PHOTO: Christian Elliehausen (7) by Dave Hilbert, D3photography.com
A record-setting men's soccer season for St. Thomas ended in disappointment Friday in Salem, Va., with a 2-1 loss to Tufts (Mass.) in the national semifinals.
UST gave up a strange goal in the 39th minute, as Stephen McMillian launched a wind-aided free kick from 40 yards. The ball just slipped in at the top of the net. UST keeper Aidan Hogan was fighting a bright sun and jumped but couldn't deflect the shot.
Just after halftime, the Tommies hit the lower right post on a potential tying shot inside the box. Tufts later went ahead 2-0 in the 61st minute.
UST senior Johnny Mulvahill converted off a corner kick in the 72nd minute, but the Tommies were unable to get the tying goal despite a few fair scoring chances.
St. Thomas (20-2-3), making the deepest postseason run in program history, had three comeback wins during its NCAA playoff march but couldn't do it again. Coach Jon Lowery, whose team shared third place in the nation out of 410 teams, graduates six seniors.
Tufts (14-5-2) will play Calvin (Mich.) in Saturday's finals. Calvin edged Brandeis (Mass.) 1-0.
Tufts shutout its first four NCAA playoff opponents and added to the scoreless string before Alex Schnobrich's corner kick found Mulvahill in front of the net, and the UST senior's quick header produced a quick Tommie goal.
Mulvahill, a startuing defender playing in his 82nd career game, converted his 12th career goal.
Both teams had seven corner kicks but Tufts had a 10-6 edge in shots on goal.
UST's last six goals of the season came from five different players.
The Toms scored a second-half goal in all five NCAA games.
Senior Mark Heydt made first-team All-America and junior Shae Bottum made third-team All-America. They were among 47 players honored on three teams by the National Soccer Coaches' Association of America. Heydt had seven goals and 10 assists in 25n games this season and 11 goals and 22 assists in 70 career games. UST went 23-3-1 in games on his career when he scored a point. Bottum has 12 goals and 10 assists in 64 career games, including six goals this season. UST is 15-1 on his career in games when Bottum scores a point.
St. Thomas sophomore Andrew Stuempfig of Plymouth and Breck High was honored at Thursday's banquet with the Elite 90 award for men's soccer. He has the best grade-point average among all four teams in Salem, Va., at the national semifinals. The Mechanical Engineering major has an unblemished 4.00 gpa.
Ninety top student-athletes are honored each school year from all Division I, II and III sports for men and women.