record its 16th shutout of the season. The Toms also killed six corner-kick tries for the Norse (15-6-2).
Elliehausen took a dish from Pierce Erickson and scored his fourth goal of the season, a blast from the left side into the right corner of the net.
The Toms played the next 70 minutes fending off an aggressive Luther attack.
Kuplic, a senior playing in just his 10th career varsity game, scored the tying goal Saturday in the 88th minute and then got the game-winner late in the second overtime. Sunday, his header in the 73rd minute was blocked by Luther's goalie but he cleaned up the rebound with a header back into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Kuplic has converted three goals in seven career shots (five on goal), all this weekend. He was cut in 2013 tryouts as a freshman, and later played junior-varsity basketball before an injury stalled his path in that spot. He tried out again in 2016 for his senior soccer season and made Lowery's 33-player roster as one of six seniors.
Hogan and his teammates were pressed until the end but kept the Norse off the scoreboard.
- Hogan improved to 11-0-1 this season in goal after posting a 4-3 record in 2015.
- St. Thomas has allowed eight goals in 22 games thus far -- three by penalty kick.
- UST has won the last 15 consecutive games when it scores two or more goals.
- The Toms finished 11-1-2 at home this season.
- UST has outscored opponents 18-2 in the first half this season.
- Lowery's five-year record at UST improved to 60-25-13 (.670).
- UST is 16-2-1 in its last 19 games away from campus.